On the day we left Coinjock for Great Bridge, VA, the forecasted winds of 10-15 quickly built to 25-30 kt on the nose crossing the wide open Currituck Sound. Waves were washing over the bow and soaking the cockpit. We’d had better runs in the open ocean. Currituck sound is a wide open body of water, but very shallow outside the marked channel. Dave had to work to keep Orion in the deep water. As we were making little more than 4 knots and had donned all of our foul weather gear to stay dry, we got to watch the crews of the many power boats passing us in enclosed cockpits, standing in shorts and T-shirts.
The next morning, we confirmed a reservation for a month at Joys Marina in downtown Hampton and proceeded the final 12 miles (through 5 opening bridges and 1 lock) of the ICW, across Hampton Roads to our slip. We pulled in next to Interlude, the couple we had met in our grounding incident on the Alligator River.
It felt good to be in one place for a while.
Returning to the Hampton Roads area means back to the world of big ships and lots of activity. This is a sampling of the vessels we saw on the last few miles of the trip.
We had been planning to upgrade our communication technology on Orion by getting a Ham radio, which would give us access to SSB weather and other longer range communication. To do this, one or both of us would need to get a Amateur General ham radio license. Dave had passed the first level (Technician) last year. The General license is the next level. Until April, this level required proficiency in Morse Code, but that requirement had just been dropped.
Dave bought the study book for the General exam while we were in Charleston and had been studying it over the weeks since. Cathy decided she might as well get certified now, too. The General license exam was scheduled to be changed in July, which meant taking the exam now would mean that she could use the same books Dave had used to prepare for his exams. Cathy would need to take both exams to get the General certification – Technicial and General. Since she was starting a little late, this meant a bigger push to get through the material before we took the exam.
After we pulled into Hampton, we found a ham radio fest in Bahama, NC (near Durham) that would be holding the exam Memorial Day weekend. This was only a week away, and Cathy hadn’t finished reading the General book in preparation for the exam. Even so, we decided to gear ourselves up for this exam and stop by to take it on the way to visit Cathy’s mom.
We both passed the exams so that we have received our General certification. Now we just need to get the ham radio and get it installed and learn how to use it . . .
Look for KI4QOI (Dave) and KI4WIT (Cathy) on the air soon.
After receiving all sorts of worried questions from family and friends about the possibility of running into pirates in our travels to the Bahamas, it was ironic that our first pirate encounter took place in Hampton – at the Blackbeard Pirate Festival. Our slip just happened to be in a great location to take in the festival, held the first weekend in June.
It seems that Blackbeard’s career was finally ended off the Ocracoke Island on the NC Outer Banks, but Lieutenant Robert Maynard brought his head back to Hampton and displayed it there as a warning to other pirates (and a guarantee that he would be paid the bounty by the governor for having defeated Blackbeard.) This rather gruesome claim to fame now gives the town the excuse to hold a big party with more pirates and wenches than you can shake a stick at.
Our grandson came to visit us for the Pirate Festival, excited about the possibility of seeing Jack Sparrow (of Pirates of the Carribean fame), No sooner had we set foot on our dock when we heard the first of many cannons sound. Droz was thrilled. We then took Orion out for a sail and motored past the big schooner Kalmar Nyckel at the Hampton Public Dock, fitted out with cannons and pirate flags. How good is that!
We’ve been enjoying the time spent with family in the past few weeks. Orion hasn’t been quite the same as when our grandson Droz was on board. (Who else would have thought to use the winch handle pocket as a holster for a pirate gun?) And our 11 month old grandson, Jayden, seems to be growing bigger before our eyes.
Later in July, we will head north to visit friends in New England. We hope to return to the Chesapeake with Fred in late August (hopefully with some new canvas on Orion as well.) This may mean we won’t spend much time in the Chesapeake Bay until later summer / fall, since we may take the outside route from Norfolk north. Time will tell as we develop our plans for this trip.