13th ~ 24th May, Soper’s Hole to Chesapeake Bay!
We got up early on the morning of 13th May with a sense of expectation! We were about to set off on the next stage of our Odyssey to America! We first of all had to check out of the British Virgin Islands, always an interesting process?! This done we went back to Musetta and prepared to set off.
We didn’t have to rush as we had calculated that the passage would take at least 10 days! We had promised ourselves one last swim in the beautiful Caribbean sea and so we headed out for Jost Van Dyke, as described in my last post!
Out into the open sea with nothing between us and America!
We were soon romping along having a fantastic sail! We even began to hope that we would be able to complete the passage in less than the 10 days we had calculated!! We even changed the lightweight headsail, Genoa 1 for the heavier Genoa 2 so that Musetta wouldn’t be over pressed as we headed into our first night at sea!
Our first 24 hours was completed with 151 nautical miles covered at an average speed of 6.9 kts!! This ‘high’was short lived though as the winds dropped off and so did our speed until we were forced to motor!
Day 3 ~ Electrical Storm!
Lightening is a big worry for yachtsmen! The masts of our boats act as a conductor of electricity to the water! A direct hit would be catastrophic and so we had everything crossed and all electrical devices stashed in the oven!!
We could see the weather deteriorating and then the black clouds appeared and the world turned into an unfriendly place with lightening flashing all around which got closer and closer! We altered course to try to avoid the worst of it and then a cargo ship appeared as an AIS (Automatic Identification System) target on our chart plotter!
I called them up on the radio, they hadn’t seen us at that stage but they reassured us that their weather routing wasn’t warning them of anything really nasty! The captain of this cargo ship, or whoever was on watch at the time called us up, at our request, a bit later when they could see us on their system! We were approximately 7 nautical miles apart!
After this minor (major!) scare things returned to normal and we then had three days of reasonable sailing, covering a decent amount of miles in each 24 hours, although nothing as good as the first 24 hours! We sailed with our cruising chute and mainsail and all was well with the world!
A good wind angle to fly the cruising chute with the mainsail!
It was magic while it lasted but after these three days the wind slowed again and we had another spell of motoring towards the end of our first week at sea!
The occasional vessel appearing in the endless sea!!
All we could do was to enjoy the view, miles and miles of mostly empty sea! The occasional commercial vessel sailed across the horizon and then this odd looking boat appeared!? I couldn’t make out what it was? It sort of looked like a fishing boat but it also looked like it could be a ‘nomad of the seas’ with all his possessions piled up on the back of the boat?!
I zoomed in a lot to take this shot and I think that has distorted it somewhat but even so I couldn’t work out what it was! It passed us heading south and that was that!
8th Day ~ 21st May
We had a day of very erratic weather when squalls came through causing us to reef the sails! Alan even wrote in the log, “sea state – rough”! We hadn’t seen these conditions for a long time, probably since our passage from Cascais, Portugal to Porto Santo back in October last year! The days was preceded by this sunrise….
22nd May ~ Live Firing Range!!
The wind died properly which in a way was fortunate as we were then hearing over the radio that the US Navy were having a live firing session from 0900 – 1400! Our course was taking us straight through it – eek again!! However at the speed we were going there was no chance we would be in danger!!
The next radio message from a navy aircraft which was obviously patrolling the area was to warn a British yacht that they should alter course or turn around as the firing would go ahead! The skipper of the yacht explained that being a sailing yacht it would be difficult to do both of those things but that he would try to slow down!
We couldn’t see him or know his course but at the end of the session the US Navy aircraft radioed him to thank him for his co-operation!! It was good to know that they would at least warn you before they shot you out of the water!!
Very little wind on a beautiful moonlit night!
23rd May ~ Gusty conditions!
Soon after midnight we were sailing again at a good speed although even more heavily reefed due to the unpredictable gusts of 27+kts but we made good progress towards our destination!
24th May ~ Arriving early!!
We have arrived in America!!
After leaving Soper’s Hole on 13th May our passage took 11days in the end and had covered 1,380 nautical miles!! Again Musetta didn’t miss a beat and even when we had the strong winds she seemed almost to relish them and show us what she is made of!!
Entering the Chesapeake Bay via the Bridge-Tunnel!
The Bridge-Tunnel is one of the two bridges to span Chesapeake Bay, connecting Virginia Beach with Cape Charles. The other is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland, connecting Sandy Point, near Annapolis with Kent Island.
‘Clearing in’ to the United States was a process made quick and easy by means of an amazing app’ on our phone! Within a very short space of time we received confirmation of our authorisation to enter US waters by email! It was painless!!
Enjoying the Bay!
We had 30 nm to go north to get to Zimmerman’s yard in Deltaville where we had arranged to spend a few days to ‘recover’ from the passage! However Musetta was skimming along at 6+kts in absolutely flat water, constant wind and with lovely sunshine!
It was too good to just head north to Deltaville so we decided to delay our arrival and make the most of the conditions, it was great!
Arriving at Broad Creek, Deltaville in Virginia
The day was creeping on and so we started to head towards our haven for the next week!
Here we have entered the Rappahannock River and are very aware of the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the depth was rapidly decreasing!
We rounded Stingray Point and Headed up to the first channel marker for the entry into Broad Creek and Zimmerman’s yard!
Ospreys may be an endangered species in UK but here in the US they are a common sight nesting on the channel marker posts and any other vantage point they can find!!
Osprey nesting on a channel marker!
Stingray Point ~ Captain John Smith!
Stingray Point is so named after an English Soldier who nearly met his death at Stingray Point! He was fishing when he was seriously injured from a sting by a stingray! He was cured by some native Americans who found a cure at a nearby creek, now know as Antipoison Creek!! I’m not sure what form the cure took but he was very lucky to survive!
Captain John Smith was an explorer and the first Admiral of New England. He played a prominent role in the establishment of the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English Settlement in North America!
He was a great explorer and was the first Englishman to map the Chesapeake Bay area!
Captain John Smith!
24th – 31st May ~ Relaxation!
The yard at Zimmerman’s with the loaner car outside the office!
We spent a week at the Zimmerman’s yard where we were able to completely unwind after our passage here from the Caribbean. We found everyone was so friendly and helpful and all the facilities were great. Hot showers with as much water as you wanted, a swimming pool to cool off in – the temperatures were in the high 80s/90s!! We also had the free use of their ‘loaner car’ to run into Deltaville for supplies!
Next we spend 10 days exploring the Bay before joining an Ocean Cruising Club rally at St Michaels…..!
** In order to know exactly where Musetta and crew are currently, please check the Yellow Brick Tracker page on the website!**
As I write we are currently anchored in Horseshoe Bend, St Mary’s Maryland!