SAILS 1990 45 Florida Bay Coaster
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Viewing category: Jay
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Tuesday, 25 November 2014
CT to FL Day 15
Portsmouth, VA to Camden, NC
Today we had several bridges and a lock to deal with and set our alarm early at 0530 to be sure we were ready to depart on time to meet the first bridge opening at the Steel Bridge. It opened up only at the top of the hour and we wanted to be there by 0800. It was only about 45 minutes from us but you never know in this area if you get stuck by another bridge that is normally open. Beecha decided this morning was the morning she wanted to dilly-dally and we did not get away until 0645 which turned out not to be a problem as we did not have any other bridge issues and we arrived to the steel bridge about 0755… 5 minutes to spare. I hailed the bridge to request and opening and they responded with no problem captain… next opening is at 0900… we do not open at 0800…. So we had an hour to wait.... ?

Rather than sit and wait at the bridge we decided to go back about a mile to a dock that we could tie up to and wait… have breakfast… and relax. As we were headed back I realized that we could probably make the 0830 locking at the Dismal Swamp Canal… I double checked on the chartplotter and we were off to the Dismal Swamp.

We arrived to the lock with a few minutes to spare and the lockmaster hailed us as we approached to let us know he was preparing the chamber for us and to standby for a green light to enter the lock. We entered the lock at 0830 on the dot and secured to the wall with the help of the lockmaster Robert. Robert is a very friendly person and really enjoys talking to you. He loves his job and everything about the Dismal Swamp. This made the locking very enjoyable but probably much longer than it really needs to take…. We exited the lock 45 minutes later at 0915 and headed south down the Dismal Swamp Canal. Robert has to drive form the lock to the bridge just south of the lock as he is also the bridge tender and he had the bridge open and waiting for us as we arrived. ?

We continued down the canal and then the rain started. Not heavy rain just enough to make it miserable out. Good thing was there was no wind that you noticed…. Just rain and mist.

We reached the North Carolina Visitor Center just after noon. We had talked about stopping here for the night as we had never done that before but we decided it was too early to stop and continued on toward Elizabeth City.

We had the opposite experience at the South Mills Lock as the south end of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The lockmaster there was the farthest thing from friendly... I think maybe he said 6 words total and he did not even come to assist us in getting the lines free. Not that it was that hard to do but would of been very easy if he had made the effort to walk a 100 feet to help us. It did make the locking take 15 minutes instead of 45... LOL

Our destination for the night.... Elizabeth City is the land of free docks and you have a choice of several to choose from. We have stayed at all of them and they are great stops. Susan wanted power tonight so we did some checking and decided to stop at Lamb’s Marina in Camden, NC just outside of Elizabeth City. We were secure at the dock with power on at 1600. Our location for the night… N36°19.302', W076°10.591'. We traveled today for 9.25 hours covering 43 nautical miles averaging 4.7 knots.
Posted at 5:10 PM
Monday, 24 November 2014
CT to FL Day 14
Smithfield, VA to Portsmouth, VA
We departed from Smithfield at 1015 about an hour before high tide. We did not want to have any trouble with Bob Shoal as we exited. Forecast for today was rain with 20-25 knot winds and 2 foot seas and was very accurate for a change. Destination for the day planned as Top Rack Marina, Portsmouth, VA. We planned to top off the fuel tanks and spend the night.

We called Top Rack to verify their fuel prices and that we would be able to spend the night. Top Rack is a dock and dine marina restaurant and if you eat in the restaurant you can spend the night at the docks free. We found out that the restaurant is closed on Monday and we would not be able to dine. We told them we were going to purchase about a 1,000 gals of fuel and would be still able dock for free…. Answer was NO! and they were very unpleasant about it. Saying if we wanted to get a free night dockage we would have to come on Tuesday… did not matter how much fuel we bought... ?

We made a few calls and found the price to be the same at Ocean Marine in Portsmouth so after the way Top Rack dealt with us on the phone we opted to not go to Top Rack and stopped at Ocean Marine. We topped the tanks off with 916 gallons of diesel… took about an hour and we backtracked maybe a quarter mile to one of our regular stops… High Street Landing in Portsmouth. No power or water but not an issues today as the temperature was about 65 degrees… a nice change from the freezing temps we had been having.

We were secure at the dock at 1530. Our location for the night… N36°50.131', W076°17.768'. We traveled today for 4.25 hours covering 24 nautical miles averaging 5.6 knots.
Posted at 4:08 PM
Saturday, 22 November 2014
CT to FL Day 13
Smithfield, VA
Another layover day in Smithfield. I had a lot of computer/cabinet work to catch up on and spent the day sitting in front of my computer.

We had dinner with Wayne and Judy McPhail and a pleasant evening visiting in their home. We plan to leave tomorrow on Monday at near high tide. Do not want to transit Bob's Shoal and the Pagan River again at low tide.
Posted at 5:26 PM
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