Sunday, March 4, 2012

Voyage 2- 3 Hampton, VA and Rally Prep – Judy (Steph in Italics)

We awoke the first morning in Hampton (October 30) with condensation dripping from the ceilings and a distinctly wintery feel to the air.  We quickly dressed and headed for the restrooms.  There was FROST on the docks and it was slippery!  I saw Kate and she asked how we were.  I mentioned that it was a bit crispy chilly on the boat and when she discovered we have no heater aboard, she brought us one within a few minutes!  Thanks, dear Kate!
The World Cruising Rally office was at Hampton Public Piers this year, so that made it very convenient for us to register, and attend seminars and social events that mostly took place right there.  About 20 other boats from the rally were at the same marina, so we got to meet lots of the participants.
Our dear friend and angel Trudy O’Reilly again was volunteering with the Rally and she had been collecting mail and shipments for us for a couple of weeks.  It was so wonderful to see her again!  She asked us if we needed transportation anywhere, gave us recommendations of where to find things and we also got to spend some social time together with a lunch at the local deli / café, Java Junkie.
Kate had planned a wine tasting at La Bodega for the marina visitors for the first night we were there.  We decided to go, even though we were in heavy duty mourning for our dear kitty Mary.  It was good to get out  and think about other things.
We spent the next week preparing for the rally.  We had last minute shopping, finishing up of projects, checking the rigging, fueling up, putting on water, getting information about filtering our dirty diesel fuel, attending seminars and partying, among other things. Bill Wier came out for a few days to help us when he wasn’t working.  We made multiple trips to West Marine, by shuttle and by car or riding with other folks or having them pick stuff up for us while they were there.
We received a call from the Yorktown Animal Hospital on Tuesday that Mary’s ashes had arrived from the crematorium and that we could go at any time to pick her up.  Since we had borrowed Kate’s car to run some errands and do some shopping, we went up right then.  It was good to have her back with us, though it was very sad.  The vet techs had made a plaster footprint of Mary and they gave us a lovely sympathy card.  Mary’s ashes came in a pretty white container with her name on a golden label and the Rainbow Bridge* Poem on the back. Before we departed on the Rally, we installed her container in the cockpit where she could see out and guide us safely to our destination.
As the scheduled departure day (November 7) approached, the excitement built.  There were special briefings for the Bahamas fleet and we had a special dinner for just the Bahamas group with Andrew, the head of World Cruising, and Johnny Powell, the Rally contact in the Bahamas.  It was very nice to sit down with the entire group and get to meet people that we hadn’t yet met.  Andrew listened to our concerns about feeling like orphans (with most of the info of previous years directed to the boats that were going to the British Virgin Islands) and he made some changes that benefited our fleet.
Tim Harris, our 4th crew member, arrived on Saturday for our Monday departure.  He and his honey Virginia were here for the farewell party and Virginia took me to the local laundromat to wash those pesky dirty clothes, sheets, etc. 
As you are preparing for an offshore passage, you listen to weather forecasts, look at weather maps, listen to weather routers and make your own, hopefully educated, decision in the end.  Well, it seems that Tropical Storm Sean had decided to make an appearance which would have caused a lot of big waves if we had left on time.  As it was the Rally organizers decided to delay for one day, then two and we finally left on 11/11/11 at 1000 hours.
When you have delays, it means additional shopping for food, frustration for crew if they have specific return plans and finding additional crew if someone can’t wait.  Luckily, both Tim and Bill ended up being able to still sail with us.  In addition to the aforementioned things, we had some spare time to relax and visit some local attractions.  Trudy has been the PR for Fort Monroe for several years and she knows the facility very well.  She arranged to give the ralliers free escorted tours of the fort.   It was extremely interesting!
The night of 11/10/11, we got a good night’s sleep so we would be ready to take off bright and early in the morning.
Chronologically, “Voyage 2-4, Cut To The Chase”  picks up where this ends.  It had been posted previously in order to expedite the story of our crossing. You can find it on the marginal index on the right.

Part of the rally fleet

Bentaña from the top down!

Part of the moat at Fort Monroe

Trudy describes the largest moated fort in the US.

Fort ramparts

Taking a cruise on the Hampton River.