Posted by: supthecoast | May 17, 2011

BIG WATER

After a perfect paddle from Sandbridge VA to Cape Henry we were positioned to cross the Chesapeake Bay.

Checked NOAA weather and radar. Winds were 5-10 south ,Skies Partly sunny. We were focused.

As we paddled away from the safety of land we knew it would be 12 nautical miles to Sunset Beach VA,near Cape Charles.Nothing we haven’t accomplished.

At about the 1 hour point the wind  switched. 5-10 perfect south became 25 ish from the east. Seas built so rapidly the only thing we could do was press on. Being miles from land the seriousness of our situation became apparent.

My mind took over and I was calm. The radical un organized seas became 4,6,7,8 foot cresting and breaking waves. It’s hard to explain but I felt so ALIVE.

At this point I was  going through our exit strategy. 3 or 4 mile to our west sat the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Getting there was going to be a full speed push,but I was confident and focused.

It was a very demanding technical stretch of water. Things were going as well as could be expected…….UNTIL ~ The biggest cargo ship we’ve seen came into our path at about 15 knots.

At this point I knew our day was over. We needed to make it to the break water at the bridge.

As I went under the bridge the current and waves were like nothing we’ve seen. Will and I in my opinion had just completed the hardest paddle of our odyssey.

I did not feel defeated. I felt alive. Not like an “I survived” alive; more of an I’m alive because of the calmness and focus I was able to tap into.

Now what though? It’s a bridge with no way to get onto it. A small center console fishing boat was also in the area. After Will and I spoke about the situation I asked them for assistance.

They also were amazed at how fast the weather changed. Remember it was suppose to be a beautiful evening.

The guys in the boat continued to fish in the shelter of the break water while Will and I went over our strategy.

Our boards were longer than their boat so it was going to take a great plan to get them on the boat first of all. Then how do we prevent them from getting destroyed on the way back?

Fully loaded we made our way back to VA beach. A trip that should have taken 10 minutes by boat was closer to 45 minutes in nasty seas.

We had a destination in mind .Our friend Bill and Anne called ahead to a hotel on the Bay and our hero’s beached their boat and left us on the beach.In all the excitement we never did get their names. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I know 4 people who are going to have a hard time reading this. Mom,Dad and Mr. and Mrs.Rich. I promised them that I would watch Will and He did the same. So thats what we did. Thanks Will.

M

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Responses

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Way to stay calm in the chaos and look out for each other…the way of the Warriors. Get some Vermont PB back in you and press on when the time is right. Stay safe.

  2. Yesterday sounds pretty tough. But you seem to have handled it well. Keep up the good work and we look forward to seeing you in Little Compton.

  3. Gnarly! It is totally amazing how the ocean can go from flat to fluffy in mere minutes! You guys are making awesome time! And I’m glad you were able to run into some helpful folks. People are fantastic-especially on the water. Everybody pitches in when the poo hits the fan. Can’t wait to see y’all in NJ! Will follow your tracker for when u cross the DE. Stay safe!!!

  4. “The sea was angry that day my friend, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli…”. Glad to hear you guys are okay. The Chesapeake can turn ugly quick and I can vouch for the fast currents around the CBBT tunnels islands when the tides running. Stay safe and fair winds…

  5. Glad you’re ok.

  6. Zowie, What a story! I wondered how that crossing would be. I’ve been over that bridge a couple of times in the fog and it’s wicked creepy. Glad you’re on the other side!
    Go Guys!
    Tom & Kiri

  7. Wow…living this with your account. Was on that same bridge/tunnel last August on a VERY windy foul weather day. Kept thinking I was glad I wasn’t in my sailboat…wind probably 35 knots but 5’white capped waves breaking every whichway with cross-currents. Only 1 little boat with 2 guys fishing in the lee of a bridge piling…couldn’t believe they wanted fish that badly. Maybe your good samaritans ?

  8. This sounds like an incredible day, I am glad to hear that you made it safely through, take care and i hope mother nature is taking care of you. Best of luck with your journey and thanks for sharing your thoughts as you travel north. Be well.

  9. […] how someone was going to paddleboard it. Maybe go around and do the coastline of the bay? Nope, read here in their blog how they made it across.  (Took two […]


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