An Unsafe Anchorage + Passage Pets

A Week Aboard S/V Sabado: 10/4/2020 – 10/11/2020

This week started off on a bad note…. We collided with another boat.

One second we were safely anchored, eating soup in our pajamas and the next we were slinging lines and fenders. It happened that fast.

We’re still not particularly sure how it happened… We dropped our anchor at the stern of another catamaran which is usually a sound approach since catamarans swing the same. Unfortunately though, the current and the wind in the anchorage were disagreeing with each other (and frequently changing), so we somehow ended up swinging around each other and getting our anchor chains intertwined. We sprang into action- pulling out our fenders and trying to wake the captain of the other boat. 

A sailor from another boat nearby came over on his dinghy to help us (Greg if you’re reading this you’re a legend THANK YOU). After about 2hrs of troubleshooting between the 4 of us, it boiled down to our chain being caught on the fluke of the other boat’s anchor. Ray ended up jumping into Greg’s dinghy and manhandling the anchor until the chain came loose, allowing the other boat to pull up their anchor and move away from us.

We followed suit, pulling up and resetting our anchor, but we couldn’t find a spot in that anchorage where we felt safe staying for the night after all of that. So, we decided to head over to the fuel dock, fill up on diesel, and head back out to sea to continue moving South.

Unfortunately, it seems that that fuel dock was not made for sailboats. We pulled up to the entrance and it was too shallow for us to proceed. So, we turned back around, re-evaluated our plan, and decided to try to make it to another anchorage a ways away before dark. That’s what brought us to Lewes, Delaware. We safely anchored by the lighthouse, and got our first full night’s sleep in days. 

On Monday, we reached out to our weather router for this trip, Chris Parker, and told him where we were and that we’d still like to get to Charleston, South Carolina, but we’d need to prioritize sailing since we didn’t get the chance to fuel up. He said to hang tight until Thursday, then there’d be a great sailing weather window for us to make another hop on our trip. 

We spent the rest of the day Monday lounging around the house. Both our bodies were aching, so we relished the chance to recover. 

On Tuesday we decided to venture to shore. We had low expectations because it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere, but we hadn’t grocery shopped in over a month so we were on a mission to pick up a few things. The trek to shore ended up being really cool, it took us about 30mins in the dinghy, but we got to go through this canal that runs right through a surprisingly bustling town, flanked by cute houses and private docks.

We found a place to tie up our dinghy and grab lunch and a few beers. Then we walked across the bridge and checked out the town! 

We found a little grocery store and came home with some eggs, chicken breasts, asparagus, and smarties- you know, the essentials. 

On Wednesday we got everything ready to get moving again- we cleaned the boat, prepped some snacks for our watch shifts, took showers, double checked our route and the weather, etc. and left at first light Thursday morning toward Norfolk, Virginia, where we planned on anchoring for a few nights before making our last leap to Charleston.

We were sailing downwind, so Ray rigged up a barber hauler and we enjoyed some sunshine and smooth sailing!

Later that afternoon the wind died a bit, so we brought out our Code 0 to help maintain our speed. Our Code 0 has been sitting in a locker for a few months, so it was a bit of a task to get her up, but once we did we gained 3kn of speed! 

I’m sad to report that the bird we had on board last week, Tweety, died. We found his body in our cockpit a few days later. But, we acquired a whole bunch of new friends this trip… 

I tried to feed them our leftover cornbread from the other night, but I guess birds don’t even like the “just add water” mix I found on board (I don’t blame them). 

We’ve figured out that they’re pine siskins, which have very sporadic migratory patterns. Usually they don’t migrate South, but some years (apparently this year) heaps of them do; this is called an “irruption”, or “invasion”, and usually occurs because of a decrease in their food supply.

We think Tweety died of exhaustion, from trying to fly such a long distance when he wasn’t used to doing so and simply not being able to recover. Hopefully these new guys will have better luck!

Oh, we also had this fella who hung out on our anchor all day! 

Not sure what he is, but he looks like he’s got a sharp beak so we made sure to keep him away from our dinghy. Other than all our bird visitors, we saw the usual- dolphins and whales and flying fish- but I can never seem to photograph any of them. 

Thursday night was quite nice, we were able to sail up until midnight, when we turned on an engine to help get us back on course. We made some water, and switched off keeping watch every few hours.

At sunrise we were at the Chesapeake Bay entrance. There was a lot of ship traffic, including military boats that don’t show up on AIS or radar (the Naval Station in Norfolk is the largest in the world and occupies 4 miles of waterfront property), so we kept a close watch. 

We dropped anchor around 11am on Friday, and went straight to bed. 

There’s another Lagoon 42’ at the marina just next to our anchorage. The owners called us up on the radio when they saw us go by, and offered to let us tie our dinghy up to their boat, and gave us their marina code so we could easily go to shore! We took them up on their offer on Saturday, got coffee, wandered around Fort Monroe, and grabbed some lunch at a Mexican restaurant in town. It started raining, so we headed home and spent the rest of the day relaxing and sorting out some boat projects + plans. 

We’re looking forward to sailing further south next week, in hopes of getting to some warmer weather and catching up with some old friends. ❤️

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