Kristen here - Today is Thursday 8/13/09. Tomorrow is my Dad's birthday! Happy birthday dad! I just got off the phone with him, and he will be coming on Saturday to help us move the boat up to Albany. When we have an extra person, it turns a exhausting trip into a bearable one. Plus its just fun to have my Dad along.
Lets see, when we last wrote we were in Coinjock. With our bellies full of steak, we headed out the morning after our arrival. Chris spent a great deal of time planning this leg of our journey. There were many bridges and one lock between Coinjock and Norfolk. Some of the bridges open on demand, some open on the hour or half hour, and some just stay open all the time. If you don't plan things right you will have to hover the boat for a long time. We also had to contend with a bridge that closed from 3:30 - 5:30 for rush hour. If everything worked out perfectly we would arrive at that bridge at 3:35. We were keeping our fingers crossed the whole morning.
We arrived at our first bridge 20 minutes before it was scheduled to open. Great, already we're going to have to wait. We radioed the bridge operator and much to our surprise he told us that he would let us right on through! Now, let me tell you, this NEVER happens! Every bridge operator we've met has been very strict about their opening times. You can be racing to a bridge and radio ahead and ask to be let through 1 minute behind their scheduled time and they always say no. So we were jumping for joy when we got through this first bridge early! Now we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule. This gave us a fighting chance to make the rush hour bridge before it closed at 3:30!
After a few more bridges we came to the lock. By this time we had picked up another boat and we were traveling together. We both entered the lock and started chatting with each other. After a few minutes I heard Chris say, "Whoa!". I assumed his exclamation was due to the lock water starting to rise. I went to firmly grab the line which had been loosely dangling in my hand. When I looked to the font of the lock, I saw he was actually referring to the fact that the lock doors were opening! The whole time we were chatting, we didn't even realize that our boat was rising! We got on our way again, now fully realizing that we would make the 3:30 bridge.
After we passed the rush hour bridge before it closed, we all breathed a sigh of relief. If we had not made that bridge, we wouldn't have made it to Norfolk until 7:00. Now we were due in at 4:00. That was until we hit the train bridge! Most of the time train bridges are unused and remain open. I have never seen one closed before. As we approached a series of two train bridges, we saw the first one open, but the second one had a train on it. We circled around a bit and chatted some more with the boat that was with us. We both watched the train move forward and back but all the time staying on the bridge. I started to get impatient and called a phone number listed on our cruising guide as a contact for this bridge. Nobody answered and I got an automated message saying that another automated message would be broadcasted over the VHF when the bridge opens and closes. Bummer...no indication of when that train would move. After waiting about 1/2 hour, we heard someone come on the VHF saying the bridge was opening. Thank goodness! We were on our merry way once again.
We made it to Norfolk at 4:00. It was just amazing to see the mammoth navy ships once again. I remember how we all felt when seeing these for the first time on our way down. The feeling of security and pride in our country is just overwhelming.
We pulled into the Waterside Marina which is right in the heart of downtown Norfolk. As we entered the basin, a HUGE crab swam right by us. I'm sensing a trend of running into animals at marina entrances here! The marina is filled with tons of extremely large jellyfish. They are the kind with long tentacles, and tops that move under their own power. Some of them are the size of a large serving platter!
Norfolk is just amazing. The marina is just around the corner from a large downtown mall, many restaurants, a park with tons of activities, and Nauticus. Nauticus is a museum with the warship "Wisconsin" next to it. We have been to Nauticus twice so far and will probably go one more time just to see the things we've missed. They have a small aquarium, a large exhibit about what NOAA does, a nanobiology exhibit, and a large portion devoted to the history surrounding our first steel navy ships called "The White Fleet". They had many hands on exhibits and demonstrations. The kids have been having a blast there and have been learning a lot.
The day after we arrived we took a taxi to WalMart. I'm still a bit mystified by WalMart. It's just so big! We went a little nuts and once again bought way too much stuff. Yogurt, cheese, lunch meat, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables OH MY!!!
Our friends on Miakoda were going to be joining us on Wednesday, so we were quite surprised when their boat pulled in next to us on Monday morning! The kids were in the middle of school and lept from their seats when they heard the news. Miakoda apparently made good time! We've been having tons of fun hanging out with them. Jennie and I have been hitting the gym in the morning, Chris and Brian have been geeking together, and the kids have been making crafts together. They are on their way back to Annapolis to start school in two weeks.
There is a park on shore right next to the boat that hosts all sorts of activities. There is a section with jets of water coming out of the ground that kids and even adults run through. Yesterday there was free ceramic painting, and free scrapbooking. There are lawn toys, supplied by the park rangers, to play with. Oh and the park rangers sit in a booth and dj music. Chris and Brian have been spending a lot of time sitting at the tables in the park with their computers and doing general geeky stuff.
While we are here we've tackled a few boat projects. Casey and I pulled the dinghy out of the water and found a rather large 1/2" thick colony of barnacles on the bottom. We scraped them off with a little effort, but the big problem is the substance they secrete to cling to things. When you scrape off a barnacle you're left with what looks like fish scales stuck on there. These things just don't come off. I tried many nasty chemicals and abrasives with no luck. We ended up putting the dinghy back in the water and saving that project for another day.
Chris called AB about the dinghy. One of the tow rings on the front is rusting, and the front handle fell off. Much to our surprise, after a few e-mails AB has agreed to replace both items. Thanks AB!
I also took some time to install a new water pump. The Jabsco has been great about sending us replacement water pumps, but this is going to be our third pump and installing them is getting old. For now it is working well.
The last project for now is replacing our wireless antenna. This will require a trip up the mast. Certain parties seem to think I'm not capable of the installation, so maybe it won't be me up the mast this time!
We will probably be heading north on Sunday or Monday depending on the wind and weather. The trip will be 2 1/2 to 4 days again depending on the weather. We plan on heading up the Hudson to Albany Yacht Club and staying there for a bit.