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Friday, 4 May 2012
Portsmouth,VA to Smithfield,VA
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 22
We departed from Portsmouth, VA at 0800 hours and our destination was Smithfield, VA to spend a couple of days visiting with our good friends and Wayne and Judy McPhail... they are MTOA members that we met at an MTOA rendezvous that was held at Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth in I believe 2006 or was it 2007... anyway, the McPhails invited any MTOA members to come up to Smithfield after the rendezvous and we went... and we have become good friends since then... we try to visit them on our trip north and south each year if at all possible... they are absolutely awesome people!

We arrived to there house located on the Pagan River at approximately 1130 hours and we spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday there... Our approximate location for the weekend was N36°59.605’, W076°37.432’.

We traveled for 3 hours and 30 minutes covering 23.18 nautical miles averaging 6.62 knots.
Posted at 6:50 PM
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Coinjock,NC to Portsmouth,VA
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 21
Had a great dinner in the Coinjock Restaurant… we were joined by our friend George that is aboard the sailing vessel SOPHIA… George and I were in the mood for a good cheeseburger and even though they were not on the dinner menu they happily prepared two juicy cheeseburgers for us and they were GREAT! Susan had fried chicken and I helped her finish it up… it too was really good.

We departed at 0800 hours and headed north. No matter what you do this areas bridge schedules screw you up… no matter what time you leave you just can’t make it from bridge to bridge at normal cruising speed. First bridge is the North Landing Bridge and you can make it normally without any trouble… I planned my arrival time at the scheduled bridge opening time… today it was 1130 hours… was right on schedule to arrive right at 1130 hours… then I heard a tug and barge hail the bridge and ask for an opening… commercial traffic gets an opening on demand… the bridge opened at 1125 hours… I was 5 minutes out and when I rounded the bend and the bridge was in visual range… it was swinging closed… I hailed the bridge on VHF and asked if he was going to open again at his scheduled 1130 hour opening and was told… NOPE, next opening is at 1200 captain… nothing I could do… we arrived at the bridge and waited 30 minutes till noon and passed through the bridge.

The next bridge Centerville is only 5 miles further north and opens on the same schedule as the North Landing Bridge… so you have 30 minutes travel 5 miles… doing the math you have to maintain 8.7 knots for the next 30 minutes to make the next opening… we just cannot do that so we have to travel the next 5 miles at half that speed… about 4.5 knots and make the opening an hour… sucks! So, we went through the Centerville Bridge at noon.

Next bridge is at Great Bridge… The Great Bridge Bridge… not sure how they came up with that name for the bridge… anyway, it is 3.2 miles past the Centerville Bridge and opens only at the top of the hour… 1300… an hour to make 3.2 miles... you go really slow for the next 3 miles… actually, today there was another tug and barge that left the yard just past the Centerville Bridge and was head north ahead of us. So, we moved a little faster to try and catch the barge and go through when it passed through the Great Bridge Bridge. Got to just alongside Atlantic Yacht Basin… maybe a 1000 yards to go… Bridge was open… we were going to make it… then the bridge hailed and said he could not hold the bridge for us and was going down and for us to stop… HUH? It took some quick maneuvering to get us stopped before the bridge… we turned and went to the free docks across from the Atlantic Yacht Basin and tied up… still had 30 minutes till the 1400 opening.

As we were waiting we were joined by a small boat that had some fellow MTOA members aboard… John and Paige Hill… they tied to the docks and waited with us… it was nice to see and get to talk to them for a few minutes.

1400 came and we passed through the bridge and were ready to proceed to the Great Bridge Lock… hailing the lock on the VHF we discovered that they were still working with north bound traffic from earlier and it would be 15 minutes before we could lock through… so we quickly moved to our port and tied to bulkhead between the bridge and the lock to wait for the lock to be ready for us. About 20 minutes the lock hailed al the north bound traffic to proceed to the lock… we moved away from the bulkhead and into the lock… time was getting really tight now… the next bridge… The Steel Bridge is not that far north of the lock but it only opens on the hour… that would be at 1500 and it was already 1425 and we are in the lock waiting for all the north bound boats to get secured.

