WHACK!!!

Sorry no pictures tonight. When you are fighting alligators who has time to drain the swamp.

First, let me tell you we have damaged the hull but the damage is above the waterline by a foot or so and poses no danger to the safety of the crew. They are just battle scars from a very unseemly departure this morning which I will tell you about in just a moment. But first the setup.

It is an axiom of boating that the size of your mistake is directly proportional to the size of your audience. So if I tell you that this morning that there was a health and fitness fair being held on the shore at Yorktown Landing and at least two hundred people were milling about, then you will gain some idea of the calamity that awaited us.

It was 0830 and the fair was setting up. School children were arriving by bus and families walked the boardwalk gazing at the big boats in the harbor. Little boys tugged at their mother’s hand trying to get closer to the boats. It was at this time that the crew of Cbay was preparing to cast off.

Extra fenders were placed to allow the bow to pivot off the dock as we backed and spun out at an angle to get past the schooner tied behind us and blocking our exit. A double line was placed midships so that I could hold the boat to the dock at the front while The Admiral swung the back away. Then I would loose the doubled line pulling it aboard rapidly as we backed with speed against the current that would be trying to push us into the pier off our bow. Then once we were far enough back to attempt a turn then it would be done smartly and with sufficient power to combat the swift current. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It was a well thought out plan taking all contingencies into account. All we had to do was execute it.

That seems to be the trouble with plans, the execution phase. All went well as I took in all but the last double line. The stern swung out at a perfect angle, the double line was loosed and pulled aboard, and Cbay began to move backwards with speed. So far so good. But then I felt the boat slipping sideways and Jan began to try and turn the boat. Once momentum stops the remaining forces take over. Like a leaf we were swept toward the exposed dock off our starboard side. The side with no fenders!

I shouted for more power to move backwards before we hit. She put the reverse power to it. Disaster averted as we barely slipped past the corner of that finger pier. Now just keep backing strongly against this current and we would make it. But the boat was slipping sideways again. This current was way faster than we had anticipated and we were attempting another turn in an even tighter space. What the heck was going on? Before I could scream again we were sideways to the current running perhaps 5 mph and sliding toward the end of the finger pier with no hope of making it past this time. All I could do was brace and pray as we slammed into the pier amidships. The sound of fiberglass and wood meeting could be heard for a 100 yards! I called for power and we came off and began to spin this 10 ton monster around before we split the schooner we were heading directly toward. That seemed to work and we spun like a top and I shouted for full power ahead to get the heck out of here before the shocked crowd could get our tag number. That’s a joke people.

Some days you can analyze to death and we have done it, but bottom line we should have waited another hour for slack tide with no current to leave but that may have put us in rougher water in the bay. Every day is a crap shoot and sometimes you cannot make your point. Today we lost but Cbay is still afloat and nobody got hurt so on we go.

It was some time later out in the York River that I tried to lean over the side to assess the damage. All I could see was two areas of damage but not the extent. It would only be upon tying up at Norview Marina in Deltaville that we would confirm the side was scratched but not the extent. It could not have sustained a hit like that with a fiberglass hull without some damage. I was amazed it was so little and thankful it was above the waterline. A bit lower and we would be running bilge pumps. This is beyond my area of expertise. I could put a rough patch on the area if necessary but I will get a second opinion. I hope to wait until we are back home to have it cosmetically repaired.

Out on the Chesapeake we were expecting seas of only one foot but soon they built to two and were pushing us on the stern making for a choppy ride but no problem. The trouble was the wind which was supposed to shift from NW to SW around 1000 but it never did so the seas continued to build. Keep in mind that the Chesapeake out in the middle where we were is like being in the Gulf of Mexico. You can barely see any land and the wind has great fetch to build. The Commander had warned me about just such conditions.

This is where the power of Cbay can be used to great effect. Just wind her up and let her run. Two foot seas that rock you at 10 mph are a carpet at 22 mph. So that is what we did. Damn the fuel cost and full speed ahead. Within an hour we were entering the Rappahannock River and in protected waters. Deltaville was in easy reach.

We took on fuel when we arrived at Norview Marina, 117 gallons at $3.98 plus tax per gallon. We had run 21.8 hours since filling up at Alligator River. This included running the Albemarle Sound for two hours on plane and an hour on plane today and 16 hours of generator time in the Dismal Swamp. For a boat this size that is downright excellent.

The boat was in dire need of washing, like a thoroughbred racehorse after a strong run, so after lunch we broke out the bucket and the Kool Aid to rub her down. She cleaned up real nice and even with her battle scars she looks grand.

We will be staying at least two night’s here before moving up to Reedville to stage ourselves for the Potomac and a run into our nation’s Capitol with the Commander and family aboard. Did I mention 5 year old twin boys! But that is another story for another day.

1 thought on “WHACK!!!”

  1. ADM.J&CAP.R,
    AS THE SAYING GOES…ALONG WITH THE SUN THERE MUST BE RAIN………
    HOPE YOU ARE FEELING MUCH BETTER…ALSO THE LITTLE MARK ON CBAY (ALSO CALLED
    A WHISKEY BURN) & NO LEAKS EVEN AFTER YOU WASH HER WITH THE KOOL-AID IS READY
    TO GO…..
    WE HAD RAIN ALL NIGHT AND ALL DAY AND IS STILL RAINING (RAIN AT CLOSE TO 5″)
    AND MORE EXPCTED TOMORROW…THE AREA YOU ARE IN..NORFOLK,CHESAPEAKE AND YORKTOWN
    …MEMORIES..MEMORIES…NANCY AND I WERE RIGHT THERE 31 YEARS AGO (JULY 1981) ON
    OUR HONEY MOON…AS THEY SAY “THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES”
    MISS YA,
    R,N&LITTLE ALLIE

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