Southport, North Carolina


Ahhh – a nice, leisurely day on the ICW.  We left the marina at 07:50 in order to make the 08:00 opening of the swing bridge right at the entrance channel , which only opens on-the-hour.  Again, I find it so funny that we did business with this place and never once saw anyone who worked there.  This was largely due to the online marina booking service Docwa, but still…

Anyway, we made it through the bridge at 08:00 and headed down the ICW.  I knew from past trips that we were getting into a section that is heavily populated and developed, with long stretches of No Wake zones that will keep us at 8 knots or less.  So we moseyed down the way for an hour or so and stopped at a marina right on the channel in Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington, North Carolina, and took on fuel, then kept going.

It was overcast all day and we didn’t take many pictures, but there was still lots to look at along the way.  One amusing thing for the past couple of days has been the number of recreational fishermen in small boats either drifting or anchored, sometimes right in the channel.  And although we probably saw 250 people fishing today, some casting and some jigging, we didn’t see one person catch a fish.  I know the old saying, “They call it fishing, not catching,” but still – for all that effort you’d think we’d see at least one lucky fisherperson haul one in.  But not today…or yesterday.

As we steamed along we couldn’t help but look at the houses and docks along the way, and one thing that really jumped out at us was all the storm damage.  I knew there had been 2 hurricanes this year that hit this area: Florence and Michael, and I knew there was both storm damage and post-storm flooding damage from Florence, and less of both from Michael, but I guess neither of us was prepared for the extent of the damage.  Frankly, most houses and most docks were OK, but many either showed some damage or were destroyed.  Most of the house damage was to roofs and decks: there were many, many blue poly tarps covering roofs, and many decks that were either missing, hanging off the house, or askew to one extent or another.  And the docks: some were missing whole sections, many were more or less in tact but the floating docks and boat lifts at the ends of the docks were again, askew or missing.  There were sections of docks and houses in the marshes, and boats, too, way up in the marshes.  Some homes and docks appeared to have been repaired already – the wood looked new – but most were waiting…for what, I’m not sure – either the insurance to settle or maybe they didn’t have insurance and were trying to put the money together to effect repairs.  Either way, it was really impressive how much damage these 2 storms did to this area.

When we left this morning we weren’t sure how far we’d get, because the weather forecast was squirrelly once again, but after most of the day in the narrow waterway behind the barrier beach, like yesterday, we were suddenly in the Cape Fear River south of Wilmington, and Southport was just a few miles on so we decided to stop there.  There are several good choices of marinas in Southport, but we chose Southport Marina partly because it’s right on the ICW so we could get a quick start in the morning.   The marina is very nice and modern, good bathrooms, showers and laundry, and good, solid floating docks.  We stopped at the fuel dock for a pumpout, then backed into our slip.  Once again, even at this modern marina, the Wifi was very iffy, but otherwise the marina and its amenities were great.

The other reason we picked it is because there’s a meteorologist named Hank who lives on a sailboat with his wife and has been on the ICW for many years, and he gives a free ICW briefing every night at Southport Marina.  I’ve been reading about Hank and his briefings for a couple of years, so we decided to give him a listen.  And I was glad we did!  First he showed a weather map of the whole country and described what he thought the local weather would be like for the next few days, which was good.  But the big deal was that he spent over an hour going over the trouble spots we would encounter along the way between Southport and Savannah – and there are several.  Places with names like Lockwoods Folly, and the Rockpile, not to mention Little River Inlet and various other river intersections – places I’d read about in the guide books, but he showed detailed, colored Army Corps of Engineers surveys of each trouble spot overlayed with recent observations from “reliable” boaters who had gone down the Waterway in the past few days or weeks.  We left with a 30+ page handout that Carol separated and inserted the pages into the guidebook, to use to help me navigate through the difficult spots – some of which are pretty notorious.

Carol and I look forward to walks every day after sitting on the boat all day, and we were really glad today because Southport turned out to be the nicest place we’ve been so far (sorry, Beauport!).  A really beautiful waterside town with a long (for the US) maritime history with wide, wooded residential streets and a lively, vibrant downtown.  We went through a few shops then had a cocktail at a waterside bar and were treated to the best sunset I’ve seen in a long time.  We’ve seen several good sunsets on this trip so far, but this one was fantastic.  Several people stopped by the dock at this bar just to take pictures of the sunset, and it was worth it.

