Sunday, June 25, 2023

We have arrived in Chesapeake Bay!

 After over a year on the boat, we are starting the final leg of our sailing journey. We will sail up the Chesapeake Bay and leave Oyai near Annapolis with her new owners. In the meantime, we are making the most of the USA. We have been to festivals, theme parks, water parks, and historic sites. This return to full-on western civilization has been quite fun!

We left Beaufort, North Carolina, after waiting for favourable weather to head around Cape Hatteras. It’s a 36 hour trip around the Cape to the next safe anchorage (with lots of potential dangers along the way). Luckily, we chose a good weather window and it was smooth sailing (and motoring).  We rounded the Cape in the dark, but saw lots of warning lights.  We had Noel, the new owner of Oyai, on board for this leg and we were able to show him the boat in action.

We were fortunate to arrive in Norfolk, Virginia on the eve of their annual Harborfest. Norfolk is also the largest US Atlantic Naval Base, and we passed many massive Navy ships on the way to our anchorage.

Harborfest was amazing and we anchored right off of downtown Norfolk.  There was a very interesting “sail-by” of cool boats to start off the weekend. 

There were street performers and many other cool attractions on land at Harborfest as well. 

We toured around some of the tall ships that came to celebrate the festival. The people of Virginia have all been incredibly kind and welcoming to us. They are some of the friendliest people we have ever met. 

Being a huge naval port, Norfolk is home to the USS Wisconsin, one of the last massive Battleships. We went on a self-guided tour of this impressive ship. 

These gigantic guns were used in the days before computer/satellite guided missiles. 

The ship held as many as 2500 sailors and was essentially a floating city. 

There was an interactive nautical museum attached to the battleship that had many diverse and interesting exhibits.  The periscope was functional, and you could look through it and see Oyai out at anchor a few hundred meters away. 

There were some awesome science exhibits and we all learned more about things like plasma and weather. 

To finish off Harborfest, there was a cool “Drone Show” with over 200 lighted drones. We hadn’t seen a show like this before and it was pretty cool. 

The fireworks display to top it all off was epic (and we had front row seats)!  They really know how to put on a pyrotechnics show down here. We can’t wait until the 4th of July!

Next, we reunited with our French-Canadian ARC friends from “Jayana”. We spent a couple of days together before they headed north. 

Virginia has some spectacular theme parks and we made the most of the water slides and roller coasters.  Busch Gardens was on par with Disneyland for rides and the line-ups were short during the weekdays. 

Virginia also has some very interesting American History sites to visit. This is where the American Revolution started, and there is a fully interactive, restored city from the 1700’s named “Colonial Williamsburg”.  We learned a lot.  For example, the French were instrumental in helping the US gain independence from England. Both on land and at sea.  Here, we are discussing this with General Lafayette, who fought alongside George Washington. 

The actors would interact with you in a traditional style, if you preferred.  They could also answer any questions that we had about life back in the 1700’s and the specific details of historical events. 

We also visited William & Mary College right next door to Colonial Williamsburg. It’s the second oldest university in the USA (after Harvard).  It was established in the late 1600’s.  The campus was beautiful and reminded us a little of Hogwarts 😄.  One of Aria’s favourite book characters went to William & Mary. 

We were anchored off of a cute little town called Phoebus for a week during all of our land-based explorations. It had super-cool book/antique shops and many other quirky places to visit. 

We experienced some crazy weather while anchored near Phoebus. One afternoon, a thunderstorm rolled through and caused brief winds in the 40-50 knot range. Oyai dragged anchor very briefly before her anchor reset. Luckily the anchorage was huge and no harm was done. During that same afternoon, a tornado touched down about 10 miles away. A tree was uprooted, but no further damage was reported, apparently.  When we left the Norfolk/Phoebus area, we had some very wet weather heading north as well. 

The sailing has been great, but cool and wet. Even though it’s summer officially here, it’s no balmy Bahamas!  Check out this video for some of the sailing action. 

We will head up to Annapolis in the next few days and stay there while we visit Washington DC and it’s many incredible museums. Hopefully we will stay there over the 4th of July as well, and see some more great fireworks. Check back every week or two for another blog post!

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