To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Week 4: Working Down the Bay

This week we're returning to Norfolk. Mostly to visit friends, but also to fix what we've broken.

The Commodore Says: "The Regiment Votes To Repair". However, that isn't always the best approach.

The Dinghy Issue is challenging. A hard dinghy is very rowable, but doesn't hold much weight, and limits you to a smaller outboard. An inflatable is almost impossible to row, requires patching, but can tolerate up to a 10 HP motor. Further, inflatables include rigid bottoms, multi-part bottoms, and high-pressure "Air Floors". What to do?

8th. Monday

Bound for Cockrell Creek, near Reedville, VA.


It was cold today: 7°C (45°F) when we woke up, 12°C (54°F) while we were sailing. And it rained. So we wore full foulies with our fleece vests and everything else that was available. Later, CA restowed everything to put winter gear into the accessible lockers and stow the summer clothes in the bins under the settee. We need our polypropylene long underwear.

Wind, however, was fair from the NE and ENE. When we bashed out of the Pawtuxent River straight into the teeth of this bitingly cold wind and choppy seas we were afraid that it would be a rotten sailing day.

But the cold, gray wind was barely blowing 15kn, so we actually had a great sail. It was cold and wet but we had yankee, stays'l and main up until the wind died away near Smith Point light. Then we motor sailed down into the Great Wicomico. We saw speeds over 7.5kn during the motor sail.

Start 38°19.896′N 076°27.578′W

Finish 37°50.425′N 076°16.453′W

Time: 9hrs. Distance 31nm rhumb; 41nm run.

Bought 42½ gallons of diesel. 10 gallons for the two jerry cans on deck. 32½ for the main tank.

While anchored in Cockrell Creek, I made this list of what's broken right now.

  • Starboard solar panel is cracked. It's a Coleman/Sunforce and isn't really suitable for marine use. But it was cheap and easy to install. We'll ignore this until a sunny day when I can check to see if it still produces voltage.

  • Yankee seems to be too high on the outer forestay. When we have a calm day with no travel plans, I'll unfurl, move the tack down, and refurl it.

  • Stays'l isn't fully into its foil on the inner forestay. Ditto the Yankee adjustment on a calm day.

  • The dinghy leaks air from the center tube. Inflating it in the rain was informative: the patch near the bow of the dinghy is the source of the air leak. The floor has also sprung a slow leak. The "Air Keel" tube never held air. We may just replace this 1991-vintage Achilles with something new. Dinghies can be patched. But. There's a limit. Repatching a blown patch seems to be too much.

  • The dinghy motor (a two-stroke Nissan NS8B) now runs intermittently, smokes amazingly, and seems to be leaking exhaust through the lower unit. Also the tilt-up bracket is broken. We've tracked down a Nissan/Tohatsu repair guy in Seaford, VA, right near Chisman Creek. He may be able to square this away. We really want to keep this 2-stroke running.


  • The Standard Horizon chartplotter bracket had a little nut threaded into the plastic. The nut has stripped out its mounting. This needs a dab of goo to hold the nut in place. Right now a small C-clamp is holding the chartplotter in place. And the C-clamp seems to do better than the little bolt and nut ever did.

  • The bilge pump can be used as a deck washdown pump by setting some valves. However, it now throws its breaker in washdown mode. The pressure sensor seems to have failed, leaving the pump running way past the 40 PSI cutoff. Perhaps it's time to replace the big-old Jabsco diaphragm pump two pumps: a slightly cooler Whale Gulper IC pump and a separate deck washdown pump. This is $300 of simplification. Or. We can buy a $40 pressure switch.

  • The battery temperature sensor on the Balmar ARS-5 regulator seems to be broken. The regulator reports error E-11 even with the sensor connected. A Balmar distributor at the boat show suggested disconnecting it; it might confuse the poor regulator. It's probably better, however, to replace the AGM engine battery with a Group 27 wet cell battery (like a NAPA 8307) so that house and engine batteries have the same chemistry; this may facilitate charging.


Attribute Value
Depart Start 38°19.896′N 076°27.578′W
Arrive Finish 37°50.425′N 076°16.453′W
Time 9 hrs.
Distance 31 nm
Bought 42½ gallons

9th. Tuesday

Bound for Jackson Creek, near Deltaville, VA.

Weather was described as wind from the N blowing 20 to 25 with dense fog.

We went out anyway. It was foggy and crappy and the wind really was blowing in gusts of 25.

We motored down the bay, too chicken to put up even our little-bitty stays'l. With the wind behind us and a fair tide, we were pounding along at over 7 kn much of the time. Our average was at least 6 for the trip as a whole, and that includes picking our way out of Cockrell Creek and running briefly aground in Jackson Creek.

