Monday, May 21, 2018

A Shot in the Dark and There Will Be Days Like This

Today four trawlers, a Grand Banks, two Monk 36s and one Mainship 40, departed the Downtown Hampton public pier at slack low tide hoping to catch the flood tide north and ride it 47 miles to Deltaville, VA.  Viridian, Mary Lisa, Dash Away and Second Wave cast off lines at 0830 with a favorable weather forecast and looked forward to a "no drama" passage to our destination in Deltaville, VA.  The sky was overcast, the air was humid and warm and the water was calm.  The winds were predicted to be less than 10 kts all day swinging from the south to the north east around mid morning.  Seas forecast less that two feet.  We captains of each boat had discussed the tide, current, wind and temperature since 2 days ago and all agreed that today would be a perfect day to be on the Chesapeake Bay. 

As we swung around Ft. Monroe and entered the Chesapeake, the temperature dropped and a cool northeast wind was blowing and waves were beginning to show signs of whitecapping' which indicated 14kt, twice what was predicted.  Off in the distance to the north was a small thunderstorm moving fast in a west to east direction and the weather map showed a cold front moving south over our area.  Before too much longer we had waves breaking over the bow spraying water through the open windows on the flybridge and soaking the crew of Viridian.  We buried our anchor, (it's 6 feet off the water on the bowsprit), and one of our starboard fenders was knocked out of its stainless steel cage and at about that time we felt the rudder jam making it difficult to steer.  This went on until we rolled over another 6ft wave and lost whatever was hanging the rudder and then it was back to normal.  At about 30 miles the captain of Mary Lisa radioed in and said he had something like a bowling ball rolling around in his engine room. Being single handed he could not go below to check on it so he decided to make a run for the western shore to the Winter Haven Harbor and anchor for the night and try another run tomorrow. 

Viridian, Dashaway and Second Wave continued to push northward until Second Wave radioed in to say he was losing power to his single Yanmar diesel and it felt like he would be dead in the water,  and soon he was.  Second Wave's captain went below to the engine room and switch the Racor filter selector handle to drink from a new filter and bypass the old clogged filter.  Second Wave sprung back to life but it was short lived for in 5 minutes she was dead again.  Viridian and Dashaway idled in a circles around Second Wave while the captain changed both the primary and secondary filters on the Yanmar and attempted to start the engine again.  By now both crew of Second Wave were sea sick and worn out.  I radioed Second Wave and asked if he was calling TowBoatUS and he said he was.  They put him on hold for 10 minutes and finally told him that they were contacting the Coast Guard to see if they could come out and tow him in.  Another long period of time and Second Wave said that TowBoatUS could come but they were at least 45 minutes away. 

The winds were expected to increase as the afternoon wore on and the crew of Viridian were beginning to feel a little green too so I offered to tow Second Wave the 12 miles to our marina area where he could anchor till a proper tow could take him on into the marina.  I rigged our 100ft kevlar tow rope with a loop on one end to fasten around the Sampson post on Second Wave.  Meg operated Viridian while I positioned myself on stern to throw the line to Second Wave. After three attempts we finally got tied off to the starboard stern cleat after passing it through the aft hozzle hole.  Once connected, Viridian started towing Second Wave towards our marina on the back side of Stingray Point and on the western bank of the Chesapeake. 

It wasn't 5 minutes before we saw the TowBoatUS boat coming toward us at full speed from the shore and we were casting off our lines so he could hook up and finish the tow to safety.  It turns out that the marina we were staying in monitors CH 72, which is the channel we use to chat between boats on so they heard us all afternoon as the drama unfolded.

The three remaining boats got safely into the Dozier Marina where more drama happened with the electrical connection to shore power on Viridian, but that's another story for another time.

On a sadder note,  two nights before we departed Hampton, someone fired a bullet through the front window of Second Wave while s he was docked at the Downtown Hampton City Pier Marina.  Thankfully, no one hurt and the shot was not heard by anyone close to Second Wave, including the crew of Second Wave.  The first mate discovered glass fragments all over the solon the next morning and found the hole in the windshield and put 2&2 together.  A police report was filed the next morning and the shot line between the hole in the windshield and the hole in the headliner suggested that the shooter was standing on the dock in front of the boat and fired from the hip.  A cigar butt was found on the deck of Second Wave and some graffitti was scratched on the chrome anchor brace on the bow.  Can't say we can recommend staying at the Downtown Hampton City Pier Marina.

Well that's the news and here's a few views:

We are here

Today's Route from Hampton, VA to Deltaville, VA

Fort Wool

Second Wave in tow behind Viridian

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