Propeller shaft seal rebuilt, Check. Engine raw water impeller changed, Check. Bottom sanded and painted, Check. Trailer-cruised Maine with son Alan’s trailer, Check. Attended Hokies Football games in September, Check. Ready to go off for our fourth year of cruising….No Wait! Hurricane Matthew has other plans.
Nothing strikes more fear into the cruising sailor’s heart than a tropical Hurricane barreling down (or in this case, up the coast) on you. The real trouble with Matthew is, it refused to barrel. It “lollygagged” about the southern Caribbean for a week, strolled leisurely through the Bahamas for three days and then performed a lazy jog north up the southeastern coast…before deciding it would head out into the Atlantic just before battering the North Carolina outer banks. IT WAS EXCRUCIATING! Having just returned High ZZ’s to water from her annual haul-out, we were paralyzed for two weeks. Two weeks is enough time for us to get from Deltaville, VA (our current location) which is now quite cold (by our tropical attuned body standards), to Saint Augustine, FL, where it is warm and sunny. And more importantly….can we get anywhere at all, given the chaos that Matthew caused on the FL, GA, SC, NC coasts?
Pictures streaming in from the news media, and reports on cruisers nets/listservs indicate that there will be a huge back-up and delays of boats moving south on this annual migration. Both boat-highways from Virginia to North Carolina, the Dismal Swamp Canal and the Virginia Cut, are/were closed because of high water and lock/bridge malfunctions; curtesy of Matthew. Many marinas have been destroyed/disabled, the ICW is blocked by debris coming from the overflowing rivers and the destroyed docks. And as yet undisclosed, many inlets may have shallowed enough to be impassible as the storm surge moved sand around.
In the Chesapeake Bay, we were battered by 35 kts, gusting 40+ kts, of wind Saturday and Sunday at the Deltaville Marina. Out on the bay, there were 7+ft waves….a “no-go” for Admiral Deb. Three to four foot waves = fun; 3+4=7 ft waves = not really that fun. The wind and waves are slowly subsiding so that by Wednesday, Oct. 12, we may finally get moving south; a full two weeks behind schedule (as if we really have a “schedule”).
This year’s transit south is likely to be as new and exciting as was our first year….albeit the weather should be a bit better in October and November this year than it was in February and March in 2014. We don’t know quite what to expect; there will be trials and tribulations with navigation; there will be crowded anchorages and marinas, there will be fun and frolicking with fellow cruisers facing a unique set of challenges… Can’t Wait!