Once we were reefed, we made our way towards the mouth of the bay. We were sailing as close to the wind as we could with the current sea state. As the wind shifted, we were not able to clear the point of land just north of Virginia Beach. We came close to shore and were going to tack when the winds shifted again. We needed to pinch for a few miles but we would be able to make it around the point with 1 mile of sea way between us and shallow water.
I didn't want to tack because that would add several hours to our arrival time. This is usually not an issue, but the mouth of the bay is subject to very strong currents. If we would be able to make it in time, we would be swept in by a several knot current. If we tacked, we would arrive later and be fighting the current, in the dark, in a very busy shipping channel. I suggested that we set out back to sea but Maddie wanted to be back in the bay today, so we continued on.
As the winds were, we would arrive to the point in 1.5 hours, which would put us in the strong current flooding the bay. We were rather close to shore and got a wonderful view of the crowded beach.
Being very close to the naval base at Norfolk, VA, we were passed by many naval boats. A fleet of 3 black speed boats flew past us in formation. Later a submarine went by us as he headed out for deeper waters. The submarine moved quietly through the water but created a monster wake! The submarine wake was on par with a tug boat moving at hull speed. I wonder if they create a wake when submerged?
As we neared the point, the winds began to die, but we were still able to maintain movement through the water. At this new pace, we would catch the tail end of the flood tide, so while not ideal, we would still make it in today.
We rounded the point of Virginia Beach and the winds died completely! We switched the jib for the drifter, but there wasn't even enough air to fill it. We sat still as the current slowly pushed us into the mouth of the bay.
As we sat nearly stationary in the water, pelicans began flying near by. Maddie got a bunch of pictures with the intention of painting pelicans next in her series of bird paintings.
The tide began to slow and the winds had not returned yet. I was worried that we would soon be swept out to sea and lay drifting near the busy channel during the night. I began looking at places to go once we made it into the bay, preferably a marina where we could recharge the motor battery since I was about to drain it down getting into the bay. We found one on the charts and I called them, they had a slip waiting for us and we could arrive after dark.
I entered their location on the chart plotter and that gave us an ETA. Then I turned on the motor and set the engine speed so that we would have enough run time to make it to the marina and with 1 hour of battery time left.
As time went on, the tide was going to begin ebbing, and we would begin fighting the current. I decided to push it harder and figure it out once we made it into the bay or else we would run out of battery while fighting the current. We pushed and made it in past the bridge's channel, then turned to port. Luckily, there was a tiny bit of wind directly behind us and we were able to sail wing on wing with the main and drifter.
We sailed along at 1.5 to 2 knots, nothing fast, but at least we were moving.
We found a buoy marking the entrance to the channel and we turned in. It was dark, the sun had set hours ago by this point and we were ready to sleep in a protected marina. We sailed down the channel which was teeming with power boats, even at this late hour.
We encountered the blinding lights of the naval yard so I had Maddie go forward to make sure we were not going to hit anything. Out of the darkness we saw a large log float. I thought it was a mooring ball for the navy, but it turns out that it was a log boom separating the civilian marina from the naval yard. I steered to avoid the log and took us straight into the naval base.
Search lights focused on us and a Zodiac came over to question us. They were understanding enough and let us tack out of their side to head over to the marina. Apparently, many people come into the naval yard looking for the marina.
After a series of tacks, we made it out of the naval base and found our marina, and our slip. We were nestled in behind a very large catamaran, tied up, and plugged in to recharge the very exhausted engine batteries. We burned them all the way down to 16% trying to get into the bay against the current.
We went ashore to find the only restaurant open at this hour for a land cooked meal, followed by a very deep sleep! I miss the ocean, but it's nice to keep the admiral happy too!