La Aventura with Patti & James

06 July 2018 | Faial Island –Atlantic Portugal
24 June 2018 | National Holiday day in Faial
22 June 2018 | afternoon whale watching boat trip
20 June 2018 | an enjoyable day trip to another island.
19 June 2018 | Fabulous Faial. – Azorean Island
18 June 2018 | Faial Island – Horta Harbour - Mid Atlantic
29 May 2018 | Mid Atlantic - in the middle of nowhere
26 May 2018 | the cruising yachtsman’s haven
25 May 2018 | party day in Hamilton
10 May 2018 | Vero Beach/Ft Pierce –road trip to Jacksonville.
12 April 2018 | Vibeke onboard
17 March 2018 | lovely to return to Belize and Mexico and meet up with sailing friends along the way
24 January 2018 | I have become so interested in Guatemala textiles
17 January 2018 | So great to catchup with so many friends and our families
01 November 2017 | what a wonderful Guatemalan fiesta to experience
29 October 2017 | Volcanic crater
28 October 2017 | Antiqua - Guatemala

La Aventura becomes a canal boat.

22 October 2015 | Off down the Dismal Swamp Canal - Norfolk Virginia to Elizabeth City North Carolina – via the ICW (Intercostal Waterway)
chilly nights – beautiful clear, warm sunny days

IMAGE – follow the boats.

FRIDAY 16 – Off down the Dismal Swamp Canal - Norfolk Virginia to Elizabeth City North Carolina. The ICW (Intercostal Waterway) commences at Mile Marker Zero in Norfolk, Virginia and officially ends at Mile Marker 1095 in Key West, Florida. We are heading south with some travel through the ICW. Just after passing through Norfolk the ICW splits off with 2 canal choices to pass through Virginia and into North Carolina. We are taking the slightly longer, more rural route – the Dismal Swamp Canal. The Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest operating artificial waterway in the United States – cutting through Norfolk Virginia to Elizabeth City in North Carolina.

Our 1st important stage – just 5 miles away, was to pass through Highway 64. The Gilmerton Highway road bridge and Railway Bridge opens 4 times a day at set opening times – we went through on the 1st opening at 8.30am. Immediately after passing under the opened bridges the canal splits off – we made the sharp right turn to head down the Dismal Swamp Canal. The weather was due to change, with light rain showers forecast for the afternoon – so we chose not to move too far and anchored just 2 miles along the canal at Hole in the Wall – a small man-made basin. We were alone and happy to be warm and dry down below watching movies for the rest of the day.

SATURDAY 17 – we woke to a misty and foggy morning, visibility was not great, but we needed to push on. Our 1st important stage today was to arrive at the Deep Creek Lock at mile marker 10 for its 1st opening of the day at 8.30am. All good – we were welcomed into the lock by Robert the Lockmaster with 4 other boats – total 4 yachts and 1 motor boat for this lock. One yacht was OCC and one Yacht was UK – CA members – sadly we couldn’t get off to chat with either of them. This lock lifted us up about 9 feet unto non-tidal water – the whole procedure was slow, with the Lockmaster chatting with everyone and showing off his conch blowing skills too!

The weather was due to change to strong northerly winds for the weekend – so we decided to made a stop and not carry on with the cold northerly blowing right on our backs. Just after passing through the lock there was a secure dock suitable for boats to stay. We headed in and made ourselves at home – there were porta toilets, a lovely park with lots play area for kids and picnic tables. We commenced work on a broken stanchion foot – at least it was warm weather to work out on deck.

At the 11am lock 10 boats passed through – and 1 stopped at the alongside dock with us. The 2 men on board quickly walked off to the nearby supermarket and were off shortly on their way again. After getting our stanchion foot off – we discovered that the teak base was not in good shape so if possible we could now renew it…. but the teak wood we had onboard was just not quiet the right size!! James walked over to ask the lockmaster if we could possible buy any wood locally in the nearby village and just by chance came across a man who said he has some teak at his home and would bring it to us – how wonderful. We waited for the last lock of the day at 3.30pm to see if we would get a neighbour – but the 6 boats passed on through – so we would be alone for the night. We made a quick walk into the nearby store – mainly to check if we could get any internet and see what was available. Yes- James even found a 7/11 store for some free ice for our afternoon sunset drinks.