Finally at 1442 hours we heading out of the lock… we had 2.5 miles to go and 18 minutes to get there… about 7.5 knots to make it… it would be close… then sure enough we hear another tug hailing the Steel Bridge and he was not in sight ahead of us… I hailed the bridge and told her that we were about 8 minutes out and would be able to make the opening that she was giving the tug… she told us she could not hold the bridge… but we kicked the throttles wide open and were soon moving 9 knots towards the bridge… as I rounded the bend I could see the bridge still open and the tug passing through… fingers crossed we kept moving as fast as we could in hopes of making the bridge… then the bridge tender hailed us… keep her coming captain… Whew! We would make it and we did… the bridge tender even held it open for two boats that were behind us… very nice!

Next bridge we would be able to make it last opening for the afternoon without any trouble… The Gilmerton Bridge… however, we had that tug boat still ahead of us and moving faster than we could… the last opening was at 1530 hours and then the bridge did not open again until 1830 hours… 3 hours… ouch! We did not want to miss this one… I kept the speed up at around 7.7 knots and we had our fingers crossed we would make it in time. The tug hailed the bridge and asked for an unscheduled opening… the bridge tender came back with… sorry, I don’t see where you called in an opening reservation… guess the commercial traffic has to arrange their openings ahead of time… and this bridge did not have one for this tug… she told him she would open at her 1530 opening for him… luck was with us for this for sure… we arrived 2-3 minutes early and waited with the tug for the 1530 opening. 1530 came and we passed through the Gilmerton bridge and continued north… we had about 45 minutes to arrive at our destination for the evening… Portsmouth City Docks.

We arrived to the small basin that the city docks are in and found it fairly full… only one spot was left and just enough room for us. At approximately 1615 hours we were secure in the basin. There were 7 other boats with us… full house! Our approximate location for the evening is N36°50.126’, W076°17.771’.

I estimate we had 1-1/2 to 2 hours in delays today… all caused by commercial traffic screwing up the bridge opening schedules… with all the delays included we traveled for 8 hours and 15 minutes covering 42.02 nautical miles averaging 5.09 knots.
Posted at 5:34 PM
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Belhaven,NC to Coinjock,NC
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 20
Up bright and early today as we had a long day planned… destination for the night Coinjock Marina... a little over 65 nautical miles… 10 hours at 6.5 knots. Susan walked beech and prepped the boat to leave… we departed at 0700 hours. Several of the boats we had enjoyed happy hour with had already left and there were a few still at the docks… so we weren’t the first to leave but also not the last.

Today there were lots of boats heading north… when we entered the A & P Canal I could see 6 boats ahead of in the canal… after the A & P Canal we entered the Alligator River and the ICW was filled with boats ahead of us… maybe 10… mixture of sail and power… it was nice to see so many people on the water moving north… of course there was a handful that passed heading south also.

At the north end of the Alligator River is the Alligator Swing Bridge… it opens on demand… however today the bridge tender seemed to open when he decided he had enough boats waiting to go through the bridge… the or so boats ahead of were spread out over maybe a 5 mile range and they were all arriving at the bridge 10-15 minutes apart… the bridge tender told the first boat that arrived it would 10 minutes and he would open… 30 minutes later he still had not opened… finally after 6 boats were at the bridge waiting he opened… that left 4 boats and myself still needing to go through… I was 30 minutes out and the other 4 boats were at or almost at the bridge… again he told the first boat to arrive 10 minutes he would open… well I arrived and the bridge had just opened and I was the last to go through… did not even have to slow down… guess watch runs really slow… 10 minutes is 30 minutes to him…

After the bridge several of boats opted to not cross the Albemarle Sound and stop at Alligator River Marina… Ms. Wanda… we have stopped there but prefer not to… something about the place… not sure what it is… anyway, we had already planned to go to Coinjock Marina… main reason being we had won a FREE nights stay at the MTOA Southern Rendezvous… free nights with power are always great!

We crossed the Albemarle with 2-3 following seas… autopilot does not like it and really works to keep us on track but it was a pleasant crossing and soon we entered the North River and headed north to Coinjock… had a large motor yacht pass us and two other large motor yachts… one of three boats hailed us on the VHF and gave us a nice slow smooth pass… the other two well you it was not bad but it’s just not courteous boating.

We arrived and docked at Coinjock Marina and were secure at approximately 1750 hours. Our approximate location for the evening is N36°20.908’, W075°56.946’.

Today we traveled for 10 hours and 50 minutes covering 66.56 nautical miles averaging 6.14 knots.
Posted at 6:39 PM
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