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Date: 12 Dec 2010 03:17:00
Title: Rain on the Parade

37:01.472N 76:20.450W Hampton - Saturday night

We're now at the Southern end of the Chesapeake, waiting for good weather for our crossing to Bermuda. We had the choice of going to Norfolk or coming here to Hampton. Norfolk has the world's largest naval base and it's just across the water from where we are in the smaller town of Hampton. We'd been recommended to come here but it's not quite as charming as we'd hoped.

We woke this morning to another extremely cold day with the most condensation I've ever seen on Saxon Blue - also the most bird poo but that's another issue. The docks were lethally slippery but it was beautiful to look out and see all the houses through the haze. Andrea was slightly the worse for wear having drunk most of a bottle of Prosecco last night. Bill was fine, despite having cartwheeled over the handlebars of his bike when he cycled into a railway sleeper in the dark. Kali had been out until after midnight carousing but didn't seem to be suffering any ill-effects.

We got off the dock without drama but then had to get back out along the narrow, shallow passage into the bay. The tide was lower than when we'd come in - although it was rising so that gave me some comfort. As we rounded the narrowest section near the beach, it looked as though you could jump onto the shore and the depth sounder went down to 0.1m. There must have been some worried flatfish under the keel.

We set off motoring south on a day that had turned grey. It was warmer than the last few days but there wasn't anything to look at. Kali got us sailing after an hour or so but that didn't last long and we motored for most of the day. The highlight was a delicious pasta cooked by Bill for lunch. As we got into Hampton Roads, the traffic increased a bit and we saw the odd barge and some small fishing boats. A bit further on, we passed a dismal lighthouse and then a peninsula with a massive Nineteenth Century fort on it. The other side of that, there was a bridge into the bay with cars rushing along it before plunging into a tunnel just before the end. It looked very odd to see all the cars zooming into nowhere but these bridge/tunnels are common here.

We turned North into the narrow channel approaching Hampton and then into the harbour. There are a lot of marinas but we were heading for the town dock a bit further in. The pontoon has short fingers sticking out and then posts further out so we decided to reverse in. The maneuver went OK and we're now hanging off a web of lines so we've not got any weight on our fenders atall. It looks very sheltered for the bad weather that we're expecting over the next couple of days.

By the time we got tied up, it was raining hard and everything looked grim. Kali went off to meet the woman who looks after the docks and Andrea went for a walk into the town. She returned having seen the preparations for a big Christmas parade. Before thinking about that, though, we had to eat the lovely fish pie that Andrea made yesterday. It was great having a meal ready to go as we wouldn't have fancied wandering around in the rain looking for a restaurant. As soon as we finished our pie, Andrea and I set off to see what was happening with the parade.

As we got off the pontoon, we could see the lights from all the parade vehicles and hear the music. The people had just started moving off so we went to the grandstand area where there were artificial snow machines and some people who seemed to be judging the entries. There were also some guys from a TV company interviewing the more interesting (or pretty) participants. The parade went on for ages. There were half a dozen marching bands and they were all excellent. I think they were from High Schools and churches but the drumming was really together and some of the dancers were great - really dynamic. Two lads in particular were really going for it with chrome batons whirling and cracking on the road. There were some really sassy groups of young women dancing, loads of quasi-military youth marching, every variety of Jeep ever made and a Hummer with some of the largest, most over the top chrome wheels I've ever seen on a vehicle. There were also about a dozen fire trucks so goodness knows what would have happened locally if there was an emergency.

Anyway, everyone was very jolly, considering that they were all getting soaked. As the parade ended, the fireworks started. They sounded amazing but we couldn't see any of the action as they were shooting up straight into the low cloud before exploding. We got ourselves back onto Saxon Blue just as the rain really picked up and it's been pouring down ever since. We've been tucked up onboard watching Battlestar Galactica and chatting. Bill found some videos on YouTube of planes landing in St Martin where Andrea will fly to in the Caribbean to meet us. The planes fly about 50 feet above the beach, their blast bowling people over and causing mayhem. That's going to be more exciting than sitting in the arrivals lounge waiting for her to arrive.

Tomorrow, we've got to arrange some stuff for leaving the USA and explore around the town a bit so hopefully the weather will improve.

Harvey

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