Sailing to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean 1500

Starting Out

The gang's all here - Night Heron at the fuel dock early Sunday morning. Jeff tops off the tanks while Greta tidies up the dock lines.   CiCi at the helm, piloting Night Heron down the Elizabeth River past Naval Base Norfolk.

Schooner, wearing his West Marine doggie PFD.  

The Caribbean 1500 was scheduled to start at 12:00 noon on Sunday, November 4, 2007, depending on the weather. On Saturday, we received a briefing at the Skipper's Meeting, and the weather looked like it would be just fine. Hurricane Noel would be far enough north to remove any concern of strong winds. There was some concern about lingering swells, but by the time we reach the ocean on Sunday afternoon the swells should be six feet or less, which is not much of a problem. At the briefing, we also received advice on where to cross the Gulf Stream, as well as route-planning advice for the trip as a whole. We learned that the easterly trade winds in the Caribbean were not expected to be very strong for the foreseeable future, so instead of the usual strategy of sailing well east then south, we might as well sail straight towards Tortola.

Jeff had asked us to be ready to leave by 7:00 am, so on Sunday morning we all got up early and went through the final preparations, stowing the shore power cord and water hose, securing everything on-deck and below, etc. After pulling out of the slip, we stopped at the fuel dock to top off with diesel, then motored away from the marina at 7:40 am.

As usual, it was an interesting ride down the Elizabeth River—there are so many Navy ships, and the ships are so huge, that pretty soon you begin to feel like an ant crawling along the sidewalk with giants looming over you. We even saw a lethal-looking black submarine cruising up the river, low in the water, accompanied by a small patrol boat to shoo the curious (or perhaps shoot the curious?). Unlike our mini-shakedown cruise, this time I took lots of pictures, which are on the next three pages.

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