R/V SLOTH & M/V NOMADIC SPIRIT

The Dismal Swamp and on to the southern Chesapeake Bay

03 September 2018
finishing up the 2018 season
After finishing up the Albemarle Loop in Elizabeth City we started our route north again. The Pasquotank River took us to the south lock to enter the Dismal Swamp Canal. This journey was 38 miles of scenic waterway that reminded me of our small creeks off the lake I grew up on in Wisconsin, but so much longer. Picture turtles sunning on logs in water smooth as glass and birds flying over their own reflection in an area barely wide enough for two boats to pass. It's a bit too long to travel in one day as the entire length is a no wake zone and several free docks are available.



The Great Dismal Swamp canal is on the edge of the 750 square mile National Wildlife Refuge of the same name. The canal is the oldest continually operating man-made canal in the United States as it was opened in 1805. In 1859 the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal opened rerouting commercial traffic away from the swamp leaving it for recreational boaters. Hundreds use this route for the annual spring and fall migration of snow birds. Depending on timing there can be so many boat tired up to overnight at the Visitors Center free dock that they raft up several boats wide.



At the north end we rejoined the ICW at the city of Chesapeake. One night in a marina and a couple of Uber rides refilled the larder and we were off to our last stop before entering the Chesapeake Bay.



Mile marker 0, the official beginning of the AICW, is smack dab in the middle of the world's biggest naval base. Naval Station Norfolk was established in 1917 and covers an area of approximately 3,400 acres. The USS Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy and sits proudly for the visitors to tour. This is a mighty impressive area to travel through in a little 32 foot boat surrounded by massive battle ships, aircraft carriers and supply ships.



We stopped to enjoy two free nights at the Portsmouth Town Dock. We were fortunate enough to arrive in conjunction with a street art fair and a farmers market. We toured the Portsmouth Lightship, walked the colonial streets and ate at a sidewalk cafe. This was another really charming town! It is obvious why the east coast has so much history, being where everything started, but to a Midwesterner it all seems awe inspiring.



This truly is a trip to remember. We finish this year on the southern Chesapeake at historic Cape Charles. We planned to end our incredible season with the MTOA Northern Rendezvous there but Hurricane Florence had other plans. Several boats had arrived before the event was canceled so we were able to participate in docktails and pot lucks before we all scattered to save harbors. We hauled our boat, secured it for the winter, rented a car and headed back to out motorhome.

Splash, Cruise, Haul, Repeat!

Be sure to look at more pictures in the gallery.

174 days since launch
1719 miles traveled

The Albermarle Loop

30 August 2018
A side trip off the beaten path
Nomadic Spirit left our route north on the Intracoastal Waterway at the entrance to Albermarle Sound from the Alligator River. It was time for a side trip called the Albermarle Loop. This Loop encompasses several marinas offering free dockage to lure boaters off the beaten path, visit small towns on the Inner Banks and maybe even aid the local economy. Here we experienced southern hospitality at its best, visited a few museums and enjoyed small local family run restaurants. Our excursion consitsted of 120 miles and thirteen days. Albemarle Sound has a reputation of rough water and often boaters will wait for a weather window to cross the 12 nautical miles of open water as charted if staying on the ICW. Traveling around the sound was very comfortable for us with settled weather, one exception was a moderate chop for a short day, but we were seldom over a mile offshore. It was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of weeks.



The first stop on this circle route took us up the Scuppernong River to Cypress Cove Marina. New owners Ken and Kelly Moore greeted our boat and made us feel at home. This is a small marina with a big personally. Free laundry and a courtesy car is available for use and there is a Tiki Bar for a few hours each evening for socializing and getting to know the owners better. Blue Crabs were in season and I planned to buy fresh crabs off a local boat, that is until I saw all those legs wiggling and trying to get out of the bucket. I used the excuse that I didn't have a pot on board big enough to boil them, the captain read between the lines and laughed at me! DeeO'gee also enjoyed the visit and had some much needed off lease time with local playmates.



From there it was a grueling day to the Columbia Municipal Dock at just under a mile and a half. This town is being revitalized with an interpretive trail along the waterfront, the Cultural Resource Center and the Pocosin Arts studio, among others. When I registered at the municipal office next to the docks I was asked if i needed anything including a ride for provisions. This stop would not have been complete without a visit to Vineyards On The Scuppernong for wine tasting and unique gifts. Columbia has a way to go to be a destination but they are working on it.



