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April 11- 16 Coinjock, NC to Annapolis, MD

April 11 - Waited for the mechanic to come that afternoon, which was easier to do with a non-functioning lock ahead and a recovering dog on board. There was very little notifications about the main northward passage being blocked.

Coast Guard only mentioned it once every few hours and it was said very quickly and hard to catch. Marina gossip had the issue being a power outage do to storm surge. There was no news on a plan to fix it.

A fellow boater that we had not gone out to dinner with during the storm at Oriental chose to go the Dismal Swamp route. The route was not recommended because it is shallow and super narrow. There are often trees down and debris and dead heads (tree trunks pointed upstream like giant hull busting spears). Our other option was to go south 75 miles to Hatteras Inlet and then the very long ocean jump to Virginia Beach. We decided to stay another night and hope they got the lock operational on the next day.

Our fellow boater successfully made it through the locks. They reported that while it was narrow and they saw trees and debris, they had not hit any debris. Since they were a 40+ sailboat we thought that was a good sign. The marina manager called me to make sure we were not considering going out the Oregon inlet, which has claimed many a boat and even more propellers. They were dubious about going via Dismal swamp, but when they heard a sailboat had made it successfully, they admitted that we had the draft and beam to make it. A red 40 ft Saber type boat docked a couple boats behind us who had a draft a couple inches more than us also made it incident free. Jason spoke to the lock master that evening, who said they still did not know what the problem was.

April 12 - Coinjock, NC to Norfolk, VA Arose before sun up to try to make the 9 am Elizabeth City bridge having to back track 30 miles. Jason had a hard time seeing the markers into the rising sun and then we had to dodge lots of crab pots in a small chop. Nancy must have mis-estimated the time it would take to reach the bridge, because we left 15 minutes early but were still 10 minutes late for the bridge. Fortunately, they let us through. We realized that to get to the lock for the second opening, we would have to average 8 miles per hour, but we had to slow down several times to navigate or pass other boats. Missing the lock meant spending yet another day waiting and potentially putting us in bad weather going up the Bay, making it a tense and anxious journey. Nancy was trying to work, not being much help to Jason.

We made the lock with 3 minutes to spare. Jason and Nancy fumbled a bit getting tied up to the lock. Note: Next time Jason should have the portable dock master ready before entering the lock. Didn't quite have the fenders right, so the nose kept swinging towards the wall.

After the lock, things narrowed up quite a bit and we passed two john boats with men in neon work vests. Nancy thought they may have been out chain sawing protruding trees now that they were going to be the ICW for the next few days. We were behind a large catamaran, which was wider than us by a few feet, but probably only drew 2 ft. We hadn't gone even a quarter of a mile when we heard a very loud thud of something hitting the hull. Nothing had been spotted in front of us and nothing popped up after us. Due to tannic acid from the surrounding forest, the water was an unusal black color with very limited visibility. Not even 5 minutes later we got a 2nd thud even louder, that one Nancy did see the top of a limb poke up behind us. The third thud was also invisible but was disturbing for its grating noise. However, we were committed now (not thinking that we could successfully pass the large trawler behind us if we turned back). We still had 3 and half hours to go at 5 knots. We had passed a tow boat, so if we did hit something that stopped our props there was rescue within a couple hours. Nancy called Coinjock to tell them not to send anyone through Dismal Swamp.

Nancy could occasionally see large dead head trees four or five feet to the side of the boat. Each thud gave Jason a mini heart attack and brought Nancy to the edge of tears. There were seven thuds in all, but the props kept turning and no high water alarms went off. Steering was crazy hard with a tree sticking out from the left immediately followed by a tree sticking out from the right, so you had to slalom through the downed trees. There were times where we were only three feet away from the top of a downed tree, but of course you didn't know what protruding limbs were under the water. Jason did a masterful job steering, occasionally having to use the thrusters to stay in the channel.

The second lock (which also had an eight foot change in elevation) went smoother. The trawler behind us also reported hitting several large submerged debris. Turns out that Waterside Marina was only 10 miles past the lock and we were able to speed up for a few of the miles. We thought we heard some cavitation and vibration speeding up, but frankly it could also be our imaginations. Thankfully, if we had dinged the props, it wasn't bad enough (yet) to prevent us from going north. We pulled into Waterside around 5 pm. Poor Jason had 10 straight hours at the wheel, nine of which were very stressful and almost all of them standing up. We ate on the deck of Rocky Mountain Grill overlooking our boat and Norfolk harbour.

April 13 - Norfolk, VA to Deltaville, VA In the morning, Jason rinsed the salt off the boat and we headed 50 miles up to Deltaville at Jackson Creek Marina. It was a grey, calm day, but the tide was sucking the crab pots under so only the very tips were showing making them hard to see. Nancy tried to catch up on the work she was too distracted to do during the Dismal Swamp.

Had dinner with Gordon White (my Dad's best friend) and his wife Mary Ann after giving them a tour of the Time & Tide and giving Jason a tour of his midget race car that he broke the world speed record in. The restaurant had excellent southern cooking.

April 15 Deltaville, VA to Patuxent River, MD Next morning the marina had a pancake breakfast in their screened in porch, which was very yummy. A mix of transients, live-aboards, and people getting their boats worked on attended. Very nice marina under new management (although they had a VERY slow fuel pump).

It was a beautiful sunny calm day heading up the Bay today. We anchored in Cuckhold Creek, behind a park with a nice hiking trail for Radar. Jason and Nancy enjoyed a peaceful hour up on the flybridge chaise before storm clouds sent them below. After the rain showers, and a long nap, a beautiful rainbow lit up the sky. What a good omen to end our trip on!

April 16 Patuxent River, MD to Annapolis, MD

It was another beautiful day up the Chesapeake Bay. We were up on the fly bridge coming out of the Patuxent but once we sped up into the Bay and its chilly breeze, we had to go back to main deck helm. Tried to fuel up and pump out at Selby Bay, but they were closed-maybe still to early in the season. It took us a little bit to figure out how to tie her up in her new slip. The stern cross tied interfere with the dinghy, but we are pretty sure we have a solution. We have lots to do before we leave in mid-May for the Great Loop!

The End



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