Old friend.

Today Monte, Kurt and I sailed Cupholder to our favorite cove, to check out the reopened and recently upgraded Arkansas Bend Park.  We walked ashore and checked out the new bath houses, parking lot, playground, and campsites.  I checked on a couple of my geocaches.  We anchored and floated for a while.  It was nice to experience the lake again from our favorite wooden boat.

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Portsmouth & Norfolk.

After taking care of the boat yesterday, Lori and I walked around historic Portsmouth. This place is rich with history, homes dating back to the 1700s.

I haven’t talked much about the heat here, but it has been brutally hot and humid for the last two weeks. The east coast is covered with heat advisories. So, while we walked around town, the streets were deserted. The only other folks we ran into were cruisers from another sailboat we passed yesterday. No matter, it was fun to get out and walk around. And last night a front blew through, bringing cooler temps (and rain).

Today we took a foot ferry across the Elizabeth River to Norfolk.

We toured the Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin that is on display there.

This ship played important roles in WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm. Amazing; six decades of service.

I am headed back home today.  Thanks for the adventure, Lori!

 

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2 week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM0!

Day 14 – 8 bridges. 1 lock. 12 miles. On the road, again! We left the dock right before the 7AM opening of the Battlefield Bridge.

Immediately after the bridge is Great Bridge Lock connecting the freshwater Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal to the south, and the saltwater Elizabeth River to the north, lowering us one foot as we traveled north.

After this, there was only one more bridge for which we had to time our arrival, as it doesn’t open during morning rush hour.

All the other bridges are either fixed or are usually in the open position; even the bridge that delayed our arrival.  Below, you can see Norfolk beyond the formerly broken bridge.

We got an up-close view of Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Est. 1767!) as we motored past.

It felt really good to pull into Trident’s new home slip. Mission accomplished!

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

Virginia.

Day 13 – We are still tied up at a boatyard waiting for the Belt Line Railway Bridge at MM2.5 to open. Below, we are second from the left, boats waiting…

We haven’t been idle, though. This morning Lori went for a run, I found a geocache, and walked through a nearby wooded park.

We are in an area called Great Bridge. The nearby historical markers tell a story of the first-ever Revolutionary land battle in Virginia Colony which was fought right here. And we won! The British forces were repelled with great losses, and that was the first victory for the American colonies in the war.

This afternoon we cleaned the boat top-sides and inside. Laundry, showers ashore, and then a lovely dinner of tapas and wine at a restaurant less than a mile away.

We learned tonight that the bridge is now OPEN!! We will leave in the morning to travel these last 12 miles. One last sunset on the canal!

I’ve enjoyed chatting with our temporary dock neighbors. Everyone has a story to tell.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM12.

Day 12 – 5 bridges. 37 miles. So close, but yet so far. Lori and I got up this morning at 5AM and were off the dock by sunrise.

We knew it would be a challenge today: maintaining a good average speed, the number of bridges, one lock, and some of them only open on the hour. But as of 2pm, we were ahead of schedule! We had worked so hard today to eek every tenth of a knot of speed from the sails. Then, just 12 miles from our destination of MM 0, we learned over VHF from a benevolent bridge tender that the last bridge up ahead that we needed to pass through today, at MM2.5, was stuck in the down position since yesterday. ETA for opening: 0700 Monday morning.  Ack!  Today is Saturday.

Luckily we were right next to one of only two dockage options for the night, so we hailed them on the radio and asked if they had room, and they did.

So, here we sit, VERY close to ground zero, but having to wait it out. We have electricity, food, and wine, so all is good.

But MAN we were so close!!!

On a positive note, I saw lots of flying things! 🙂

A bald eagle on watch at dawn…

Juvenile ospreys…

More geese…

And a bi-plane…

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM49.

Day 11 – 1 bridge. 33 miles.

We left our anchorage around 9AM this morning. We crossed the 10 miles of Albemarle Sound, and then wound our way up the North River.

The area was beautiful, again, and virtually undeveloped. We are side-tied to a dock tonight at Coinjock Marina, literally on the land cut in the ICW.  So we should be able to leave early and easy.

