10/22/2009, Alligator River, NC
October 17th, 2009 Goat Island to the Alligator River.
10/22/2009, Goat Island, NC
Daylight brought a cold mist and some fog rising off the river. We put on all the clothes we have aboard to face the 45 degree temps. In an hour we passed through the Elizabeth City Bridge and headed out Pasquotank River. The wind was mostly behind us for the two hour run out to the Albemarle Sound which is notorious for rough water. We raised a sail for stability and motor sailed across without incident. Winds were about 15 from the northwest and although we rolled some, we have definitely made this passage in more disagreeable conditions.
As we approached the Alligator River we doused the sail to maneuver through the maze of day marks at its mouth. The shifting shoals here are really not that difficult if you just use the navigational aids and forget about your GPS. I used the GPS to find Green "3" and never looked at it again until we got to the bridge.
Once past the bridge we got our sails back up and had a wonderful sail down the Alligator listening to the MSU/Northwestern game.
Reaching the bottom of the Alligator at around 4:00 pm we moved north of the channel and anchored for the night in what has to be one of the most desolate places in the US. We are in the middle of a 50-mile square where there is nothing but scrub, ponds and lakes.
I wilted some fresh spinach (that wasn't going to be fresh much longer) in olive oil and garlic and made some beef and noodles for a nice dinner. We watched the movie "Once" which was great, and I went to bed listing to the wind howl. Kathy stayed up a watched a couple more episodes of "24. At one point the wind was so loud that I got up and set the anchor drag alarm on the GPS. It makes for easier sleeping.
October 16th, 2009 Deep Creek, VA to Goat Island, NC
10/22/2009, Deep Creek, VA
We only went about 28 miles today but it seemed to take forever. It was a cold dreary day... perfect for transiting the Dismal Swamp. Everyone on the dock walked up to Robert's office, (read newly re-roofed and re-sided hut... with a conch garden and banana tree in front) for coffee and donuts. There were no boats locking through. So we wasted some time and around 9am left the dock. All four of us were ready Robert opened the Lift Bridge and we were on our way.
It was an uneventful trip. We hit things with our prop a couple of times bout nothing too hard. We slowed to a crawl for the last four miles and were locked through South Mills by 2pm. It is an hour and a half to Goat Island from there and we were anchored by 3:30.
The weather calls for 15 to 20 in the Albermarle Sound tomorrow, which may be a little dicey. I think we've been there in worse, so we'll just give it a go and turn around if necessary.
October 15th, 2009 Norfolk to Deep Creek Lock, VA
There was no reason to hurry this morning because the Lock opening at Deep Creek wasn't until 11am and the Gilmerton Bridge, which was an hour away, was closed between 6:30 and 8:30 am for rush hour. We had coffee and lounged around until 9 and weighed anchor in a cold drizzle. As we motored through the Norfolk/Portsmouth shipping complex the rain picked up to the point where visibility was not so good. We had a short wait at the Gilmerton lift bridge but were the only boat in the area so marking time was easy.
We slowly motored up Deep Creek past a couple die-hard fisherman were caught a nice one as we passed in steady rain. In front of the lock were 7 boats, five big trawlers a small Cat and a Hunter. We were last in line.
Getting everyone in the lock took some time, but eventually Robert closed the door and we were slowly lifted about six feet to the level of the Dismal Swamp Canal. When the doors opened about 20 minutes later, all seven boats continued on while we treaded water just past the lock exit. There were three boats on the dock with lots of space between them. It was pouring by now and there was only one person in sight. -some tall guy in a yellow slicker. His boat was at the very end of the dock and we could easily fit behind him if the two other boats would move down. Normally, in this situation, boats would have already tightened up to make room but not this time. I ask if anyone was aboard the boat that needed to move and the yellow guy said yes and walked down the dock to knock on his boat. After discussing the matter for a minute the yellow guy came back to say that he would move his boat backward and we could take his spot.
Then the other guy came out and said that he would move ahead but that it would take some time. Meanwhile, at the short dock, which is adjacent, a very nice Canadian stood out in the rain and asked if we wanted to raft off. I thanked him but said that there was more than enough room on the larger dock.
Finally with the boats moved and retied, we slid in the vacancy with an impressive Captain Ron move. The yellow slicker guy, who's name ended up being Nils, asked Robert, who had arrived by then, if I knew what I was doing and Robert told him that I "knew exactly what I was doing."... a nice vote of confidence... but the truth is that docking on the port side where I can use the prop walk to suck us in is easy.
It was still pouring as we tied up and thanked everyone for coming out in the rain to help us. We had some lunch and knocked off the only two tasks that we had on the list before mid afternoon. Nils was having problems with his new Honda generator and I offered ours since our battery bank was maxed out on our two-hour trip.
The rain let up and we wandered up to Lock to see if anyone was locking through on the 3:30 opening but there wasn't much action. A Tow Boat US came through hauling fuel to some idiot who ran out about 12 miles in to the Swamp.
One of the two sailboats who locked through with us and continued on hit something about a mile into the canal and messed up their prop. There had to turn around and Robert locked them through later in the evening.
Nils and Pat... the yellow guy and wife, invited us over for dinner on "Fairwinds" ( A Bristol 41 which is now Kathy's second favorite boat) as thanks for the use of our generator and we had a very nice time with them.
We returned to "Sapphire" and watched a movie before hitting the sack.