Plymouth is located on the south west portion of the sound on the Roanoke River. It was hard hit by the Civil War and few historic buildings remain in the downtown area. The waterfront has been improved over the last few years with two area for dockage. The town square has a long dock at the gazebo and a bit further up there are piers by the restored and relocated historic Roanoke River Lighthouse. This little town is really trying to bounce back and boaters are often surprised by the Mayor stopping by for a visit and welcoming them. The two day free dockage here extends for several additional days.



Edenton on the northern shore is adorable! Another Roanoke lighthouse was moved to the waterfront there and makes for a lovely sunset picture while enjoying docktails. This is the first colonial capital of North Carolina, the town surrendered immediately to the Union and preserved all those charming homes and buildings including the states oldest courthouse which was built in 1767. A few publications have named this delightful town among the prettiest in America. The trolley tour was an interesting way to hear some of the towns history and view The Historic District and Cotton Mill. Several restaurants within blocks of the docks and even a small movie theater offering a current selection added to the charm. A friendly dock master checked us in, gave us a welcome packet and offered a courtesy car for provisioning. There were so many attractions, including an upcoming Saturday Market that made us want to stay longer, and at only $1 foot for additional days we were tempted.



A planned golf community, Albemarle Plantation is a beautiful stop. I might consider renaming this development Crepe Myrtle Plantation after all the picturesque streets lined with these colorful trees. The dock master was incredible and gave us use of a golf cart to tour the Plantation. Golfing is available at a reduced rate and the driving range was complimentary. A swimming pool, two restaurants and some of the nicest folks anywhere added to our enjoyment. AGLCA Harbor Hosts lived in the Plantation so we contacted them to join us for docktails. Buz and Barbara were most gracious and went out of the way for us!



Our clockwise direction placed our completion perfectly in Elizabeth City and the entrance toward the Dismal Swamp. Elizabeth City was once a major seaport where sailing ships carried goods to and from the new world. Today it hosts pleasure boats that choose to transit the Dismal Swamp, instead of the ICW route, chasing pleasant temperatures to and from Chesapeake Bay.



On this final stop we had two docks to choose from. Mariners' Wharf has free docks for 48 hours. The "Rose Buddies," the waterfront ambassadors, greet visiting boaters with a rose, wine and cheese. I suspect this is more of a tradition during the spring and fall migrations.



Pelican Marina, just a short walk over the pasquotank River Bridge to town, participates in the Albermarle Loop Promotion. Both Docks are a bit rustic but we opted for electricity to run our air conditioning, temps and humidity were running high. Elizabeth City is a pleasant town with almost anything a passing boater would need. The large modern building on the downtown waterfront houses an interesting Albermarle History Museum and the City visitors center. Free concerts on Tuesday evenings, Friday Art Walk and Saturday market at the Wharf Park.



