The ICW (Intercoastal Waterway), officially begins in Norfolk, VA, which we reached after three long days motoring down the Chesapeake Bay – no wind or very light southerlies, i.e., on the nose. Tiring, but still very enjoyable. We are liking our new lifestyle. BTW, the nautical term for no wind is FAC, an acronym for “flat ___ calm.”
We left Solomons Island early Wednesday and motored, briefly sailed, motored-sailed, and motored to Deltaville, VA, a very pretty and comfortable anchorage. Each day we are up with the sun. This is Solomons at sunrise:
Of course, the watermen are already out and working:
I’d never seen a rainbow so early in the morning:
Actually, I’m a night person and I rarely see a sunrise ever.
As we entered the Bay, hundreds of geese, honking loudly, flew over and around us. Amazing.
Here is our anchorage at Deltaville at sunrise:
Since we had no wind, we motored down the Bay. One of us is always steering. Goldwin typically has many boat projects to keep him busy, but sometimes he relaxes. Here he is, “wearing” the tiller cover as a hat:
Each evening, I use our computer chart plotter to plan the next day’s trip. Then, during the next day, I use it with the GPS to check our position.
As we approached Norfolk, dolphins welcomed us, briefly swimming at our bow. Unfortunately, they were very camera-shy.
When we reached the shipyards, we were the only boat in the channel, but suddenly four tugs pulled out, at the ready, and two huge Navy ships appeared behind us. We gave them lots of room and they gave us a show. The tug looks miniscule next to the huge ship, but we are miniscule compared with the tug.
Before anchoring at Hospital Point in Norfolk, we went to Ocean Marine and got diesel fuel and water and off-loaded our garbage. We used 13 gallons of diesel motoring down the Bay from Annapolis for 4 days (about half a gallon an hour). We seem to be the slowest boat motoring – we leave first and get in last because everyone passes us. Anyway, we also used very little water. I guess we could be using more water – we will try to be cleaner!
Saturday morning we were up before the sun so we could reach the Gilmerton Bascule Bridge just past Norfolk for the 7:30 a.m. opening. Then we raced to the Deep Creek Lock which is the beginning of the Dismal Swamp Canal, for the 8:30 a.m. southbound locking.
The lock keeper there is just wonderful – very knowledgeable about the history of the Canal and, even more amazing, he can not only blow a conch, but actually play notes and a tune.
Another 20 miles through the Dismal Swamp Canal and we arrived at the lock that controls the south end of the Canal, the South Mills lock. We got the 1:30 downbound locking, and the lock keeper was extremely efficient. By the time we reached Elizabeth City, NC, we had motored about 12 hours and all to a schedule of bridges or locks.
We would not go through the Dismal Swamp Canal again – too many underwater obstructions (we had four hits, one quite hard) and there were many deadheads, some with bottom paint on them. The Canal itself is beautiful and generally very quiet – we saw only one other boat.
But there was just too much of this:
What is that green gunk anyway? At times it covered the entire Canal, shore to shore.
But it was a beautifully warm and sunny day:
And we are now tied to a dock in the very hospitable Elizabeth City, where fellow cruisers helped us tie up. We formally initiated our boat by putting a bad scratch on the newly painted port side. Elizabeth City provides free Wi-fi, so we got to Skype with our daughter and son-in-law – very nice. I bet we sleep really well tonight.