Bluewater Marina, Hampton, Virginia
Position: 37:01.059N 76:20.477W
Date: Wednesday 29th October 2014
Tuesday was yet another day with very little wind so we motored most of the way down to Hampton, at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay arriving late in the afternoon.
A few days earlier acting on a rather rash impulse I had applied to take part in ‘The Salty Dawg Rally’ that would sail from Hampton directly to The Virgin Islands. I blame the excellent bottle of wine I had just consumed. Almost as soon as I had made the reservation I began to have my doubts about whether this really was a good idea. The thing is I don’t really like rallies, but it was such long time since I had last taken part in one (12 years ago) that I had kind of forgotten this. After arriving in Hampton and seeing the other boats congregating, reading through all of the regulations that we would be expected to follow and departure time that we would have to adhere to plus the additional equipment we would be expected to purchase my feelings about rallies came crushing down upon me.
Early Wednesday morning I went to the organisers and told them that we would not be taking part. They were clearly unhappy to hear this and tried hard to persuade us to stay. In fact they were reluctant to accept our withdrawal. I would have left the marina that same day, but I had arranged for some new equipment to be delivered there so we had to wait for it to arrive. Fortunately it arrived promptly so we made plans to leave the next day (Thursday).
However there were a couple of spin offs from being in Hampton for the rally that we benefited from. The first was a live demonstration by the US Coastguard of a helicopter rescue. The first we were aware of was the arrival of a low flying helicopter that made a couple of passes close to our boat and then proceeded to hover over the water about 100 feet away from us. Someone from the helicopter then threw a man sized dummy into the water below. A few minutes later a diver descended from a rope and swam over to the dummy. Both were then attached to the line from the helicopter and winched up into the belly of the machine. We watched the entire exercise from very close up. The noise and the spray kicked up by the wind from the rotor blades was impressive, in fact we ended up quite drenched from the spume which was blown in our direction.
The second took place in the evening when we were in the bar. Someone announced that in just a couple of minutes there would be a live launch of the Antares rocket from the Wallop Island base, not too far away from us. If we were to go outside and look in the correct direction we would see it. A small crowd of us went to look but after a few minutes the scheduled launch time passed and we had seen nothing. Someone googled the appropriate web age and we soon learned that the launch had been a spectacular failure with the rocket exploding just a few seconds after take-off. The next day we saw that the event had made it to the front page of several British newspapers.