Sailing from Annapolis, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia {Part II}

October 4, 2015 – Day 3 {If you missed Part I click here!)

Another amazing sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay

We awoke with newfound energy. We had sailed for two days now and we were beginning to grasp how our routine was supposed to go. We had a quick breakfast again and started early as the sun was rising. We make a habit of listening to the weather forecast the night before we sail. It said it was going to be 3-4 foot seas with wind 15- 20 knots with gusts up to 30 knots, which wasn’t as calm as the day before but good for sailing since the wind would help us gain speed!

Once we got out into the bay and raised the sails, we found the wind to do exactly that. We were going faster than we ever had before, with a top speed of 8.7 knots! (That’s pretty fast!) But the wind and the waves were more intense than the forecast claimed. The waves were closer to 5 feet and the wind gusts sometimes over 30 knots. We could tell this was going to be a different kind of day!

I had let the girls sleep since we woke up so early, so after we started sailing I went down below, woke them, dressed them and got them fitted into their life jackets. Trying to get everyone ready after the boat was already in the bay, rocking back and forth by the motion of the waves, was not a good idea. It was much more difficult to move around with the boat heeling and it also made it difficult for our bodies to adjust to the motion of the waves. I popped some Dramamine and gave the children some as well. I grabbed some ginger cookies, crackers and water for us and quickly got everyone out in the cockpit where we could get some fresh air and see the horizon. Munching on crackers while viewing the horizon is often the best medicine for sea sickness. This helped a lot, but we had to wait for the medicine to kick in and our bodies to adjust. While no one actually got sick, Marlee complained quite a bit of nausea. Eventually our bodies settled down, but it took work to make sure we didn’t start feeling motion sick again. We skipped lunch and just ate crackers, ginger cookies, ginger ale and granola bars all afternoon.


The waves were bigger than the forecast predicted and the winds slightly gustier. It wasn’t raining, and the sun shone a little too, but it was a far different experience than our last two calm days! The children, of course, always have their life jackets on, but today all the adults wore them too. There were very few sailing boats out, but we did spot some large ships. The radios were pretty quiet too.

Kid sized binoculars pass the time while sailing
naptime in the cockpit

We thought we might be able to make it to our destination today instead of sailing one more day, but because the waves were so choppy and we were all feeling a little ‘green’ we decided to make it a shorter day and go to an anchorage we mapped out nearby, in Mobjack Bay. “Nearby” is relative on a sailboat though, since going only 10 miles takes about two hours! The anchorage was still a couple of hours away but we knew we were close and we could finally reach some protected waters.

When we entered Mobjack Bay we really weren’t sure where to anchor. We watched the depth sounder to make sure the waters weren’t getting too shallow but the waves were still a little too choppy to make us feel comfortable. Although it would mean another 45 minutes or so, Mike decided to take us in a little further to find calmer waters. We did finally reach a wonderfully calm little spot surrounded by trees and houses. We dropped the anchor and sighed in relief. We were now on the East River. It was a much more challenging day. Sitting in that anchorage away from the rolling waves was that much more comforting. We watched rowers as we sat on deck and relaxed. Since we hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day we all gulped down a dinner of beef and gravy (already prepared) plus noodles and zucchini.

Only one more day to our destination of Norfolk, Virginia!

So glad to be at our calm anchorage


October 5, 2016 – Day 4

I woke up ready to face another challenging day. The weather forecast was the same as the day before so this time, I prepared myself. Quick breakfast, woke up the children and got them dressed and ready before we headed out into the bay. Set out crackers and ginger ale and gave everyone motion sickness medicine again. Lifejackets on and we were ready to go!

It was challenging knowing what to do with Haven while we sailed. We figured out quickly that she did not like her lifejacket, but taking it off was not an option. She cried most of the time she was in it. We put her car seat in the cockpit and sat her in it while donned in her life jacket and she hated that even more. Since she still took a few naps everyday I would lay her down in her travel pac and play (which was set up in our cabin) as often as I could. That gave me freedom to help the other two, steer at the helm or help Mike on deck. I would find making Haven comfortable was even more challenging on choppy days like today, though not impossible.

A pacifier helped to calm her while in the cockpit

The waves and wind were again stronger than the weather forecast predicted. It was colder today too, so along with our life jackets I pulled out the gloves and hats I brought as well. This was so different from our sunny time on the beach two days ago!

So glad I brought our winter clothes!

Since I prepared myself for another choppy day in the bay, I found I enjoyed myself more than the day before. We had what we needed in the cockpit, and I decided we wouldn’t go below deck unless we really had to (like to use the bathroom) so I just found a comfortable spot and gazed out into the water and let myself feel the wind and spray on my face. As I was sitting just enjoying this cold, gray day as much as I could, I spotted something unusual out of the corner of my eye. It came from the water. We hadn’t seen any wildlife so far, except for large brown pelicans and sea gulls. But something flashed out of the water for a second that we hadn’t seen before. I kept my eye on the waves and there it was! A dolphin! I shouted to everyone to look as well and there they were, their shiny blue-gray dorsal fins bobbing up and down in the waves! I glued my eyes to the spot and we could tell there were several of them swimming along next to our boat! I tried to help the girls find the dolphins too, but I don’t think they knew what they were looking for in all the gray. But what a treat! A school of dolphins on this dreary day!

Hello Norfolk!

As we were approaching our marina in Norfolk, we took down the sails and simply motored, which removed a bit of our stability. Those last few minutes motoring in were quite rough as we rocked to and fro, hanging on to hand holds in the cockpit at the steepest of heels. But we were there! We were certainty so glad to be where we needed to be. We had learned through other cruisers that Norfolk, although still cold during the winter, did not have the threat of freezing waters like Maryland did. We knew if we left our boat there for the winter, she would fine.

We had quite the greeting on our dock


Another day accomplished, another peaceful night

We would stay in Norfolk for another week then head home to Houston to finish up the sale of our house plus other work obligations. What a four days we have had! Interesting, challenging, amazing, beautiful, surreal and serene are all words I can use to describe this adventure. The first of hopefully many more to come!