Frost warnings here in NC, but it is better than the snow storm to the north. We decided to stay another day here at the Beaufort Docks. Tomorrow morning will be cold too, but the schedule for catching the tidal current going south is more suitable (i.e. after sunrise), and we have the heat on in the boat (first time use) and are feeling lazy.
A couple of things have surprised us so far on this trip, in addition to this cold snap. First, there are very few boats smaller than ours making the trip south. (We measure 35 feet overall length.) This means we are a little slower, and are frequently passed, but we have passed only one or two boats. Second, it seems like the majority of boats are Canadian! Probably not so, but there are a lot of Canadians making the migration. (Eh?)
Final surprise: at a breakfast cafe this morning a local couple stopped at our table to chat, as is apparently the way down here. When Annapolis was mentioned, I asked the guy if he sold Ranger boats years ago in Annapolis, and when he said yes, I asked if he was John Wright. Yes. This is the guy we bought our second arrow (Ranger 26) from in 1972! We sailed that boat for 32 years.
So... you can run, but you cannot hide...
After two nights at anchor near Bellhaven, NC, the second night due to a frontal passage that was very blustery, our weather turned grey and cool, but with a brisk north wind. Yesterday we did a lot of sailing in and out of canals, creeks, rivers, and sounds, and spent last night in Oriental, NC. Today we had a relatively short 20 nm motor, largely through a creek/canal to Beaufort. Navigating into this town was interesting because of the complicated channels, the brisk wind, and distractions such as porpoises jumping around the boat, and a very large shrimp boat that for some reason passed us several times as it wandered abound the channels.
We are tied up at the Beaufort Docks Marina for the night. Tomorrow we head down behind all the barrier islands, which should be interesting.
We did not have cell service for a couple of days, and my mobile broadband modem is acting up a bit so posts might be infrequent. The Captain is working the problem, and in any case emphasizes the incredible communication tools we have available. (Have YOU hugged an electrical engineer today?)
A reasonably quiet night on the Dismal, but not spooky,
mainly because of traffic noise on the drawbridge to
our south, and the interstate highway bridge to the north.
At around 8am, the collection of boats from the NC Welcome
Center began to arrive for the drawbridge opening at 8:30,
and the lock opening shortly after. The Captain would like to
report that in raising the anchor he performed a very nice
pi-radian arabesque in reverse to line up for the bridge.
No applause from the gathered vessels, but surely a 9.5
out of 10 was fair. And no further leaves or twigs on deck.
A lengthy lock loading ensued, and then a 2.5 hour parade down the
isolated, undeveloped Pasquotank River and through the
drawbridge at Elizabeth City .
As we watched the boats jockey for the free slips at EC,
the Admiral declared "press on." We had a very nice sail
across Ablemarle Sound and we are anchored in a small
river at the entrance to the Alligator River, arriving at
about 6 pm. (Keeping our fingers and toes inside the boat.)
Should be a quiet night, in an isolated but rather exposed
anchorage, with predicted calm weather. Tomorrow we
will figure out a comfortable objective as we covered 80
miles in the last two days, and we don't need to push that hard.
We have had lovely weather for several days... how long can
At anchor at the south end of the Canal, looking north.
Headed south from Mile 0 with the crowd, at least 25 boats going through the big bridges. At the entrance lock for the Dismal Swamp Canal it took about 1.5 hours to pack in 19 boats to be lifted 8 feet into the canal. Then a parade through the canal for 22 miles or so.
We skipped the happening scene at the NC welcome center tie-up, and continued to the canal end, though we cannot get out until the 8:30 am lock opening tomorrow.
We have insurance clearance to go as far south as fast as we wish, the hurricane situation being quiet. (Thanks, Lock!) So tomorrow we plan to cross Albemarle Sound into the Alligator River.
Admiral Terry insists that the Captain report on hitting a tree while doing the U-turn in the canal prior to dropping the anchor (and taking the picture above). Actually branches, but they dropped lots of leaves and twigs all over the deck.
The Captain hopes it will be a very quiet, spooky night on the canal.
Looking across the Elizabeth River at downtown Norfolk.
We had an easy ride down to Portsmouth, VA, with a
current assist much of the way. Arrived Saturday,
10/22, and we plan to leave Monday morning, 10/24.
Staying at a marina that is located at Mile "0"
of the Intercoastal Waterway, and is in the shadow
of the Navy Hospital where Uncle Skip was born
oh so many years ago.
Tomorrow morning we leave about 8:00 am - the schedule
determined by bridge opening constraints - and at
11:00 am we should be in the lock to be raised to
the Dismal Swamp Canal where we will spend the rest
of the day motoring south. (Only 898 (statute) miles
to Cape Canaveral.)
We are spending our time here boat keeping and walking
around Olde Towne Portsmouth, including visiting
Beautiful day to be going south... we traveled over 42 nautical miles in a bit over 7 hours, much of it under sail, on a close reach following packs of pelicans that seem to be heading our direction (and snacking along the way). We are anchored in remote Brown's Bay, on Mobjack Bay, where, wonder of wonders, there is strong 4G for internet access.
This is a beautiful place - nothing and nobody around, just water, trees, wildlife, and marsh. We anchored here for the first time last June.
Tomorrow looks good for Hampton Roads or Norfolk area