What a week!
I had close to 50 hours of travel from my home in Australia to landing in Charleston, with about 12 hours to spare before our scheduled departure.
There were many new faces for me amongst the crew. They had done an impressive job of getting the boat ready and we were able to leave the dock and motor out of port in thick fog whilst we did introductions, and Erica (Maiden’s 1st mate) brought me up to speed on things.
We had some fairly light airs throughout the day so lots of catching up on goss and sleep, followed by some cruisy downwind sailing with an amazing sunset. I had forgotten how graceful Maiden felt ghosting along in calm waters with the spinnaker up!
We rounded Cape Hatteras the 2nd evening with a couple of sharks coming to say G’day. That night we were treated to a cloud free starry night to witness the entire lunar eclipse – absolutely amazing!
The following day, we approached Chesapeake Bay and as we passed Virginia Beach we had quite a spectacle with fighter jets flying around training (we hope they were training!). Then on into the Bay, sailing under full main and Jib top, just scooting along with ominous clouds brewing on the horizon and storms on the forecast and radar.
We got through/over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, quickly got all sails down and secured before hoving to under motor as we were greeted into the Bay in true fashion by sheeting horizontal rain, complete white out and a peak of 70 knots of wind. Considering we had spent just 2 days together as a team, we dealt with that situation fairly smartly and it was all over within a few minutes! We carried on up the bay towards Annapolis dodging crab-pots.
At sunset we had a massive roll cloud develop that was probably the most spectacular cloud formation I have ever witnessed. We changed course by 90 degrees, motored as fast as we could along it and just got around the back of it. The lighting show as the sun went down was impressive and we could hear severe wind and hail storm warnings by the US Coast Guard on the radio… thankfully we dodged that one.
A pretty uneventful night was followed by a warm flotilla welcoming from the Sea Scouts and local sailors that pulled on the old heart strings. It was idyllic conditions and you could see how excited everyone was to see Maiden coming in under full sail!