Friday, June 1, 2012

June 1st - Oriental, SC to Norfolk, VA

Here's the quiz for the day .....
In Oriental we saw plenty of these hanging around. Does anyone know the purpose of them? I sure didn't, so I had to ask.

Our daughter Kelly's first question was "Why the heck are you hanging goldfish up in the boat"? Well, that's not what it is. I'll let you know later. As we continue our trip north up the Pungo River on the ICW, we've passed all kinds of vessels. A lot of tug boats with multiple tows use this waterway, so you have to be careful. This one had a full load of phosphate on board the barges. The channel is narrow and these guys need room to pass.

Since we are still in Swampland, USA there is a large amount of debris and trees floating around. The US Army Corps of Engineers does a fine job at keeping the ICW clear and when they get a deck full they pile it on the shores. Great until a storm comes through. Actually, the ICW is quite wide.

More bridges and more shipping to pass until we arrive at the Alligator River Marina. We stopped here for a night on the way south. Some of these bridges are very low so in your most polite voice you have to call the bridge tender and request an opening ..... or they just won't open them for you.

This bridge tender refused to answer our call but at the allocated time the bridge opened and we passed through.
Finally only one bridge left to pass and we were done for the day.

We still had 35 miles to go and it was looking like it would be dark before arriving at Alligator River. However, the warm breeze and beautiful sunset made for a most enjoyable evening as we motored up the Alligator River.

Tonight we don't have to worry about our anchor dragging. We're at a dock.
Now, the answer to today's trivia question. They hang bags of water around down here to get rid of these HUGE flesh-eating deer flies. They are all over and they measure up to 1.5 inches long .... and boy do they bite!

When you hit them with a fly swatter, they grab it from you and hit you back ..... just kidding!
Our route so far has taken us up from Beaufort, SC at mile 203 north to the Alligator River at mile 85. Now we have to cross the Albemarle Sound and decide whether to go left up the Dismal Swamp Canal or to the right and pass through the Virginia Cut.We had already made our decision to take the Virginia Cut to Norfolk. See the red line near the top in the photo below.

The Coinjock route through the Virginia Cut was nice but not nearly as scenic as the Dismal Swamp Canal Route. Coinjock is very small and has a couple marinas where you can stop, but it was still early in the day and we had a long way to go so we by-passed this little community.
Just to the north of Coinjock lies the North River then Currituck Sound, a ten mile long stretch of water that averages 2-3 feet deep except in the dredged main channel. Can you please tell me how you can get 5 foot waves in an area that is only 3 feet deep? The wind was on our stern and the waves were cresting and breaking near four feet high and it was very choppy.
That was a sleigh ride, now back into tranquility of the ICW and we continue on up to Great Bridge at Chesapeake, VA, about 12 miles south of Norfolk. We stopped for a couple days at the Atlantic Yacht Basin, where they had just dropped their transient fee from $1.75 to $1.00 per foot for a nights stay. This was a great deal. The guide books stated that this facility had 300 marinas. They were well hidden, because we couldn't find them! Along the ICW was a very long transient dock to accommodate some 50 transient boats. A walk that evening found the rest.
Behind the transient dock there were a number of old metal sheds that looked like old workshops. A look inside revealed a huge marina system that could easily store over 200 boats inside and under cover while still in the water. What a great hurricane hideout.

Inside shed 4 was a real shocker. This boat just barely made it in under the roof.

Most of the storage sheds were full of boats in wet storage.

In the winter you cannot find a spare berth inside these old sheds.
After a couple days here in Chesapeake, Virginia it was time to head further north to Norfolk and the land of the US Navy.

The next morning we were up early to make the 7a.m. opening of the Great Bridge bascule bridge.

This was soon followed by a transit of the Great Bridge Lock where they locked us through quickly and easily. It was now onward to Norfolk.

About 5 miles into this leg we finally crossed paths with the north entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal that we had passed in late September of last year. It's marked by these two small signs where you turn off the ICW.

Ok Sirs, Thanks for opening the doors to US navyland at the south end of Norfolk.

Man, this place is busy and noisy!

On towards Norfolk and we pass all the navy shipyards. What's this? A new aircraft carrier. I believe it's the USS Ronald Regan that they were building last fall.

In the US Navy they drydock a whole fleet at a time while in Canada we do one ship every 2-3 years.

Today, it was our intension to run from Atlantic Yacht Basin to Hampton, Va. Just north of Norfolk but last night they were hit by a tornado and the reports today are that there are boats all over the place and the yacht club had it's windows blown out ..... so I guess it's on the Deltaville.

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