Then it was back to the boat for dinner, some reading and an early night.  I know that tomorrow will be another long one with slow going due to No Wake zones and we want to get as many miles in as possible, so an early start will be the ticket.  I’m already getting a little bummed at the realization that this trip will end in just a couple of weeks, but I’m trying to not think about it too much, and to live in the moment.  Because I really am having a great time.  Life is good!

Today: 41.8 nautical miles

Running total: 893.9 nautical miles


Surf City, North Carolina


When we got up this morning we weren’t sure we were leaving Beaufort or not, because the weather forecast last night said thunderstorms were likely this morning and we didn’t want to head down what looked like a narrow section of the ICW in thunderstorms.  But by this morning the forecast didn’t mention thunderstorms at all, so we left – later than usual (10:30) but we left.  Looking at the chart and the mileages along the ICW, and the fact that much of the ICW is a No Wake zone with reduced speed limits, I figured we could make Surf City, some 50 miles down the road, which is how it turned out.

But leaving the port of Beaufort/Morehead City was once again a busy affair, as we shared the channel with the same variety of tugs with barges, ship assist tugs, Coast Guard boats, fishermen and recreational boats.  There are a couple of forks in the road that you have to negotiate correctly to end up on the ICW south, but we managed to do it without getting lost, which was a good way to start the day.  We even saw several dolphins in the harbor, including what appeared to be a mother with 2 young ones.  Somehow they were a nice sendoff from Beaufort.

Most of the day today the ICW was a series of long, totally straight sections, mostly market with fixed day marks with only a few buoys.  The scenery, per se, isn’t all that interesting or what you’d call beautiful.  On one side it was mostly the backside view of the very long barrier beach that defines most of the coastlines of North and South Carolina, and it was mostly a mile or so away with shallow bays between us and them.  There were long stretches with no development, then long stretches of shoulder-to-shoulder houses right on the beach.  On the other side – our right – similarly there were stretches of marsh or woods undeveloped, but in between were some very large, magnificent houses, many with long docks that crossed the marshy shoreline and went out sometimes as much as 100 yards into the water, usually with a boat lift or 2 on the end.  What surprised me was how many houses were built pretty much right at water level – maybe a couple of feet higher.  Pretty much all new houses in this section of the coast are required to be built on stilts, or on 6 foot high or more foundations – unless they’re built on a hill of some prescribed height – because of the risk of flooding from storms.  But for whatever reason many or most of the older houses are right down there, and they surely must flood during hurricanes, and now just from rising sea levels.  The homes are beautiful but vulnerable.

We were lucky today to only have to negotiate one draw bridge and one swing bridge, other than that we only saw fixed bridges.  The ICW is operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which requires all fixed bridges to be at least 65 feet high at Mean Low Water.  Our boat’s air draft (height to the top of our radio antenna) is only 19 feet, so fixed bridges are no problem for us.  Even some of the opening bridges have 20 feet or more vertical clearance when closed, but anyway bridges weren’t much of an issue today.  One of Carol’s jobs is to keep track of what bridges are coming up, because most only open on a published schedule, like on the hour and/or half hour.  So if you go through a bridge and the next one is 12 miles away and only opens on the hour, you may or may not have to hurry to get there by the next opening.  On the other hand, there’s no point in hurrying if you get there and it isn’t going to open for another 45 minutes.  You get the hang of it pretty quickly, but it is something you have to pay attention to or you end up milling around in front of a bridge, trying not to go aground or hit any of the other boats that are waiting.  It’s interesting…

We made OK time along the way today, but with our late start and some long “No Wake” zones that require us to go 6 or 7 knots, we eventually chose to stop at the small Topsail Island Marina in Surf City for the night, which Carol had found online.  The floating docks and other physical facilities were fine, but it was Sunday evening and the owner chose to guide us in by phone because he was at home fixing his house from the recent hurricane.  We never did see Captain James or anyone else who worked there, and we never did find the bath house or trash bins – a couple of other transients and I helped one another out with docking and finding a few things, but it was rather comical that we were essentially running the place ourselves.

