Monday, June 23, 2014 (Atlantic Yacht Basin to Virginia Beach): North- or southbound in the stretch between Chesapeake and Norfolk, traffic passes through the Great Bridge Lock and a number of lift bridges on a schedule. Schedules do vary with season and are published at http://www.offshoreblue.com/ under the cruising tab.
We leave AYB in time for the 08:00 Great Bridge bridge and lock combo. Being on time makes for minimum waiting. Progress is relatively slow in this stretch of the ICW because of the traffic and bridges. There isn't any point in blasting up to the next bridge only to idle around waiting. Friend Mike was following our progress on our satellite tracker with a running commentary of text messages, "too slow" or "too fast," as we moved closer to Norfolk. Speed is limited until Hospital Point in Portsmouth northbound and, obviously, from Hospital Point through the bridges and lock southbound. The stretch is heavily controlled and the authorities do issue citations. You don't want to rock the Navy!
Once we clear Hospital Point we are in the Elizabeth River estuary where the chop and wakes kicks up. The route to Virginia Beach is straight to Lynnhaven Inlet a few miles beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. There are always fishing boats in the vicinity unless the bay is rough. Moreover, they don't much care where they troll their lines and care little for fast movers like us.
Lynnhaven Inlet, the last before reaching open water, is fraught with shallows. The outside channel is dredged and well marked out to deep water. Upon emerging from under the bridge the channel takes an immediate dogleg left. The Maryland pilot boats are docked on the north side and the channel stays narrow past the restaurants on the north. All charted depths are adequate and the channel accurately marked. Lynnhaven Bay offers 360-degree shelter. The near bank is dotted with expensive real estate and fancy mansions.
Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club is near the end of the bay. From the waterside it is magnificent. The dock staff is excellent. If Mike and Judy are your friends they lay out the red carpet down the dock. The docks are excellent, the price is right, and all boat services happen at dockside. We have our props to check properly. Mike introduces us to Rob Rice, the proprietor of Dockside Diving. He appears while we are enjoying lunch at the club. He notes that the debris strike cupped one blade of the aft starboard prop. He takes off all four props and delivers them to Bay Propeller because that is the only prop bender Mike will recognize in the Norfolk area. Right, Rob and I inspect the props while Rob's mate, Scuby, looks on. We visit Max the next day. He straightened the one prop in his T-3 die and made sure the others were true and balanced, too. Prop tooling is veritably an art and a science where caveman meets the computer age. I know Max has to be good because he is friends with my prop guy in Charleston by whose talents I swear.