Dinner ashore. Showers! Chatting with dock neighbors. And cribbage.

Here’s to a great day tomorrow!

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM82.

Day 10 – 3 bridges. 53 miles. There is 20-ish mile man-made land cut between the Pungo River and the Alligator River on the ICW. It’s very straight, and surrounded by tall pine trees.

This was the last section of the ICW to be completed in the 1920s to allow inland passage between Norfolk to Miami. We took that cut today and were able to put the jib up for an extra knot or so. Along the way, we slid past bald eagles, Canada geese, white-tailed deer, and many small birds.

After exiting the land cut we sailed up the Alligator River, which is huge. We had wind-driven waves but luckily they were on our stern, so it made for comfortable sailing.

As we turned off the ICW to anchor, a hellacious squall arrived. Lori saw 32+ knots as I was on the bow dropping anchor in the rain. Trident’s anchor held like a champ, as usual. We were treated to a double rainbow for our efforts.

We are anchored tonight right where the Alligator River joins Albemarle Sound, which we will transit tomorrow. It’s the last big body of open water that we cross on this trip.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM135.

Day 9 – 1 bridge. 45 miles.

The view from our anchorage in the South River at sunrise.

We pulled anchor early and crossed the Neuse River, under sail. It was a beautiful morning with no other boat traffic.

Then we had to drop sails to motor through a very straight, but pretty, land cut.  For the most part, today had us mostly crossing wide, open rivers like the Neuse, Pungo, and Pamlico Rivers.

Tonight we are anchored outside of Belhaven, just off the ICW.  Here is another gratuitous sunset photo…

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM180.

Day 8 – 3 bridges. 22 miles. We finished up last-minute chores this morning, and left the slip at slack tide, around 2pm. Goodbye Beaufort!  The string of signal flags on the flagpole at Beaufort Docks Marina spell out B-E-A-U-F-O-R-T.  🙂

Since we left in the afternoon, today was a short mileage day.  Along the way, we passed lots of small boats and shrimpers.

But we took a looong time to get there. We pulled out the jib and gained two or more knots. Tonight we are at anchor off the Neuse River, in the mouth of the South River. We anchored exactly at sunset here. A few minutes later, the full moon rose over the trees. Just beautiful!

Tomorrow’s a new day on the ICW.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

Beaufort.

Day 7 – A lay day; provisioning, geocaching, laundry, sightseeing, and a nice dinner out.

Beaufort (pronounced “bow-furt” not to be confused with “bue-furt” which is in South Carolina) is a quaint seaside town. North of here, the ICW changes from a narrow ditch to more challenging, open waters of the Neuse River, Pamlico Sound, and Albemarle Sound. We’re hoping to put the sails up at some point this week. But today we’re just hanging around the town.

Sunrise at the waterfront boardwalk…

One of two geocaches logged. Sneaky, eh?

We used the marina’s courtesy car and drove to the grocery store for supplies. Then we toured the North Carolina Maritime History Museum.

Pirates were a real thing here 300 years ago. Blackbeard started pirating in 1716. In 1717, he captured a French ship and turned it into his flagship, renaming her Queen Anne’s Revenge. A year later it ran aground in Beaufort Inlet. He died in late 1718. Pirating is hard! The wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge wasn’t found again until 1996, only a couple of miles from where we are right now.

After the museum, we enjoyed some fine libations and dropped a few Benjamins at the local shops.

We made friends with Freddy and Alvin, our dock-neighbors on the 100+’ sloop S/V Miniskirt. They are experienced crew and it was nice to meet them. She’s a beautiful boat.

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(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM202.

Day 6 – 2 bridges. 27 miles. When we left this morning, there was a parade of shrimp boats and tugs; more than we’d seen so far.

Today was supposed to be a short day but we were fighting mysterious tidal currents so we ended up only going between three and four knots for most of the day. Coming into Beaufort Inlet we passed this beautiful catboat. This one is for Monte…

Tonight we are at a marina in Beaufort, NC. We are 3 slips down from this bad boy, the S/V Miniskirt.