Start 37°50.425′N 076°16.453′W

Finish 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W

Time: 4hrs. Distance 18nm rhumb; 23nm run.

Our priorities are these:

  1. Fix the washdown pump. The deck is a mess of Chesapeake mud. It's in the chain locker, too. Parts are on order, we'll pick them up when we get to Norfolk. If (for some reason) it's not the pressure limit switch on the pump, we'll have to rework the plumbing to add a washdown pump.

  2. Fix the dinghy motor. Tomorrow, we'll throw it in our truck and drive it down to the Tohatsu repair place on Chisman Creek. We can leave it there until we get to Norfolk, then drive back and pick it up.

  3. Address the dinghy leaks. The new dinghy is on order. We'll have it delivered to Waterside Marina in Norfolk, hopefully. We like the idea of the 10' Walker Bay with the High Pressure Air Floor. It weighs 80 pounds empty, and seems reasonably durable. It can accept a 10 HP engine, meaning we can continue to use our 8 HP two-stroke (after Carlton has fixed it.)

  4. When the wind is completely dead, I'll address the sail issues. Hopefully, we'll have a flat calm period at Waterside.

  5. I've put a C-clamp on the charplotter, which works well. That may be the permanent solution.


Attribute Value
Depart Start 37°50.425′N 076°16.453′W
Arrive Finish 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W
Time 4 hrs.
Distance 18 nm

10th. Wednesday

Anchored 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W; Jackson Creek, Deltaville, VA.

Since our car was at the Deltaville Marina, we could run some errands. We drove to visit Carlton, formerly of Atlantic Sea Tech, now more-or-less on his own, who repairs Tohatsu outboard motors. Carlton lives and works in Seaford, VA. We're going to leave the motor with him for a week (or two) until we get ready to depart Norfolk.

We also searched around for coir bricks or peat moss that doesn't have fertilizer and other nonsense in it. We found a garden-supply wholesaler who has small containers of "Dakota Peat" brand Peat Moss. It seems to be "pure" sphagnum plus miscellaneous plant matter without fertilizer. And it comes in smaller (1 cubic foot) packages.

Tomorrow's weather looks iffy. Yesterday we sailed in 20-25 and it was nasty. The prediction for tomorrow is 20-25 gusting to 30. 30. Gusts like that make it really nasty. I keep reading and re-reading the ANZ631 forecast for the Chesapeake Bay from Windmill Point to New Point Comfort and I find little comfort. It's supposed to diminish in the afternoon. But we have to leave by 11:00 at the absolute latest to make Mobjack Bay or Chisman Creek.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W

11th. Thursday

Bound for Chisman Creek, off the Poquoson River.

The weather predictions were intimidating: winds from the N at 20-25, gusting to 30. Seas of 3-4′. That's second reef kind of sailing: sail area reduced by 45-50%. Or smarter, still, waiting for better conditions.


  1. It was sunny: no clouds.

  2. It was going to diminish to nothing in the afternoon.

  3. The wind was fair for our destination.

  4. Red Ranger's a solid boat. The crew... meh. We need practice.

  5. The RPLV2 buoy data was comforting because it showed only 20 kn with gusts to 25. The predicted diminishing was confirmed to be in progress.


With a little bit of trepidation about gusts to 25, we sailed out into the bay, heading SE. We started with full main and stays'l, which was a wild rumpus. CA had to fight the wheel for almost two hours.

A puff over 20 kn would start heading us up and then Red Ranger's mains'l would start heeling us over: CA would spin the wheel hard and fast to keep us off the wind. Then a 4′ wave would bang the bow down, leaving her turning the other way just as fast to avoid an accidental gybe. [Yes, the preventer has a permanent place on our deck: an accidental gybe isn't really all that dangerous.]

Once we got well out into the bay, we could consider running more SSW toward Wolf Trap. We switched to Yankee, because we saw two other boats doing that. With just one headsail and a wind pretty far aft we tend to wallow. It was not much fun, but we made good time.

By noon the wind was down to something like 1o-15 kn, so we pulled out almost everything we owned and ran down the bay in fine style under yankee, main and mizzen.

At about 1300, the wind had fallen away to almost zero. So we motored the next two and one-half hours to Chisman Creek. The creek is very pretty with what seems to be good holding. It's also nice and wide, so we're happy anchoring right smack in the middle.

Skipper Bob's Anchorages Along the Intracoastal gives a quick summary of Chisman Creek at mile 181.0. Holding is a 3 (out of 4), Wind is a 3, Current is a 4 (there's none!), Wake is a 2 (lots of local boaters, we are in the middle of their creek), Scenic is a 3, and Shopping is a 1 (none, really, it's 1.2 miles to Seaford, VA, and I don't know how to get ashore in Goose Creek to minimize the walking.)

