Burning Dinosaurs (NYC to the Great Dismal Swamp)

0730. Day one. Not quite the crack of dawn departure we’d hoped for, and I hope we won’t regret the extra hour in two days. At least we’ve got 2 knots of current with us so we are *flying* out of New York.

There are approximately 200 small fishing boats off of Sandy Hook, all zigging and zagging around us at high speeds. “Sitting duck” feels appropriate and I can’t wait to be out of New Jersey.

0130. First night. Flat calm, huge bright moon, incredible stars, no traffic around. Download a new book and revel in the wonder of a perfect night watch. 37° but we’re running the Dickinson and motoring hard — burning dinosaurs, as Jon puts it. My book is really good and the time passes quickly.

1230. Day two. Zephyr is officially 7 months old, and we have enough cellphone signal (with the booster Jon installed) for me to even Instagram a little celebratory post. It’s getting warmer already and we let Z sit in the cockpit on his own for the first time (in his Salus life jacket — the only one we’ve found with enough room for his chubby little cheeks). He’s extraordinarily pleased with the ability to explore all the lines by himself. I’m extraordinarily pleased to not be carrying a 19-lb weight around my neck for a bit.

2100. Night two. Lumpy and bumpy. Bow is repeatedly plunging under waves, showering our entire boat in a wave of crystal drops. We’re pushing the engine harder than we ever have. Jon reassures me it’s meant to do this, and I don’t have to worry… but of course I do. We’re relying on this little engine 100%, fighting headwinds and tides and darkness in hopes of making it somewhere tomorrow.

There’s a little water leaking from somewhere up front, so when I go to check on Zephyr (sound asleep despite the 6’ vertical plunges his bed is taking and the constant wash of glowing sea water over his hatch —- phosphorescence is amazing, but seeing it while looking up through the hatch is less fun) I step on wet laundry. “Squish” is never a good feeling underfoot (and I should probably find a new home for the laundry…)

Times like this, it’s hard to not think about how small we are. 33’ of plastic keeping us all afloat on this washing machine of an ocean. These miles are extra slow and painfully earned. I watch the “distance to destination” marker to make sure it’s actually still going down. In my 3-hr watch we make less than 9 miles of progress. Zephyr could just about crawl faster, and he currently only crawls in reverse. I start wondering if we’ll ever make it in, if I screwed up our weather-window, if entering an unmarked inlet in the dark in New Jersey is really a bad idea (it is), and why we continue to willingly *choose* to put ourselves in these situations.

Luckily my book is really good (“The Color Purple”) so I box my worries up and put them aside and focus on reading and staying warm until Jon’s watch instead.

0530. I went off at 0500 and Z woke up 30 minutes later; this is the result of very bad watch planning. Feed him, try to get him to take an early nap with me… it’s not happening. Pack him into some pillows down below so I can keep half an eye on him while also paying attention to the 1000’ warship entering my channel and the quickly changing conditions. Mother Nature doesn’t mess around and this requires full attention on the boat and what’s happening around us. Zephyr chooses this moment to have a blowout poop. Well played, young sir.

Jon tackles the poop. I tackle the nav. We swap battle ship updates with stool consistency comments. I think about how this will probably qualify as “retrospective fun” one day, but right now I’m just tired.

1530. Day three. We’ve made it. Into Norfolk (getting yelled at by submarines — multiple!! — and haunted by container ships), fueled up (new dinosaurs required), through our first bridge opening and even up a damn lock. We tried to anchor outside the lock but the lock keeper convinced us to lock up and tie to the dock instead.

While we’re waiting for him to open the lock, I’m driving us in slow circles up and down the skinny channel, killing time. Suddenly we stop moving and I have no steerage. Shoot. I’ve run aground! I up the revs. Nothing. Up the revs more. Steer hard to port… we move a tiny bit, but no forward progress. Max revs. I send Jon to the bow to see if he can see what we’ve hit. I’m looking at the depth sounder (which still says 12’… so confusing) trying to figure out how on earth I ran us aground already when I finally look down and realize… I’m in neutral.

I guess you could say I’m a little tired.

But we lock through (“are you doing a pee dance?” the lock keeper asks me. “No, it’s a baby dance!” I say, laughing. Zephyr is tucked into the wrap and I’m bouncing up and down to keep him happy while we lock up.

1630. We’ve made it!!! It’s 61° and sunny and FLAT calm and incredibly beautiful and we’re in Virginia (!!!) and we’ve already made new friends and I am SO HAPPY I cry a few little tears of gratitude.

1900. Bedtime. For all three of us.


Burning Dinosaurs (NYC to the Great Dismal Swamp) — 6 Comments

    • Oh gosh, thanks so much for the comment Kelly!! It’s like a little catharsis for me to write it all out and then tuck it away in the library of memories for later 🙂

  1. LOVE your blogs and photos. What a good looking family! Safe travels. Lunching with your Mom on Saturday and will get the updates! Rosemary

  2. So lovely to have these updates. Fond memories of you as a teenager and great to see your small family. Love, Heather & Peter

    • Thanks Heather! We are having so much fun reliving our path from 2014 and showing Z what cruising is all about. He makes even mundane things more fun!

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