Entering the ICW
06 November 2010 | Portsmouth, VA
Diana/cold but mostly clear
We are all set to begin our trip down the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). The boat was in good condition when we returned. The nifty dehumidifiers I bought from West Marine worked well as did our sealants of various kinds because she was dry and fresh. Portsmouth is on mile marker "0" and the entire ICW is posted every 5 miles for navigation purposes. It's kind of like an address that businesses along the route use.
We wanted to take the Great Dismal Swamp for the first 50 miles but it was a bit shallow for our boat so we took an alternate route south. We went under a lot of bridges and held our breath each time. Our boat's height to the top of the antenna on the mast is 64 feet and the bridges are mostly 65 feet - depending on tide and/or wind it can be a bit dicey. We only pinged one bridge and it was notorious as being only 64 ft. Surprise also got to go through a lock. Very interesting as we and about 6 other boats motored in and tied up on the side while they closed a gate and let water out. We went down about 3 feet in as many minutes. We then untied and motored out continuing on our way. There are many boats heading south - all talking when they can about where each of us is going as well as where we have been and what type of boat we have, ect. ect. Many of the bridges must open for the boats and we need to use the radio to request an opening unless it is set on a schedule in which case we try to time it to hit the opening times. We have used our VHF radio a lot.
We had hoped to anchor but the canal was too narrow so we pulled up to the side along a wall of the canal where a "marina" had sprung up. Across the canal was a campfire, lots of vans and trucks and a band playing with the worst vocals I have heard outside of my shower. We had just passed out of Virginia and into North Carolina.