11/8, 979.6, NE20>25+, 60’s/55, sunny - Our plan of the previous evening was to motor out of Jackson Creek as soon as there was enough light to see the crab pots. By 6am I could hear the wind rustling the tree leaves and whistling through our rigging. Gusts slewed the boat at anchor. I felt pensive that NOAA was under-estimating the forecast again. Dobbs rowed Murphy to shore and I suited up in two layers of long underwear, knee pads, pants, a sweater, and foul weather gear. When he returned, we discussed staying versus going and, while a comfortable anchorage had much appeal, today seemed like the best day of the next three or more. Lows in the 30’s predicted for this weekend have us eager to be off the Bay and moving south. Bobby decided to join us and see how “Child of the Wind” handled. Even at the mouth of the Piankatank the wind was driving the water into steep cresting waves, which only grew bigger as we broad-reached south past “The Hole in the Wall”.
We were working with 2nd reef main and 3-4 wraps less than 2nd reef genoa. Both Grace and Child of the Wind were riding admirably. Some of the waves were so big that I could tell when one approached because it muffled sound like a wall, and things got quitter for a moment. Then, as it crested, it would hiss louder and louder until it swept down in a rush under Grace’s stern.
As we came abeam of Wolf Trap Light, the wind and wave heights mellowed out a little. We brought the jib out fully to the 2nd reef and then, farther along, to the first reef.
On the approach to Hampton, an area known as “The Horseshoe”, the breeze strengthened. Before we reefed the genoa again, Grace was surfing down waves at 8+ knots.
Hampton Roads was on the ebb and the conflicting wind and tide made for another round of big waves. Our speed dropped to 3.5-4 knots though the sails were drawing full - the effect of pushing into the outgoing tide. Nothing like prolonging the agony!
We slowly clawed in behind the seawall and…RELIEF. The wave heights dropped away to nothing and the historic and massive Chamberlain Hotel provided a welcome wind-break. We were in!
A bit dazed and worn out, I took in sails as Dobbs motored us into the Hampton River.
I contacted the Hampton Public Piers requesting dockage for the evening. The dockmaster greeted us at slip #5 (and remembered us from when we stopped in June while circumnavigating the Delmarva), which Dobbs artfully sprung Grace into, and the ride came to a stop. We popped the cork on a bottle of cheap champagne to celebrate being off the Bay. While we sipped, we stowed gear and put things to rights - “some settling of contents” occurs on days like today. Just after sunset, we walked up festive Queen Street to our favorite sushi restaurant “Musasi”.
We ate our fill and appreciated the gracious service.
As we walked home arm-in-arm, the evening air was becoming chilly. Fat and happy, I tucked into bed at 7:30pm! Dobbs stayed up reading and then took Murphy for an evening walk.