More damages in Hampton, en route to Norfolk

We didn’t run aground leaving the dock in Queen’s Creek – the trick was to avoid low tide!  We seized the next lull in the strong winds and ended up motoring 40-odd miles to Hampton at the bottom of the Chesapeake.  We had been told this little town was worth a visit by several people, but we beg to differ.  After docking went for a quick walk around “downtown Hampton”, which turns out to be a very small dull area with nothing more than a few bars and restaurants.  L got very despondent, as we had just paid for four nights in the marina which, despite being very cheap for the area, was still pricy by European standards (£32/night).  Never mind, we managed to get some exercise and had a great cycle ride to America’s national maritime museum.  This turned out to be a long ride, probably 23 miles in all, after getting slightly lost.  The ride was lovely in the hot sunshine, but somewhat spoilt when I got a puncture a few miles from home.  The maritime museum was a revelation though.  We weren’t expecting much but were amazed to learn all about their first attempts at iron-clad ships during the civil war.  They were revolutionary in appearance & technology (but hard to describe, so look them up if you care).

Aerial view of Goldcrest at the dock:

We had a little lesson in hubris on leaving the dock.  We had been entertained by boats coming into the tiny marina; the berths are across the tide on the river’s edge with very short pontoon fingers and a single post to tie-up to.  I guess we must have arrived at slack water as it seemed easy to us.  Most others got into difficulties and the late afternoons were punctuated with rushing around helping with ropes to stop new arrivals from crashing.  We had to depart when the current was in full flow and the freshening wind was helping it, so I had spent a sleepless night working out exactly how I was going to show how an experienced Brit handles the situation.  Unfortunately the final mooring rope that was keeping us up into the tide & wind got into a knot as L let it go and we ended up pinned to the distant dock and at the mercy of the elements.  Within seconds we had swung into the mooring post which caught our dinghy and ripped a hole in it before we could power our way off.  Ho hum, another puncture to deal with.

 

By the time we got into Norfolk (after refuelling at the super low cost of 58p/litre) the wind had got really strong and even with a couple of willing helpers ashore, there was no way we could get into the same dock we used here in May.  These US docks are very difficult if there is either a cross wind or current; you have to manoeuvre between pairs of pilings, either attaching your ropes as you pass or picking up the ones already attached.  With 25 knot gusts we decided to spend the night roughly tied alongside a couple of posts and moved into the dock properly the next day.  Today (2 days later) the winds are supposed to hit 40kts, so we are trussed up with a cat’s cradle of ropes from the 6 mooring pilings that surround us.  I hope we can untangle them when it is time to leave!

 

Now we just have to wait for the right weather to get around Cape Hatteras, the next major headland south of here and the graveyard of thousands of boats who have got the weather wrong (including one of the ironclads we learned about in Hampton).  A big northerly storm is just getting underway and the forecast shows brisk southerlies immediately after it, so we can’t yet see a window to head south again.  In the meantime we are enjoying Norfolk again and hunkering down in falling temperatures – it was 27C 2 days ago and could be 4C tonight, brrr.  We’ve used the time to get my bike wheel fixed (not just a puncture as it turns out) and after a few failed attempts to repair the dinghy, arrange to have that professionally mended at our next port of call, Beaufort North Carolina.