The only stops on the Albermarle Loop that we skipped were The 51 House near Edenton, a nice restaurant with a protected basin and no services. Alligator River and Shallowbag Bay, which are listed on the map though they do not offer the two free nights but do offer a free pumpout. Manteo municipal docks offer free dockage with no amenities but forcasted storms caused us not to return to the Outer Banks. We would love to visit if we are in the area again in the future and would definitely return to Edenton and Albemarle Plantation.
Vessel Name: Nomadic Spirit
Vessel Make/Model: 32' Island Gypsy & 36' Monaco
Crew: Janice & Steve
About:
This adventure began in October of 2007 when Steve came to look at a boat that Janice had for sale on Craig's List. Steve wanted to learn how to sail and Janice needed a new kitchen. [...]
Extra:
FAVORITE QUOTES: 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do then by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain 'We went cruising not to [...]
Nomadic Spirit's Photos - Main
Side trips off the beaten path
73 Photos
Created 28 August 2018
AICW: Stewart to Albemarle Sound
95 Photos
Created 11 August 2018
A side trip on the Great Loop
27 Photos
Created 3 June 2018
25 Photos
Created 9 November 2017
66 Photos
Created 29 September 2017
17 Photos
Created 29 September 2017
94 Photos
Created 4 July 2017
33 Photos
Created 4 July 2017
67 Photos
Created 3 June 2017
26 Photos
Created 30 May 2017
47 Photos
Created 20 February 2017
63 Photos
Created 16 January 2017
26 Photos
Created 12 November 2016
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Created 31 October 2016
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Created 22 September 2016
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Created 22 September 2016
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Created 22 September 2016
33 Photos
Created 25 August 2016
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Created 5 August 2016
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Created 5 August 2016
29 Photos
Created 11 July 2016
31 Photos
Created 9 July 2016
Mamouth Cave NP,Milwaykee, Indiana and Cuyahoga NP,
16 Photos
Created 7 July 2016
16 Photos
Created 19 May 2016
7 Photos
Created 25 March 2016
11 Photos
Created 22 October 2015
29 Photos
Created 16 October 2015
7 Photos
Created 15 October 2015
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Created 15 October 2015
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Created 19 September 2015
24 Photos
Created 19 September 2015
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Created 22 August 2015
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Created 11 July 2015
35 Photos
Created 10 July 2015
8 Photos
Created 28 June 2015
6 Photos
Created 28 June 2015
29 Photos
Created 22 June 2015
Our 'new to us' Monaco 36 with super slide.
7 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
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Created 8 June 2015
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Created 19 January 2015
10 Photos
Created 28 September 2014
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Created 28 September 2014
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Created 15 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
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Created 8 September 2014
10 Photos
Created 31 August 2014
20 Photos
Created 29 August 2014
My grand sons frog spent time with us on the sea
24 Photos
Created 5 August 2014
My grand daughters pet is traveling with us for the summer.
20 Photos
Created 5 August 2014
27 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
31 Photos
Created 13 July 2014
16 Photos
Created 13 July 2014
52 Photos
Created 8 July 2014
15 Photos
Created 5 July 2014
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Created 1 July 2014
10 Photos
Created 22 June 2014
VIRGIN VIEWS
58 Photos
Created 23 March 2014
13 Photos
Created 13 February 2014
11 Photos
Created 26 October 2013
9 Photos
Created 13 September 2013
11 Photos
Created 13 September 2013
Before and after pictures
4 Photos
Created 14 March 2013
10 Photos
Created 12 July 2012
9 Photos
Created 2 May 2012
8 Photos
Created 29 March 2012
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Created 29 March 2012
22 Photos
Created 15 February 2012
8 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
22 Photos
Created 19 December 2011
18 Photos
Created 10 December 2011
9 Photos
Created 26 November 2011
20 Photos
Created 10 November 2011
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Created 6 August 2011
26 Photos
Created 23 June 2011
17 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
5 Photos
Created 9 April 2011
20 Photos
Created 29 March 2011
19 Photos
Created 18 March 2011
Daughter Amie visits Sailacious
34 Photos
Created 1 March 2011
10 Photos
Created 12 February 2011
8 Photos
Created 16 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 16 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
7 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
10 Photos
Created 15 December 2010
15 Photos
Created 28 November 2010
24 Photos
Created 21 November 2010
6 Photos
Created 26 October 2010
26 Photos
Created 1 July 2010
31 Photos
Created 15 June 2010
26 Photos
Created 5 June 2010
17 Photos
Created 25 May 2010
12 Photos
Created 25 May 2010
11 Photos
Created 11 May 2010
36 Photos
Created 19 April 2010
5 Photos
Created 14 April 2010
13 Photos
Created 7 April 2010
41 Photos
Created 25 February 2010
18 Photos
Created 5 February 2010
36 Photos
Created 20 January 2010
11 Photos
Created 20 January 2010
Various shots during our time in the Bahamas
59 Photos
Created 25 November 2009
19 Photos
Created 25 October 2009
Our two week Shake Down Cruise
31 Photos
Created 18 May 2009
Sailing with Morgan and Kate on Winergie
15 Photos
Created 4 December 2008
Various pictures of day sails.
10 Photos
Created 5 August 2008
The boat that started it all, the bartered kitchen, and Sailacious
5 Photos | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 6 May 2008

One for the sea, One for the land...... Living the Nomadic Life is our plan

Who: Janice & Steve

Click: Where are we now?

'OMG It's Almost Time' in 'Getting the Boat Ready' attempts to describe my excitement of our impending departure.
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Check out our Favorite Anchorages and best snorkeling spots in Blog Catagory 'Our Favorite Things'
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And our thoughts on the completion of our first year in 'Our Cruising Advenures'!
'You're lucky if YOUR LOVE loves what you love the best' Eileen Quinn