Start 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W

Finish 37°10.87′N 076°24.69′W

Time: 6 hrs. Distance 22 nm rhumb; 23 nm run.


Attribute Value
Depart Start 37°32.83′N 076°19.75′W
Arrive Finish 37°10.87′N 076°24.69′W
Time 6 hrs.
Distance 22 nm

12th. Friday

Bound for Waterside Marina, Norfolk, VA.

Weather report was winds from the West at 10 kt, building to 15-20 gusts to 30. This is really good for running down the bay and turning into the Elizabeth River.

The gusts to 30 will be a bit too "sporty" for us. But up until that develops, it will be ideal.

In the AM, we tried to run down the York river. This is challenging in Red Ranger because we have a collection of small headsails. The Yankee is less than a 100% jib and the Stays'l is even smaller: they're often blanketed by the main when sailing anywhere at or above 150° relative wind angle. Without a proper asymmetric spinnaker (and snubber sock) we just don't run well.

But we were trailed by Dolphins!



Irrespective of our sail handling problems, the wind clocked from W to N and even a little NNE. We were able to maintain a 120°-150° angle from the wind and eventually get pointed due S toward the tunnel and the Elizabeth River. We did gybe and beam reach against an adverse current across the tunnel.

As the wind built, the sailing got sporty. Sportier than CA liked it. About the time she handed the wheel to me, we entered the lee of Hampton and Buckroe Beach and the wind died. I had it easy. We ghosted over the tunnel at a meager 3-4 knots, struck the sails and motored down to Waterside.

In addition to Dolphins, we also had warships.



US Warship 47 preceded us over the tunnel.

At Waterside Marina, Juston gave us a bulkhead position: easy access, minimal maneuvering. Spitting distance from Eat At Joe's Crab Shack and Hooters. So, it's well-lit (and noisy) at night. But we're going to get our truck and address our lists of maintenance and repair tasks.

Start 37°10.87′N 076°24.69′W

Finish 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W

Time: 7 hrs. Distance 21 nm rhumb; 25 nm run.

Other things that appear to need attention.

  • Mixed Battery Chemistry. Charging an AGM engine battery in parallel with four wet cell batteries doesn't seem to work properly. Monday, we're going to Battery Outlet to get a new engine battery.

  • Mr. Lehman's water circulating pump seems to be dripping. Monday, I'll call Brian at ADC and order a new pump.

  • The anti-siphon fitting on the exhaust line seems to be dripping. Sigh.

There's plenty of work to do while we're here.


Attribute Value
Depart Start 37°10.87′N 076°24.69′W
Arrive Finish 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W
Time 7 hrs.
Distance 21 nm

13th. Saturday

Docked 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W

Our friend Linh (and G-Dog, a/k/a Guinness) took us up to Deltaville to retrieve the truck. We visited the little festival at the museum next door and chowed down on some Crab Cakes.

On the way back, we stopped at West Marine to pick up a pressure switch to fix the bilge pump. Turns out that I ordered the wrong parts. Sigh. Must return them and order a whole new pump. The 1981-vintage pump seems to be just plumb wore out. The reason the 40 PSI pressure switch doesn't work has nothing to do with the switch. The switch is fine. The pump is no longer able to create 40 PSI. The "dampener" inside the pump leaks. While it can be rebuilt, it seems like it's time for a new pump.

Dinner at Kampai in Virginia Beach.

Now we have the truck, parked about 12 blocks from here in Ghent. I'll be calling West Marine tomorrow to place a complex order for a new pump, hose, hose clamps and an anti-siphon fitting.


Attribute Value
Arrive Docked 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W

14th. Sunday

Docked 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W

Turns out what we have the remains of at least three separate rebuild kits for the bilge pump/deck washdown pump. However, after opening the pump and installing the "new" dampeners from the rebuild kit (of unknown age) the pump housing doesn't seal tightly enough. The old dampener has a little groove in the rubber that fits a little ridge inside the housing. The new dampener lacks this little groove.



The pump just sprays.


At this point, I think a new pump is required: A PAR-Max PLUS 5 looks like it will totally replace the legacy pump. And it's the cost of two rebuild kits. I'll have to order some 1/2" hose and hose clamps, but it should work out nicely.

And, I need a heavy-duty Groco 1" vented loop for the engine exhaust line. I don't think I need any hose for this job. We'll find out the hard way if it can replace the corroded work of art that started leaking raw water onto the engine block.



Drinks with friends at 1800. Then saunter down Granby Street in search of food. Life is good, so good.


Attribute Value
Arrive Docked 36°50.63′N 076°17.51′W

This Week

Engine Hours: 14. Diesel Gallons: 0. Nautical Miles: 90 rhumb, 112 run.


Attribute Value
Engine 14. h
Fuel 0. gal
Distance 90 nm