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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Happy Halloween from NC
30 this morn/60s this afternoon
10/31/2008, Coinjock, NC

There was a freeze warning out this morning from 3 am to 9 am and definitely frost on the pumpkin and ice on the boat! It was grueling getting out of bed to make coffee and I was shivering while wiping the windows off getting ready to leave. I swear the further south we go, the colder it gets! I'd heard that it got into the 30's in Florida too (ready for us Wendell & Di?). It's following us... I hope not.

As the day went on it got better and a bit warmer. I made grilled cheese sandwiches and Wayne had the helm all day while I snapped pictures. I saw my first bald eagle this trip perched atop a dead tree. I'm not sure if the picture came out or not. I miss my old camera with the hunormous telephoto lenses at times like this .

The marsh areas were beautiful. We passed various cypress, sweet gum, holly trees, oxbows, saw black skimmers, ducks, cormorants and the water is very brown, almost like coffee, due to a lot of tannin from decaying vegetation. We saw a lot of Osprey nests in the channel markers but not really any ospreys in them.

We pulled into Coinjock around 3:30pm and tied up at the Midway Marina and got a nice hot shower then dinner at the restaurant here (Wayne's birthday dinner finally). The captain's platter had an assortment - clams, oysters, scallops, flounder and shrimp and I had HUSH PUPPIES! The first in 3 years since my fieldtrip here with MSS! So a classic seafood birthday dinner! Tomorrow we'll head for the Alligator River. I'm full & sleepy... nite - nite...

Mile Marker 0 to Great Bridge, Bridge VA
Low in mid thirties, high mid 60s, sunny
10/30/2008, Great Bridge Bridge, VA

After ham, eggs and biscuits, the boat let us know it was time to go. We were dragging past the marina entrance and toward the deeper channel water so had to scurry to flick on the instruments, windlass, etc., start the engine and haul up the anchor. It was strange how it held us nicely all night then let go during the morning hours - nice of it to let us stay safe during the night though.

Passed by some more of the naval shipyards and waved at a zodiac gunboat as we passed each other (he waved back - making me feel like one of the kids trying to get truckers to blow their big air horns LOL). Nice to see that they're patrolling and making sure our ships are safe J and still can wave hello in response. We vacillated as to whether to take the Dismal Swamp Route all the way up to the cutoff then decided that after talking to Joan, listening to Claiborne on the Salty Net, chatting with others, that we probably shouldn't take it (this trip?) and continued on the Virginia Cut. The bridge tenders seem a little "less laid-back" than the ones on the Erie Canal. One female tender was telling us sailboats to snug it up faster and tighter or we wouldn't make the bridge opening and we were all sitting grouped waiting for it to open, which it didn't for another 10 minutes. The current was strong so I was in reverse still going forward and she was telling us to snug up??? Hmmm...

Going through the bridge toward the canal we spotted a few boats that had been at the same anchorage we were at last night (in front of Tide Water Yachts). It surprised us because they left more than an hour before us in the morning. 3 of them stopped at Great Bridge where we stopped too, and a single handler looking for the Dismal Turnoff also stopped (he wanted to know why we were all tying up to the wall - I told him we were stopping for the night). I chatted with him a bit, and then we all moved our boats up along the wall in case anyone wanted to snug in behind us for the night.

We walked into Great Bridge looking for diesel cans and Chinese food (one of the boaters mentioned there was a Chinese Buffet here). Found neither diesel cans or the buffet but did find a Chinese restaurant. It had egg rolls on the menu so we got two to try out. I'd decided that if they were like the egg rolls I was used to, we'd return for dinner. If they were spring rolls (stuffed with cabbage basically) we weren't out anything and wouldn't return for dinner. They weren't egg rolls, but spring rolls - so it looked like dinner in tonight. Found an ABC store that sells liquor, went in there, a dollar store (mmm candy), a card store, etc... Great bridge has a nice town and a nice park setting that we're tied up to. Dinner was delayed by a knock on the hull and an invite over to Marianna (a Moody 42) so we headed over there and chatted with Fred & Pat (Marianna) and Dave and Cathy (Orion). They were two of the sailboats over at the Tidewater anchorage. It was past dark when we returned to the boat, but it was wonderful to chat with them. They've taken this trip 4 times now. Yes I had my trusty notepad to take notes and yes, I whipped it out and jotted down a few notes LOL - hope they didn't mind! It looks like we're all heading out for the 9:00 am opening of the bridge tomorrow and heading for Coinjock, NC. Tonight will be our last night in VA, tomorrow we enter North Carolina (land of sporadic cell phone coverage and probably internet access too). Hope it's warmer...

On the road again
Cold, Windy, choppy yukkkkkolllld
10/29/2008, Mile Marker zero for ICW

Topped up with a whole 3 gallons of diesel (but at 2.49/gal we had to try), pumped out and then headed out. Cold, cloudy, windy and very sloppy seas. Wind chill was 39 most the day. High wind and waves were trouncing us so we went no further than Hospital Pt, Norfolk VA (about 15 miles) and dropped anchor in front of the Tidewater Yachts Marina just past Red Buoy 36 which is the Mile Marker zero for the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW). My teeth won't stop chattering... We huddled under the blankets reading and staying warm. Are we having fun yet?

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