CT to FL Day 16
Camden, NC to Columbia, NC
Since the 26th was my birthday and not being sure where we would end up on the 26th…. we decided to celebrate my birthday at the marina restaurant. Dockage was only $35 for the night so we had some extra in the budget and heck it was my birthday dinner… LOL They had a large selection on the menu but one item stuck out for me…. The “Dockside Double”…. A double 8oz bacon cheese burger and fries. Susan went for the single Dockside burger… they were delicious and I ate the whole thing… it was huge!
We were up early around 0530 and made preparations to leave by 0645.... Beecha was not feeling well this morning and took some coaxing to get her up and going…. She is actually the one that takes the longest to get everything she has to do completed…. This morning was a “slow” morning for her and we were about 15 minutes late getting away from the dock…. Departing at 0700.
This made it very tight for making a bridge opening at 0730 at the Elizabeth City Bridge. I pushed SAILS hard to make the opening… I hailed the bridge and said I wanted to make the 0730 opening but I was running a couple of minutes late…. Surprisingly he responded with keep it coming that he would open for us…. Awesome! This does not happen often.
The weather was absolutely horrible today…. Rain, winds and fog and it was cold again…. ? We knew the forecast was not great and decided to move today in spite of the gloomy weather. The wind direction out of the NW would produce a following sea crossing the Albemarle Sound and we would waddle our way across but it would not be uncomfortable ride. We had 20-25 knot winds with gusts over 35 knots and they waves did get up to 4-6 as we reached the southern side of the Albemarle Sound but was not really that bad and the winds started to die near noon and waves smoothed out quickly. When we entered the mouth of the Alligator River winds were down to 15 to 20 knots… still had some gusts but much calmer seas.
We had another bridge to deal with a couple miles into the Alligator River… the Alligator River Swing Bridge. It will not open if winds are greater than 35 knots… We were only have 20 knot winds so no problem for opening. Earlier I was a little concerned that we might reach this point and be stopped by the bridge an high winds… but it had calmed down. I hailed the bridge on VHF 13 for an opening…. No response… I hailed several times… No response… I hailed on 16…. No response… hailed on 9…. No response…. I sounded the air horn thinking maybe the VHF was off…. No response… I finally looked up the bridge phone number and called them… I got an answer and told them we needed an opening… was told the winds were too high and he could not open… IO checked my wind gauge and saw 17 knots on the dial… I told the bridge tender it’s only blowing 17 knots…. Your sign says will not open with winds in excess of 35 knots…. Can we please have an opening… he said nope… maybe where you are it’s only blowing 17 knots but my wind gauge says it’s blowing 38 mph… I di dhte math real quick… 17 x 1.15 = roughly 20 mph.. I said ok… it’s blowing 20 mph.. he argued with me and said that at the bridge it was blowing 38 mph and that it must be calmer where I am… I told him I am a 1000 feet from you…. Look out your window. He responded with not going to open till it calmed down and maybe we should go into Alligator River Marina and wait. He would hail us when he could open. I did not even respond I was so pissed off… I turned and headed toward the marina…. About half way there (2 minutes later) he hailed us and said he could open now but we would have to wait until the boat leaving the marina arrived and he was only going to open once so do not get too far away…. I was really getting pissed now…. We turned and went back to the bridge to wait…. The sailboat that exited the marina arrived 5 minutes later and we were both waiting… sailboat was circling and I was trying to hold steady as a I could with the winds… must have been 1o minutes passed and the bridge hailed us and said he was not opening as he had lost power. I asked was it temporary and should we wait… no response… I asked again… no response. Then the sailboat hailed us and said they just talked to bridge tender on the phone and he was not going to open today. We turned and headed toward the marina and called them to let them know we were coming in for the night.
We were securely docked at Alligator Marina at 1230. Our location for the night… N35°54.347', W076°01.732'
. We traveled today for 5.5 hours covering 34.5 nautical miles averaging 6.3 knots.
Posted at 3:33 PM
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
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