Last week, while my Dad was visiting, we took him out on Delphinus for a few days. With no real agenda we decided to visit two local spots we enjoy – Hampton and Cape Charles. Unfortunately, there was little wind, so we motored most of the time.
We departed for Hampton on Thursday and took a couple of “detours” to get a closer look at the Thimble Shoals Lighthouse and the Norfolk Naval Station. On our way to the Navy base, we were passed by a Navy Riverine squadron – quite a site, and a Turkish Navy Frigate! We called Hampton City Docks to make a reservation only to find out this is also the weekend for Hampton Bay Days, a huge waterfront celebration. We could get a slip for the night only if we agreed to leave Friday morning, which was the plan anyhow.
While cruising past the Navy piers we watched thunderstorm clouds forming in the distance and decided to cut this short and head for Hampton with the hope of outrunning the storm. Upon entering the Hampton River, we heard a May Day call to the USCG. The boater’s engine had quit and the storm clouds were getting closer. When he gave his position, Pete realized he was right behind us and within sight.
We turned around and it took several tries to get a line between our two boats to tow the disabled boat. The small boat was drifting into shallower water and we were concerned about getting stuck ourselves. In the end, we did not get stuck and the captain was able to restart his engine while under tow, so we disconnected and went our separate ways.
As much as we hoped to outrun the storm, it caught up to us just as we approached the marina. We were able to get docked despite the wind and rain, with the help of dock crew. After the adrenalin rush of towing the disabled vessel and docking in the wind, it was definitely time for happy hour. After the rain passed we walked to dinner at Marker 20, sitting outside to enjoy the breeze.
Early the next afternoon, we left for Cape Charles and our next adventure. Again, little wind blowing so more motoring. Seems we are in a definite weather pattern as we found ourselves once again trying to outrun an afternoon thunderstorm. This time we were able to dock and enjoy a cold one in the cockpit.
We had a nice surprise when the folks on the boat next to ours, No Sched …, returned to their boat and struck up a conversation. Turns out, the boat owners, Lynne & Mike, make wine in their spare time. They and their friends, Jen & John, brought over a couple bottles of their wine for us to sample. We were all having a great time when, once again, the skies opened up and chased all of us into our respective boats.
Early the next morning we got a real treat. The Spanish tall ship El Galeon, Andalucia, pulled into Cape Charles Harbor. We were able to get out to the end of the dock to watch the approach and docking of this beautiful ship, which was not without its “hold your breath” moments. The wind was blowing the ship off the dock and the pilot boat was struggling to push it up to the dock. They got their first line tied to the dock, and the strain was too much. The dock cleat broke away completely! The ship’s crew worked hard to get her tied up securely.
Although we wanted to tour Andalucia, they were not able to open up for tours before we needed to head back home (hoping to avoid another later afternoon thunderstorm.)
For a trip that started out with little planned except the destinations, it turned into a pretty exciting few days – from seeing several different naval vessels, to towing a boat to safety, arriving at the beginning of a big party weekend in Hampton, and finally seeing a majestic tall ship. All in all, Dad enjoyed everything, as did we.