We walked about 150 yards to the ocean, over a sand dune and past some heavily damaged buildings, but it was kind of cool and windy so we visited the local grocery store for some more provisioning, then back to the boat for dinner and a quite evening alone.

Today: 51.6 nautical miles

Running total: 852.1 nautical miles


Beaufort, North Carolina


Today was pretty uneventful as we went from Belhaven to Beaufort.  For most of the day we were in rivers and small bays: down the Pungo River, across the Pamlico River, through Goose Creek, across and down the Neuse River, down Adams Creek and Core Creek and into Beaufort.

I’ve been up and down the East Coast maybe 8 times, and for one reason or another I’ve been in Beaufort every time except one.  And I really like the place.  Unlike the last couple of towns we’ve visited in North Carolina, Beaufort is a for-real, active and successful place.  There are lots of marinas and other boating facilities there, there are fancy and not so fancy bars and restaurants along the waterfront, there’s a maritime museum that I’ve yet to visit but definitely plan to next time I’m through…there’s just a lot happening there.

Along the way, for the most part we were in calm, easy to navigate waters, with the exception of the 4 miles to cross the Pamlico River, where we had beam seas and winds around 20 knots, and where we took tons of spray over the bow.  Not that that was anything new, but it would be nice to not have to hose down the boat every day when we reach our destination.  On the other hand that was only for about a half hour, and other than that it was a pretty calm, peaceful day.

It was interesting to arrive in Morehead City, sister-city to Beaufort.  After an easy day with very little traffic to deal with, Morehead City is quite industrial and all of a sudden we had to deal with tugs with a variety of types of barges, commercial fishermen coming and going, recreational boats and tons of recreational fishermen – several anchored in the channel.  It was kind of culture shock after the Dismal Swamp, the Alligator River and today, to all of a sudden have to negotiate all these other vessels.  But it was also exciting to see such a lot of activity on the water.

So we pulled into Homer Smith Marina at 15:25, hosed down the boat (again!), then walked 3 blocks to the beautiful Beaufort waterfront, where we had cocktails and dinner as we watched the sun set over the town docks.  It’s so nice to enjoy the end of the day in a new place – it’s a lot of what I like about boating in general, and going up and down the ICW in particular.  A very satisfying way to end a nice day.

Today: 63.9 nautical miles

Running total: 800.5 nautical miles

Belhaven, North Carolina


Once again we left our slip at first light, 07:00, for navigational reasons and because it’s such a lovely, peaceful time of day to be out on the water.  There wasn’t a ripple on the Pasquotank River as we motored away from Elizabeth City.

The Pasquotank flows into Albemarle Sound, which is somewhat notorious in the ICW literature for being very rough and choppy due to its shallow depths of generally 18 feet or less.  Evidently when the wind is 15 knots or more against you, whichever direction you’re going, the Sound can get quite nasty.  So since mornings tend to be much calmer wind-wise than later in the day, we wanted to get a jump on things – which worked out for us, because Albemarle Sound was no problem at all: a light chop, but harmless.

The 2 branches of the ICW come back together at the south side of Albemarle Sound where the ICW enters the Alligator River.  This is where the ICW starts to take on its popular character of a relatively shallow and narrow series of bodies of water: rivers, tidal estuaries, manmade canals, and an occasional Sound. Even the navigational aids are distinctively ICW in that there are small emblems placed on the many day marks along the way, particularly at inlets and other intersections, to keep one on the ICW and not heading off to somewhere else: triangles on the marks that are to be kept to starboard, and squares on the marks that are to be kept to port.  Beginning when you enter the Alligator River, for the next thousand miles or so you really have to pay close attention to your navigation or you run the serious risk of running aground, not to mention getting lost.  Carol and I have worked out a pretty good system where I drive the boat, concentrate on the chart plotter and try to stay in the proper channel, while she monitors the guide books and descriptions of what to look for next (actually, our friends Peter and Sue suggested this system, which has worked well for them).  Plus Carol simply has better eyesight than I so she scouts out the next mark, which can be quite far away across a particular body of water.  It’s fun, but you really have to stay on your navigational toes.  More than once I’ve had to pull back the throttle and almost stop while we sorted out what to do next, because it often isn’t clear.  I honestly don’t know how people do this single-handed, but they do.

