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Old 14-07-2008, 06:15   #1
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From the ocean to Washington DC

Hi Everyone
I am currently writing a fiction novel - my first and in the epilogue a character from the story, sailing single-handed in a Hallberg-Rassey 62ft yacht, travels from the ocean to Washington to visit the Smithsonian Museum and see the Hope Diamond. I have already read a fews posts on this site that have given me some useful pointers but my specific questions are;
1. Is such a journey feasible?
2. Would he require a pilot?
3. I understand the Smithsonian has free admission but have they ever made a charge to view exhibits on loan from abroad?
As this is a sailing site feel free to ignore the last question.
Thanks in advance
Alan
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Old 14-07-2008, 06:19   #2
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Hi, Alan.

It's very straightforward to get from the Atlantic, up the Cheasapeake Bay, to the Potomac River, and on to Washington, D.C. Actually "sailing" the upper tidal Potomac might become a bit difficult as it narrows down and winds one way and another. No pilot would be needed with good up-to-date charts, as the way is well marked.

Can't tell you what the Smithsonian's policy on loaned exhibits might me.
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Old 14-07-2008, 06:26   #3
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From the ocean to Washington

Hi Hud
Thanks for your amazingly fast response and the useful information that came with it. I always like to to do my research before I write anything - fiction or not.
Many thanks
Alan
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Old 14-07-2008, 08:06   #4
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Single Handing an HR62??? Must be one HELL of a sailor! ...and rich!!...and he'll need to have the Woodrow Wilson bridge raised to get through with that 86' mast!!
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Old 14-07-2008, 08:30   #5
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Single handling would be no big deal except for docking. That boat would have either hydraulic or electric furlers and winches. I frequently single-hand my 58 footer with the autopilot doing most of the steering while I can handle all the sail handling from the cockpit. The new bridge will not allow passage of the mast. The opening must be scheduled and I believe openings are limited to early morning hours.
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Old 14-07-2008, 09:38   #6
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Alan

Your chosen vessel creates some problems; its 16 feet taller than the span of the new Wilson Bridge and 36 feet taller than the present span! It's 8 foot draft is not very handy either. [think Gunboat 48 or a whisper quiet Fastcat 455 and slip right through!] With the Halberg Rassey 62 you would be limited in places to a very narrow part of a moderately wide river, most notably at the Washington Channel marker between Haines Point and the National War College, which you would have to enter very cautiously if you are going to the Gangplank Marina (The Gangplank Marina | Washington, D.C.) which only rarely can accomodate a 60+ foot boat. The Harbormaster would probably rent you a temporary mooring in Washington Channel, which is a delightful place to visit. Does your yacht club have exchange privileges with Capitol Yacht Club on Water Street? You could dinghy in there. Walk a couple blocks east to the Waterfront Metro Station, and take the metro virtually anywhere in the District of Columbia, twenty hours a day. There are cameras monitoring entrances and station platforms.
You could get there by making an appointment to have the bridge raised in the early hours of the morning, or follow one of the infrequent visits by larger ships. The Washington Post receives a shipload of newsprint every month or so, that requires the bridge to open. The new bridge tower is a visual treat, and I can picture a bored attendant be startled by an extra masthead light passing through in an evening mist!
If the bridge is a stumbling block, you could tie up at the new National Harbor (National Harbor Home Page) and ride a water taxi up to the District. Or put on a white tux shirt and baggy black pants, and get lost in the restaurant and hotel shift change traffic on the bus to the metro station in Anacostia. Soft briefcases with a shoulderstrap are de rigeur on the Metro. But I think National Harbor is a bit Kitsch.

Water traffic above the bridge is closely monitored, and patrolled. There is pretty good cooperation, but a little rivalry between the something like 20 different uniformed police entities in the area, coordinated by radio, internet and dedicated ground lines. There are occasional turf tiffs, especially between the FBI and ATF, but not even the DC Park Police could be pictured as bozos.

I'm afraid I've revealed a bit more of my questionable imagination!
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Old 14-07-2008, 09:45   #7
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Old 14-07-2008, 10:36   #8
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Its a fictional novel let him use his artist(ic) license........
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Old 14-07-2008, 11:04   #9
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I'm looking at the movie rights! Backgrounds! Sounds! Scantily-clad bow-bunnie accomplice with AK-47! Evil scar-faced henchmen with white hair! Pursuers running aground in front of Mt Vernon as hero pulls boards and cracks open black assymetrical chute and escapes into convenient fog in his stealth painted radar evading FastCat 455, which a grateful author and producer will let me keep for my valuable contributions!
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Old 14-07-2008, 11:19   #10
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Coming in from the open ocean to the heart of DC? I'd hope someone would try to stop it and sink it before the boat could even enter the Potomac! Surely in the age when even a 4 ounce bottle of mouthwash is a homeland insecurity crisis, we don't just let folks wander in and up the rivers?!
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Old 14-07-2008, 13:37   #11
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Thanks for a fantastic response

Thanks everyone for a fantastic response.
Apart from all the invaluable and surprisingly detailed information you've supplied, the humour in your feedbacks has had me holding my sides in case they split with laughter. I think some you you guys should be writing novels - that's if you're not doing it already.
If I can get the thing finished and published I'll let you all know and if it makes it to film I'll mention you to the casting director - or whatever they call themselves these days.
Cheers
Alan
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Old 14-07-2008, 15:18   #12
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Yes indeedy, hellosailor. I regularly sail within a ten-megaton radius of Washington, armed with two 16 oz bottles of Grocery Store Imitation Listerine Whitening Pre-brush Rinse which contains Hydrogen Peroxide, an essential ingredient in Balistic Missile Fuel. If I ran into a barge full of cow manure (fertilizer was the main ingredient in the Oklahoma City explosion) near the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Facility, I'm sure alarms would ring in twenty intermediate management level offices of the Department of Homeland Security, where midnight oil and overtime funds would burn while hundreds of loyal defenders toil away, justifing a grade increase, or the necessity of hiring more subordinates, citizens with GEDs and no arrest record, which in turn would justify a grade increase. But they will meet the threat with increased vigilance: You thought taking your SHOES off at the airport was embarrasing.....
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Old 14-07-2008, 15:52   #13
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A few weeks ago, I read James Patterson's "Sail." The sailing errors in the book are unbelievable. The fact that the Hallberg Rassy 62 wouldn't make it under a certain bridge is nothing compared to Patterson's gaffs.

I wish I could remember them in detail. One was fixing a coolant hose with some fuel line, tacking errors, and the idea that a boat of this size would have a gasoline engine was just silly.

Patterson makes similar errors in other books like mistaking the standard of proof in a criminal case as "preponderance of the evideince" and some really bad jury picking procedure than most non-lawyers would know to be false.

My point is that it is great to see someone writing a sailing book that is actually researching sailing!
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Old 14-07-2008, 16:31   #14
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Great stuff

Once again thanks for your tips and information, with this level of detail and information, along with what I already have, I have no excuse not to produce something credible. The novel is not actually about sailing - but there is some sailing in it and it is important to me that I get the details correct so that experienced sailors such as yourselves won't throw the book down in disgust if you ever get to read it.
Thanks and cheers
Alan
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Old 14-07-2008, 17:01   #15
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Agree with the evaluation of Patterson's "Sail". The errors were extreem. How did the boat get from Newport to the Bahamas in one day? What's with putting out a sea anchor with the sails up? Why did he need a snorkel in the engine room? And on and on and on. Alan - have a sailing consultant review your manuscript!
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