By Jess Rampulla
On a warm September day, twenty-two CCAN staff members, friends, and supporters boarded a boat in Virginia Beach to see offshore wind turbines, located twenty-seven miles off the coast of Virginia. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was truly remarkable, and I was thrilled to be able to share it with other members of the climate community.
At eight in the morning, our group boarded a boat along with members of Dominion Energy staff and Rudee Tours to begin our five-hour trip. You could feel the excitement from everyone on board, ready for the journey ahead of us. While the first moments driving out proved to be rockier than expected, our CCAN group continued to exclaim how excited they were to be here, with people making jokes about if everyone had taken their dramamine for breakfast. After the water settled, we all loaded into the boat’s inner cabin, just big enough to hold everyone on board, to hear a presentation from a Dominion Energy staff member on what to expect during the trip, and facts about the amount of power wind turbines could produce.
After the presentation, everyone shuffled back out on the deck to enjoy the warm weather and try and catch a glimpse of the turbines. We could just barely see them off in the distance around ten miles offshore. On our journey out, I had conversations with several CCAN donors and supporters on board. Reasons for making the journey varied from “we could never have passed up this opportunity” to “I’m doing this to give my grandchildren a better future.” As the turbines became more visible, people on board began to snap pictures and crowd towards the front of the boat. Everyone wanted proof that they were here today, and to have evidence to share with all their friends and family back home.
Finally, after around two hours, we pulled up just feet from one of the turbines. Enormous doesn’t feel like quite a strong enough word to describe just how big these power sources were:
The thing that shocked me the most from being so up close was just how quiet the turbines were. They made no sound, aside from the whoosh of air as they spun. The boat stopped for around thirty minutes so everyone was able to admire the turbines and get all the photos they wanted. The joy on everyone’s face as they looked up at these huge structures was contagious. We were looking at the future of off-shore wind energy in Virginia. Maryland State Delegate, Lorig Charkoudian was on board and spoke with members of CCAN’s staff about how this was the ultimate goal for Maryland as well. While at the turbines, we had a surprise visit from a school of fish, swimming and feeding around the bottom of the turbines, proving that these structures don’t affect marine life in the area.
After our stop at the turbines, we started the journey back. We spotted a pod of about twenty dolphins swimming next to our boat, happily jumping in and out of the waves. We ate sandwiches and chips and made sure to keep hydrated and reapply sunscreen. The trip back was more subdued, with everyone appearing to process the magnitude of what they saw. As we pulled back into port and walked off the boat, groups of people formed, all sharing their own thoughts from the trip. As people loaded into cars to drive back home or begin a day of canvassing, I felt overwhelmingly grateful for this experience and to have the opportunity to work for a company like CCAN that helps move the Chesapeake region towards cleaner energy and a more sustainable future.