21 April 2019
Although we have been hampered by bad weather over the last couple of weeks we have also had our share of good luck. While debating where to stay in Oriental while riding out the last storm system we chose the free town docks because of their central location. Little did we know that when it blows hard from the south the area suffers from a wind tide creating low water levels that can last for days. When we went to leave on Saturday morning Dagny's keel was sitting in the muddy harbour bottom but with help from two locals and a strong reserve gear we were on our way. However, had we gone to a marina in Whittaker Creek, as we had discussed, we would have been stranded for a couple of days. Bullet # 1.
Once we were freed from the gooey bottom we enjoyed a great downwind sail for 45 miles in 15-30 knots of breeze then we wove our way up the Pungo river under motor. By day's end we had travelled 70 miles, not bad for the ICW. The winds finally dropped off by late afternoon, with the exception the odd gust, so we buried ourselves deep into a corner off the channel and had a nice quiet evening.
While we were under way on Saturday we overheard a couple of boats discussing bridge closures which immediately caught our attention. We instantly went into lurking mode when they switched channels and discovered that there were two bridges on our route that were closed due to flooding. Our route was to take us through the Virginia Cut in the ICW, however, the bridges had been closed since Friday on a day to day basis. After a few phone calls and radio conversations with other boats we decided to take the Dismal Swamp route. Bev and I had transited this historic canal in the fall and found it interesting but had no intention of returning this way. It is narrow, shallow, long and straight plus the over hanging trees add to the adventure. However, had we not lurked on the radio we would have been trapped in the Virginia Cut for a few days waiting for the water levels to drop. Bullet #2
So tonight we are tied up at the South Mills lock with 7 other boats. The flotilla will leave tomorrow morning at 7 to transit the Dismal Swamp and proceed on to Norfolk. As always the ICW can be a challenge but it is ironic that this year we have had better sailing conditions then on our trip from the Bahamas.
Today's picture is of Dagny at the Oriental Town dock, taken from th coffee shop.