Cape Hatteras to Norfolk, VA

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Thu 15 Jul 2010 21:16
36:50.65N 076:17.53W  Norfolk, Virginia
Shortly after my last blog we started rounding Cape Hatteras - as per the cruising guides we stayed well away from the coast, knowing full well how many ships are wrecked here.   Two major Atlantic currents collide just off Cape Hatteras, the southerly-flowing cold water Labrador Current and the northerly-flowing warm water Gulf Stream, creating turbulent waters and a large expanse of shallow sandbars (Diamond Shoals) extending up to 20kms offshore.
At about 2am, I was on watch and we hit a huge squall - seas & wind picked up to over 35kts and the rain pelted down - felt like somebody threw a bucket of water on us... continuously for an hour or more!  Luckily we were motorsailing with only the foresail and Indigo performed like a star. I had to wake up Mike, who had only been asleep for just over an hour to help me.  We realised quite quickly why this area is know are the graveyard of the Atlantic!
That night we took shelter in through a narrow inlet called Rudee inlet - we would never have attempted this, other than our friends on Searenity had been in two weeks before, after suffering an even worse rounding of the Cape - they got a side swipe from lightning! Through the inlet is a small beautiful 'lake' surrounded by some lovely homes (see below)  Weird to be anchored in someone's back yard, but we were exhausted.
Next morning we set off for the entrance to the Chesapeake and on to Norfolk.  This entrance is very busy with commercial and naval traffic. This area is apparently the biggest naval headquarters in the world - and there is lots of activity. For two days already we had seen/ heard the war games of the US naval fleet... warships, aircraft carriers, jets, helicopters etc.   One funny incident was a warship calling a British tug one night, and asking him on Channel 16, what his intentions were. The captain of the tug, not able to see the warship on AIS (they don't transmit), said, " my intention is to travel to New York". The Warship radio operator was gobsmacked and repeated his message that he was a warship and he wanted to know what the intention of the tug was., (with respect to passing him)  At which point the tug captain said - "Where are you - I cant see you, you are not on my AIS?  let me check my radar" ..and then proceeded to discovered that the warship was headed directly towards him, only a few miles off.  Lesson learned: Commercial vessels seldom look at their radar anymore - thank goodness we have AIS - BUT ... keep a lookout for the navy on radar, you wont see them on AIS.
Sailing past a number of dockyards, with grey boats of all shapes and sizes, we  entered the Elizabeth river down to  Norfolk.  We are moored at the Waterside marina which is very conveniently located.  It is also very pretty with the whole waterfront area having been renovated, although there are few people around.
The temperature is slightly cooler and last night we had a gorgeous sunset!
As you can see, Indigo is a bit bigger than the average boat they see at these docks - not to mention wider. They very generously gave us two slips, at no extra charge.  A great place to stop.
Today I went to have a haircut/ colour etc, which is a great treat for me - living on a boat with my hair in a ponytail everyday is not that pretty! It was great to sit in the salon for three hours, talk total nonsense to the gals and read gossip magazines - I feel rejuvenated!!
Mike has gone down to the naval museum - there is a warship there - Battleship Wisconsin (built in WWII and only retired a few years ago), which he will no doubt be enjoying.
Tomorrow we will 'check-out' of customs for our next leg up  to New York. Customs has proved to be a bit of a nightmare in the USA for us - we have to check-in and check-out of each and every port that we visit (filling in forms and paying 2x at each port). The reason for this, is that in South Africa we make all foreign cruising vessels, check-in and out of each and every port. So the Americans have applied the reciprocity principle to South Africa. What a total pain in the butt!!  How we wish that our boat was registered elsewhere/ or that the SA government would remove this stupid regulation for private yachts!   Anyone have contacts or influence??