If It’s Not One Thing…

Beautiful Mobjack sunsets mask hidden dangers lurking just below the surface…

November 19, 2017

    After our unsuccessful attempt at a pump-out, we decided to sit tight in the Severn River (the last of the four rivers as you work counterclockwise around Mobjack Bay).  Wind estimated at 25-30 knots with gusts around 40 knots (not gale force but a good blow) were forecast in a few days.

Instead of making a sprint for Norfolk, towards the oncoming wind, where traffic and protected anchorage space could prove challenging, it made more sense to wait it out where we were.  Mobjack Bay is large, but it is off the Chesapeake, and we were well upriver from the open space of the bay as well.

Surprisingly, we were tossed around much more than we expected.  So, after one night, we picked up anchor and relocated from the southern branch to the northern branch of the Severn River, a location we thought would provide even better protection from the southerly winds expected in a couple of days.

We were well settled into a spot that we felt offered the least amount of exposure to the wind, which was expected to shift by 180 degrees over the course of a few hours, when Kris called down to me from the cockpit, “Houston, we have a problem… get up here, now!”

She pointed down at the water.

Exit’s stern slid slowly across the surface, pivoting on its’ anchor chain as the wind shifted slightly.  In the water, I could see the hazy image of what appeared to be some sort of a barely submerged pipe structure.  The pipe just sat there as Exit drifted closer and closer until it was right off the starboard side, and then we passed over it.  Then there was the unmistakable scraping sound of the pipe as it made contact and was pushed out of the way by the rudder.

With the pipe so close to the prop, we didn’t dare fire up the engine to try to move out of the way.  Our expensive new Maxprop could easily be destroyed if it hit the pipe spinning at 2000rpms.  Instead, we quickly grabbed the anchor windlass controller, hustled to the bow, and started hauling in the anchor chain, trying to pull ourselves away from the pipe by shortening the amount of chain between our bow and anchor.

Putting a comfortable amount of distance between Exit and the dreaded, evil pipe (we still had 80 feet of chain out but at least now were on a radius about 20 feet inside of the pipe), we decided to stay put but wanted a reference marker so we would know where it was at all times.  That way, we could immediately tell if we started to drag and could lift anchor and move if it became a necessity.

After tying a bit of rope to an empty plastic bottle, a longer line was attached to the dinghy we had just lowered.  Then Kris slowly eased me back in the dinghy until I was right next to the submerged pipe.  It was metal, about three inches in diameter, attached to another pipe angling out 90 degrees from it, and descended out of view to what I assumed was probably the bottom about thirteen feet below… bastard!  I attached the line and Kris pulled me back.

Though the wind never reached the levels forecasted over the next 24 hours, we found it much bumpier than other anchorages we had utilized in higher winds.

As we departed Mobjack Bay for Norfolk, we left the plastic bottle tied to the submerged pipe as a warning to other boats.  We didn’t consider it littering, it was marking a navigational hazard in true Borneo fashion.

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