Sunday, October 29, 2006

In the Wake of Washington

After a rough passage to Baltimore, weather remained very windy and stormy on the Chesapeake Bay. It has taken us nearly a week to make it as far south as Norfolk, VA, although the winds have been generally behind us. As we sailed fast across the mouth of the Potomac we considered how many times George Washington and other luminaries (such as Teddy Kennedy) have sailed through the same waters.
We have been seeing Brown Pelicans while out on the water, the occasional eagle, and jelly fish are now common. Annie is able to take out the dingy by herself and has been collecting and identifying shells.
We tend to start early to make the most of the light, and around dawn on Thursday while departing the Great Wicomico River, a (possible Savannah) sparrow landed on the boat and took up a sheltered residence in the dorade (wind scoop). He stayed there for a half hour and wasn’t troubled by our use of lines and sails. We’ve had a few other hitchhikers onboard, but the sparrow knew just where to go to get out of the wind.
Thursday was our best day of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, a clear, warm day,15 knots on our starboard quarter, and 1-2 foot waves most of the day.
We finally left the Chesapeake on Friday and stopped in Norfolk due to a passing weather system. The U.S. Navy base is the largest naval facility in the world. We liked what we saw of the town, and they are working on downtown development and putting up many attractive mermaid statues.
After lunch on Saturday we walked along the water front parks and toured the mothballed U.S.S. Wisconsin. The Wisconsin, which is nearly 900’ long and weighs over 57,000 tons, carries 16” guns which can send a 2,700 lb. shell 23 miles. The ship actually carried spotter sea planes which were launched by catapult from the after deck and flew up to spot where the ships shells were landing.
We attended mass at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception near downtown Norfolk. The church was predominately black, the music great, and the sign of peace went on for several minutes. The pastor was Kenyan and his accent was fairly thick. I believe the homily had to do with Stevie Wonder and someone Jesus healed (not Stevie).
Today on to the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) south.