We left Norfolk this morning as early as we could pay our marina bill and left the Chesapeake Bay with a good following wind.
The southern reaches of the bay and the nearby ocean are always a challenge. In addition to a large number of large commercial cargo vessels there are navy warships of all sizes and shapes who are very particular about approach distances. In addition the navy ships are usually not broadcasting their position beacon, so you have to keep track of them by radio report, visual sighting, and radar. Other harbors are busier, but this one is very high stress with a number of pinch points where everybody—large and small—has to squeeze through the same narrow spots.
Our favorable wind did not last too long, and by noon we were motoring. We expect another 24 to 36 hours of light winds before the next weather system catches up with us.
It’s quite crowded out here with at least another 10 sailboats that headed out of the Chesapeake this morning, the usual shipping and fishing traffic, and a Navy warship are all moving south along the coast.
The warship is constantly on the radio directing traffic away from his 5 mile diameter “security zone”. It makes for quite the dance as he pushes vessels to one side or the other which causes them to jump out in front of other boats with a cascade of course changes and radio chatter. It’s all much more complicated than normal traffic interactions where boats adjust course quietly and as a matter of course to keep safe distances.
We had the same thing leaving on the 3rd for Bermuda and they eventually started live firing weapons so we were quite happy to have kept a safe distance from them. The lady doing the reports on the radio was very gung ho and would not be messed around with. At one point we heard a Navy airplane ask them for a position report to do a low and over and she flat out refused to divulge it citing operational security. While we could see them on radar and knew their position very accurately, we decided not to tell the Navy aircraft in case the warship decided to send a few shells our way! Made for an interesting afternoon and evening. Fair winds!