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Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Great Bridge, VA to Smithfield, VA
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 21
Not having far to go today we departed from Great Bridge at 1000 hours... we had to go through the Great Bridge Bridge and then immediately through the Great Bridge Lock.

We entered the lock at 1009 with two other boats... a sport fish and another trawler... wind was off our port beam so we opted to go to the right side of the lock as the wind would push us into the wall of the lock making it easy to secure ourselves to the wall. There was a south bound trawler approaching the lock from the north as we were being raised up slightly in the lock... as the north gates started opening the southbound trawler headed right for the lock gates and was ready to enter... the lock tender hailed them and said that they would have to back off and allow the boats in the lock to exit before they could enter the lock... apparently he did not understand and held his boat in position just off the lock gates... the lock tender stopped the gates from opening and went outside to yell at this boat to back off... finally they got the idea and moved away... :)

After the delay due ot the southbound trawler we finally exited the lock at 1021 and the next obstruction was a bridge... Steel Bridge... only opens on the hour so we had plenty of time to make it and proceeded just over idle speed towards it... arriving in time for it's 1100 opening.

Next to come was the Gilmerton Bridge that according to all of our resources opened on demand... but monitoring the VHF we heard them announcing opening only on the hour and half hour... still no problem as we would be there by it's 1130 opening. Upon arriving at the bridge I hailed on the VHF and was informed that they would not be opening at 1130 due to the Coast Guard shutting down the waterway north of the bridge and that they would open as soon as the Coast Guard gave them the OK... appeared that they were moving a barge and crane off the docks just north of the bridge and would be blocking the waterway... thus the shut down... we did not have to wait long and at about 1125 the bridge hailed us on the VHF and said she received teh OK from the Coast Guard and would be opening momentarily... at this point there were four boats waiting to for the bridge. At 1200 we cleared the Gilmerton Bridge and continued north on the ICW.

Our planned stop was Smithfield, VA on the Pagan River... not having far to go and having the current with us I did not push hard... maintained lower RPM saving fuel and still doing 7 knots... NICE!

As we passed through Norfolk we could hear on the VHF several Navy war ships broadcasting their intentions of leaving the docks... and sure enough just as we passed the Navy yard there were tugs assisting one of the war ships off the dock... we took some great photos of it... We continued on and could see a second war ship ahead of us also leaving the docks... when we were hailed on the VHF by the war ship we had just past... it was now behind us and wanting to know our intentions and letting us know that they would be northbound at 6 knots... I told them we would be leaving the ship channel to port at the next red marker and heading northwest towards Newport News... they acknowledged and signed off... COOL... never been hailed by a Navy war ship before... :)

We soon exited the ship channel and were headed up the James River towards the Pagan River and Smithfield, VA. As we approached Newport News we had a large ship directly on our stern... we were out of the ship channel but the size of these ships is overwhelming when they are close to you... soon three tugs passed us and came along side the ship to aid it up the channel and into docks at Newport News.

It was not long before we heading up the Pagan River towards Smithfield... it was an hour before low tide and the depths of the channel off the James into Pagan are about 7 feet... once in to the Pagan River most of the channel is 12 feet plus except for one stretch that is very shallow... we had to go at idle speed across it.. 6 feet... 5.9... 5.8... 5.7... 5.6... 5.5... depth sounder stops reading the depth and flashed LAST over and over again... we did not hit the bottom but it's always a little scary when this happens... across the 1/2 mile stretch and soon the depth sounder started reading again and soon it was 12 feet deep again... :)

We approached location we would be docking at... the next door neighbor of Wayne and Judy McPhail... normally when in this area we anchor behind Wayne and Judy's home... however, due to a gracious offer from their neighbor to use his dock... always nice to be at a dock.

As we approached we could see Judy waving to us from the dock... she had left work a little early to meet us and help us with our lines... awesome!
At 1630 we were docked and secure for the night at approximate position N36º59.557', W076º37.455'.

We will be staying here for a couple of days to visit with Wayne and Judy... take care of some business and just relax.

Today we traveled for 6 hours and 30 minutes covering 35 nautical miles averaging 5.4 knots.
Posted at 12:25 PM
Monday, 2 May 2011
Columbia, SC to Great Bridge, VA
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 20
We departed from our anchorage in South lake at 0700 and continued north in the ICW... although from South Lake it takes about 35 minutes to get back out to the ICW... the only negative thign about this anchorage.

We had a long day of travel ahead of us and some potential problems with bridges... two bridge that give us problems are the North Landing Bridge and the Centerville Turnpike Bridge... both bridge open on the hour and half hour but Centerville Turnpike Bridge does not open between 1600 and 1800... the problem is the distance between the two bridges... 5 miles which is very hard to make in 30 minutes... so we need to make it to the North Landing Bridge by 1500 in order to make the 1600 opening at the Centerville Turnpike Bridge.... otherwise it sit and wait 2 hours between the bridges.... :(

We did make the North Landing Bridge at 1500 and had two other boats ahead of us... we all kept our speed up and according to the GPS would not make the Centerville Turnpike Bridge till 1536... 6 minutes late for the opening... but luckily as we arrived late the bridge started it's opening... he opened late for us... :)

We had planned to go through the Great Bridge Bridge and tie to the free wall between it and the lock but the wall was full... luckily the free dock before the bridge was totally open and we docked at it.

1600 hours we were secured to the dock located at... N36º43.241', W076º14.296'. Today we traveled for 9 hours covering 65 nautical miles averaging 7.2 knots.
Posted at 7:37 PM
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Leechville, NC to Columbia, SC
Florida to Rhode Island - Day 19
We departed from our anchorage in the Pungo River at 0930 and continued north on the ICW… we would transit the A & P Canal and then the Alligator River and with a final destination of South Lake… located at the mouth of the Alligator River. It’s a new anchorage for us having never been into it before but we heard that there is a boat ramp where we can take Beech to land up a small creek off the anchorage.

The A & P Canal (Alligator River and Pungo River Canal) joins these two rivers… it basically a long narrow canal about 20 nautical miles long… did not see any wildlife this passage but have seen deer and Bald Eagles many times. We had one boat pass us… “Island Expedition” from Boston, MA… commercial tour boat… catamaran hull… and we followed another trawler “Shunda” from Toronto for the entire trip… although, they were a couple of miles ahead of us to begin with but were moving faster than we were and soon they were only visible with binoculars.

We did have one bridge at the end of the day to open… The Alligator River Swing Bridge… they open on demand and caused us no delay at all… the anchorage was just another few miles north and east of the bridge.

We arrived at the anchorage at 1600 hours and discovered the trawler from Toronto we had been following all day had also come to this anchorage. We moved into to behind them and close as possible to the creek that is suppose to have a boat ramp to land Beecha for her walk.

We were securely anchored at 1610 in South Lake at N35°55.078’, W075°54.711’. We travled today for 6 hours and 40 minutes covering 45 nautical miles averaging 6.75 knots.
Posted at 7:06 PM
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