When Lori checked us in we got two wooden nickels for free beers at the marina bar. Let me tell you, my Yuengling went down fast. It was HOT!

I enjoyed visiting with friends of Lori’s from way back. They gave us a quick driving tour of the area. We walked out to the Atlantic.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM229.

Day 5 – 5 bridges. 56 miles. The new thing today was having to time our arrival at bridges that only open on the hour, or on the hour and half hour.

We had to dodge some hellacious thunder and lightning storms by doing circles for a bit. The currents seemed to be fickle today. There are so many inlets to and from the Atlantic that one minute we’ll have the tide with us.  But then we cross an inlet, and the current turns against us. Where inlets and rivers cross the ICW, sand builds up into shallow shoals, some are quite large and stick up above the surface of the water.  We passed this one where the locals had erected a flag, a palm tree, and a parking meter with a cleat on the side for boats to tie up. 🙂

The ICW in these parts flows right past the United States Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune. The ICW is sometimes closed here for hours due to live ammunition fire exercises.

Target practice…

There were no live-fire exercises today, thankfully.  We had originally planned to anchor right off the ICW here for the night. But, we had to abandon that plan due to the anchorage being closed for military exercises. We saw a space-age amphibious vehicle enter right in front of us.

I wonder what they would have done if we pulled in there to anchor.  🙂

So we continued 15 miles farther north than we’d planned to be today, and are now at a lovely anchorage at the town of Swansboro. We grilled kebabs, watched a wedding reception on the waterfront, watched our boat swing until the currents changed 3 hours after high tide, and took in another lovely sunset.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM285.

Day 4 – 2 bridges. 30 miles. We got off the dock easily this morning and headed on our way by 9AM. Every stretch of the ICW has been a little different each day. Today took us through the Cape Fear River. We had the tide against us for a couple hours and it was slow going through mostly sea-like conditions in the wide and deep shipping lanes.

We then turned back up into the ICW. Lori found a website where the Corps of Engineers posts images of current depth soundings all along the ICW, which provide the latest status on shoals and problem areas. We referred to that along the way. So we knew we were in for a couple of very low stretches today. We actually bumped bottom once today! The red and orange marks in the middle of the screenshot below indicate only 4 to 5-foot depths at mean-low-tide stretching across the entire width of the ICW channel.  We draw 5 feet.  AND we were hitting this stretch at low tide.  Exciting!

We pulled into Wrightsville just in time to get hit by our first thunderstorm/deluge as we were anchoring. Not bad. I’ll take it.

We grilled on the boat and rocked out until sunset. It was another lovely night.

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)

MM315.

Day 3 – 17 bridges (yes, 17). 58 miles. Today brought us across the South Carolina border into North Carolina.

Captain Lori picked the departure time perfectly, which isn’t easy with currents being different all along the ICW and worrying about vertical clearance under bridges, and the depth of the water along the way, given that the tide changes water depths in this area by 4 to 6-feet.

Again, we lucked out and were not hit by the storms around us. Today’s challenges were long stretches where the current was against us, which slows us down, and navigating the areas of the ICW that cross river inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. The coast guard temporarily moves the channel markers to safely navigate changing shoals in these areas. Oh, and there was that one jackhole in a fishing boat who nearly ran into us from behind at high speed as he wasn’t paying attention. Luckily he looked up at the last minute and we only got water from his boat spray in the cockpit.

We started the day running up the ICW behind Myrtle Beach. Lots of homes and boat traffic.

Civilization, bridges, and traffic from the air and from the sea… ICW kitsch… Swing bridges that opened when asked nicely… More kitsch…First channel marker in North Carolina…

It turned beachy at Shallote’s Inlet. If you look closely you can see the surf breaking on the Atlantic side… And we got to see the backside of many beach homes…Home for the night…

(Note:  If you’d like to read the entire 2-week adventure from the beginning, THIS LINK will take you to the first post in the series.)