Where we at

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


We spent a couple of days in Norfolk while Russ got a root canal. All good, by the way. But we noticed a distinct pattern in the weather. Storm clouds formed around 2 pm. While they didn't result in storms near us, we don't like to push things, especially after the event in Belhaven. Given the length of the ride to Deltaville, we wanted to get a very early start and be docked around 1 pm. We got up at 5:30, fed and walked the dog, had coffee and headed out. We were underway by 6:45am.

The water was insanely calm. Our ride could not have been better. In fact, it was so calm we decided to do something we'd been planning on doing once we hit open waters. Recalibrate our ship's autopilot.

Having used the system a while now we were never impressed with our autopilot. It ambles, swaying back and forth like a drunken sailor! Seriously messed up. Up until now, as a result, we've been driving. Which is pretty easy given the cockpit setup. It's like driving a big bus. But occasionally, when the water is churned, it can be tough to steer and you'd rather have an autopilot make those micro adjustments to keep her straight.

A bunch of furloughed cruise ships
After some research our autopilot has a little song-n-dance it has to go through, called a Sea Trial. We knew it was a set of tasks we or the autopilot had to perform and that ideally you want to do it in calm waters with calm winds. But we didn't know how long it was going to take. Answer: about 15 minutes. 

It was a series of 4 tasks. First, run the engines wide open and see how fast the boat goes. (About 16 knots). Next, do some donuts while it resets the compass (we did about 2 complete circles). Then point the boat into open waters without any obstacles, get to cruising speed, and the autopilot takes over, swaying back and forth a bit until it (apparently) gets the feel of the boat. Lastly, point her straight for a "true north" calibration. 

Hello Chesapeake Bay! Look at that water.
The result was amazing. We have a usable autopilot. Which is going to be very useful on the wide open waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

By noon, however, clouds began to form. Our ETA was still around 1 pm but we kept a very close eye out. Storms began popping up around us. And our radio announced severe thunderstorms in the area, with strong winds and hail.

By 12:30 the water started to swell. Not bad, but we had it on our beam so we tottered a bit. Once we got off the bay the water settled, and docking was pretty easy.

About and hour after docking...
An hour later, lightning flashed around us, winds kicked up to 30 mph, rain and hail came down, waves 2-3 feet raced down the marina's channel, and thunder rocked the boat. 

It was awesome!

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