We made it to nothing!
20 June 2020 | Portsmouth, VA
We made it!
Our sailing catamaran PRELUDE, entered the US most recently at mile marker 1019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Now about eight weeks later, we are at mile marker 0 in Portsmouth, Virginia. We made it to nothing!
The mile markers refer to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW). This canal system was first proposed in 1802. The project ran a bit behind schedule and was still underway over 100 years later when the German U-boats of World War II caused renewed interest in completing an inland waterway to ship goods around the US. In a sense the project is still being completed as a modern fuel tax funds the Inland Waterway Trust to do things like replace bridges and dredge trouble spots (there are plenty, we went aground at least twice!)
It is probably best to understand a trip up the AIWW in videos.
First, every day is a potential travel day and that means planning. Planning a trip in a boat is more complicated than scheduling a car trip. Some bridges only open a few times a day and some don't open for half of the daylight hours. Sometimes the weather is only good in the evening and sometimes, like this day, only in the morning. (https://youtu.be/9-auMYOHLR8)
Once you are underway, you can experience “The Ditch.” The AIWW has lots of great small towns and interesting locks and bridges. But, mostly, it has long stretches of nothing. Mile after mile of the ICW looks like a thin river lined with trees or sand. (https://youtu.be/3JbVjVEJym4)
Even though the AIWW can be “A Ditch” sometimes, there are big advantages to that. You are very well sheltered from the wind and the waves. But, in parts of North Carolina, this is not the case. Here the AIWW passes through huge bodies of open water, the NC Sounds. (https://youtu.be/HdTo7nAGnuE)
Even after making many ocean passages, the weather was too rough for us one day on the NC Sounds and we had to abort a passage and pull into a marina.
There is a lot of traffic on the AIWW. Most of the ICW traffic is pleasure boaters in sailboat, motorboats, kayaks and canoes. But, you also get to see some of the world’s largest boats. Actually, that can be a bit scary. (https://youtu.be/1jgvcdgV76w)
At the end of most days on the AIWW we are in a marina. We can also anchor out but with a dog and hot weather, this is more challenging. You might think that this means we are stable and flat, and many times we are. However, most docks are not an extension of the land. They are not stationary. In reality, most of the docks we stayed at are floating. They move quite a bit and all the time (https://youtu.be/BOuY8tqadwk). You get used to it.
You can see lots more videos at our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnXcZc8kHiX7UKCcsyvij4g)
And, you can follow us moment-to-moment using our satellite tracker or see more photos by clicking on “View Tracker” or “Gallery” at our blog site
Now that we are here, we plan on spending the next three months cruising around the lower Chesapeake. There are tons of beautiful anchorages for gunkholing and towns for restaurant sampling. After a few months in the Chesapeake, we’ll turn around and head south for nothing again. This time, mile marker zero on US1 in Key West, Florida.