Richmond to Hopewell

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’;
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name.
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’,
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same.
“Black Water” – Doobie Brothers

It wasn’t the Mississippi, there were no paddle wheels, but I did see catfish and tugboats as I slid down the James River with my “raft” last week. I had hoped to reach Norfolk from Richmond. That is about 80 miles as the crow flies (3 days sailing), however the weatherman seemed to have been correct this time and the threat of cold and rain cut us short. Still had a wonderful 1 day sail and overnight. I certainly felt like Huck Finn. As he’s know to have  said, 
“We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places seemed so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.”
At 10:00 we started at Ancarrow Landing downtown. A concrete ramp and pier sufficed for a quick launching. The wind was setting the boat on the wharf so I shoved off under mizzen only to sail backwards on a close reach across the river to Rocketts Landing.
The mark twain.


Landing construction date
Sailing in reverse.


Richmond, VA: Point ‘A’


floating piers at Rocketts.


Archeology of industry downstream.
The sun was perfect, winds from the NW at 15, and UNA sluiced along. The first third of the trip was a tour of tugboats and barges. I lay prone in the boat and watched the world go by. It was hard to believe the state capital was just behind as the waterway got rural fast.
gravel crane
tug and gravel barge from Norfolk.



For the most part the trip was a gentle sail off the wind. A few river bends forced some windward sailing.  We went under 3 bridges, passed a number of estates and/or old plantations and rolled into Hopewell against a surprisingly strong tide.
at Falling Creek



Sausage King’s estate (Jimmy Dean RIP)


power plant? need to look it up.


Benjamin Harrison bridge

I found myself dosing in the cockpit like a cat at points. Snacks and drinks taste better in the open air.

Shortly after Hopewell the winds slackened, tide kept pushing against us, but we enjoyed the scenery from chasing geese to watching the sun drop.
Shirley Plantation
Need I say more?
UNA slipped under the Jordan Pt. bridge as the wind nearly quit. I jury rigged some Navlites I was loaned to review for Small Boats Magazine. They are quite simple, but rugged. You can look for the write-up in the next couple of months.
Jordan Pt.
Moon over boom

I had hoped for a quiet creek just past Berkeley Plantation, but without wind and contrary current, I decided to pull over a mile short after realizing my rowing was making very little headway. After a quick pouched meal of curried spinach and potatoes, I hung out the lantern and crawled into the sack.


Well out of the channel and tucked under a cliff, the night was relatively calm aside from the few tugs passing in the night. They rocked the boat. 07:00 delivered morning, flat, chilly, and all was dew soaked. (I’m working on  a tent in earnest now). Breakfast was coffee, oatmeal, and snack bar. All stuck well to the ribs. Morning tunes set the mood perfectly.






With the impending gale coming and no wind, I had to choose a pull out point. The closest place downstream was a good day’s sail, if possible. With the tide about to ebb one more time I elected to retrace the last 1 1/2 miles back to Jordan Pt Marina. The sub 3 kt “breath” forced delicate sailing. UNA did fine for half that trip. Eventually, the wind dissipated to require rowing which was pleasant on flat water. While not a rowboat, my fearing does move with purpose once started. My wife came with youngest soon and trailer in tow an hour after we landed. The ladies at Jordan Pt. said I could forget the $10 ramp fee. Out of gratitude we  ate at their Crabby Mikes. Good cheese burgers.

Light air drifting. Hardly a wake, but moving.


buoy passed.


Crabby Mikes


my girl.

So ends this leg of the trip. We’ll have to return to finish the journey another day. Soon I hope-


2 thoughts on “Richmond to Hopewell

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