A LIFE'S JOURNEY
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER NINE:
Leaving the dock in downtown Norfolk needs just the right timing because there are a number of bridges that need to be opened to travel south. They are coordinated to open so as not to tie up automobile traffic in the morning and they are closed at night. Therefore, the trick is to get up early for the first opening or, if going north, to make the last opening of the day. All the boats heading south gather just north of the first bridge heading south and wait for the opening. The sport fishermen boats are usually waiting just a few feet shy of being under the bridge and jockeying for the first position. Then there is another group of trawlers and slower powerboat types, like us, a little further back. Sometimes we are there long enough and close enough to have conversations with the other boaters. The sailboats bring up the rear and are usually doing circles. The sailboats need to do this to keep some steerage for control. If there is a long line and a sport fisherman joins the group late, the sailboats and trawlers make room for him to go forward so he can join the other sport fishermen. This is done less as a courtesy than as necessity. If he is not up with the jackrabbits he will make every effort to join them in the short span to the next bridge opening. That means he will give you a rough pass with a large wake to be in front of you at the next opening. This same giving way extends all the way to the slowest sailboat. If you are new to the ditch, you find out about this pecking order early in the cruise or do a lot of rocking and rolling, which is not at all comfortable.
When the siren on the bridge goes off, signaling the opening of the bridge, the chaos begins. ..........................