SUNDAY 18 – The Great Dismal Swap is not dismal at all – even today with a strong, chilly wind blowing it was serene and beautiful. The ‘fall’ leaves and starting the change and we could see and few red and golden leaves on the tall canal-side trees. This canal was surveyed by a young George Washington in 1763 and has been continuously used by commercial and us’ boaters’ since its completion in 1805. There were no boats passing through on the 1st lock of the day at 8.30am – this was a bit of a disappointment for James as he had be invited over for morning coffee by Robert the lockmaster to watch the boats pass through – instead they had coffee and chatted for a while.

James returned to cook our usual Sunday breakfast and then we took a long walk through the lock-side park and later into the village to the supermarket and internet store. When we returned we had 1 neighbour staying the night, but didn’t meet up as it was late and getting cold. It was a very cold night – with temp about 5degC – this is the 1st time I have prepared a hotwater bottle to warmup the bed for the night.

MONDAY 19 – We wandered over to the lock to watch the 8.30am locking procedure and have coffee with the lockmaster – there were 3 motor boats in this lock. Just a little further along the canal after the lock is a narrow, low road bridge which the lockmaster has to manually open to allow the boats to pass through…. so we untied and followed the recently locked boats to pass through. We motored along the 21 miles long land-cut canal – it really did feel like we were in a narrow ditch in the middle of farmland – but it was quite and very picturesque with the multi-coloured trees gently rustling as we passed. We had plenty of daylight time – so just slowly motored at 4 knots with the whole Canal to ourselves- as the motor boats had all sped off.

At mile Market 25 we crossed over the state line – now out Virginia and into North Carolina. Our stop for the night was at Mile Marker 28 at the complementary overnight tie-up at the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Visitors Centre. This visitors centre is also a road truck stop – but most truck were passing through as the restaurant facilities were being refurbished. The Visitors centre was open and we were able to collect some maps, watch an informative video and get some quick internet. The lady in the Visitors centre said that this area had had its 1st frost overnight – so yes it was cold! We had 4 other yachts on the dock with us for the night. Hotwater bottle in the bed again tonight!

TUESDAY 20 – We were up and left the dock by 7am to push on through the land-cut. Our 1st important stage today was to arrive at the South Mills Lock at mile market 32 for its 8.30am opening. All OK – we arrived in good time and had breakfast whilst waiting for the lockmaster to arrive for work. We were the 1st yacht into the lock – this lock took us down approx. 2.5m. The locking process was all quickly handled and very easy indeed – we are old hands at the locking business after our Panama experience with Ednbal at the end of February this year. 5 miles after passing through the lock we came out into the Pasquotank River. A beautiful wide openwater area – a little twisty at times – but we now again had post and starboard channel markers. I steered and James kept a good eye on the chartplotter – this canal ‘driving’ takes lots of concentration and needed both of us in the cockpit at all times – a bit different from just letting the boat sail herself with the wind.

At mile market 50 we arrived just north of Elizabeth City – our destination goal for today. To enter the city we needed to pass through The Elizabeth City Highway Bridge – this opens on demand – so James VHF’d the bridge keeper and within a few minutes it was opening just for us!! Elizabeth City makes a big deal of providing free facilities for all the boaters passing through via the Canal. There are berths for 15 boats right in the centre of the town – with toilets, hot showers, WiFi and Visitor Centre – just great. We were made to feel welcome and after getting a town map and a quick walk to stretch our legs.

WEDNESDAY 21 – Warm and sunny weather – the temperature had risen with the now light southerly winds. We took a 3 mile round trip walk to the supermarket and after lunch found the local library for some highspeed internet time. All the boaters on the dock today were invited to a Hospitality event at 4.30pm. Beer and wine with cheese and crackers were laid on and the towns Mayor had a chat with about 30 of us. The Mayor is a boater and was full of useful info and was funny and friendly. James had got some good TV programmes from the highspeed library internet – so we had a good TV night in.

THURSDAY 22 – Another beautiful clear, warm and sunny day. We visited the regions Museum, did the round of the shops and art galleries in this quite little town and after lunch headed back to the library for more internet time.
With some good north sailing wind forecast, we have decided to sail through the Outer Banks on the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds rather than continue motoring down ICW. After a few nights anchoring out, we will then head for the town of Oriental.
Vessel Name: La Aventura
Crew: James & Patti

Who: James & Patti