So over the course of the day we meandered the length of the Alligator River, then the 19 mile long Alligator River – Pungo River Canal, then along the Pungo River to Belhaven. The Canal, in particular, was interesting in that it runs straight as an arrow through a large marsh system that is a wildlife refuge, although it’s heavily wooded right along the waterway for most of its length.  The guide book says to watch for deer or bears swimming across the Canal, but we didn’t see any.  For much of the length of the Canal you have to keep your wake down so as not to erode the shoreline, but that’s OK because you see a lot more when you’re going slow than when racing past.

We stayed at Belhaven Marina, a small, family owned place a block off the main street of Belhaven, and today was the first time I’ve been able to wear short sleeves!  The marina is small but well run, with amenities like free laundry and complementary towels in the showers.  It’s not modern, but Greg the dockmaster and general manager has his operation under control and is very much attentive to customer service.  I liked it.

I’ve often heard and read how cute Belhaven is, but I’m afraid we found it quite run down and struggling.  About every other store front is vacant, the streets and sidewalks are in rough shape, etc.  But the people are really friendly, there are a couple of decent restaurants, and while we may not have found it overly cute or quaint, the word I kept thinking of is quirky.  We took a walk along the waterfront out of the downtown, and we found a lovely section of large, well-kept homes.  So it’s not entirely poor, but for whatever reason the town is struggling economically.  I liked it well enough – quirky works for me – and I’ll probably stop there again on our way back north in the spring.  It’s fun – and part of the ICW – to experience the different sections of the country that most of us never see because they’re well off the beaten path that we take when driving here and there, when we’re so often in a hurry.

It’s a good thing we didn’t dislike Belhaven, because we had our 9th weather delay as we had to hold over a 2nd day to wait for a front of thunderstorms to pass through.  I woke up at 02:30 yesterday to the sound of howling wind, pounding rain and thunder, which made me glad to be tucked safely into this nice little marina.

Today: 78.4 nautical miles

Running total: 736.6 nautical miles

E. City sunrise

Belhaven Marina 1

Elizabeth City, North Carolina


Today was our first whole day in the ICW, and it was fun and interesting.  Shortly after leaving Portsmouth, up the Elizabeth River at ICW mile 7.3, you have 2 choices for the beginning of your route south: the Virginia/Chesapeake Cut, or the Dismal Swamp Canal.  We chose the Dismal Swamp because I recently came up the Virginia Cut when helping friend Peter deliver his boat home to Cape Cod from Cocoa Beach, Florida last year and I wanted to do something different.  It was a beautiful, calm morning and we had a nice, leisurely run to the Deep Creek lock at the beginning of the canal.  We got there at 08:00, 30 minutes before the first lock rise of the day, so we milled around in the basin waiting with the 2 boats that had gotten there before us.

The lock master Robert is something of a character and is somewhat famous among the ICW crowd, and he’s mentioned in most of the books about the ICW.  It’s kind of comical how “country” the whole operations is, because Robert guides each boat in and makes sure they understand the procedures, then he closes the lock doors and eventually operates the pump that floods the lock and raises the water level up 8 feet.  Then, after he opens the lock doors at the canal side and makes sure every boat is ready to leave the lock, he gets into his pickup truck and drives ¼ mile to the Deep Creek draw bridge and changes hats to become the bridge operator.  While the lock was flooding Robert visited each boat and shared “pearls of wisdom” including Rober’s Rules 1 thru 4, about navigating the Dismal Swamp Canal (and the Great Loop), which has a strict speed limit of 5 knots which, in any event, is enforced by the fact that there’s another lock at the other end of the canal 20 miles away, and the lock there doesn’t open for 4 hours after the Deep Creek Bridge opens.  Anyway, the locks and draw bridges at both ends of the Canal were an experience all their own.

The Dismal Swamp Canal is long, straight and, at times, kind of boring.  But it’s also beautiful and an experience all its own.  We were 3rd in line going through, behind two 37 foot sailboats with a 42 foot power boat behind us.  We all spoke on the VHF radio several times, keeping one another in touch when someone slowed down for one reason or another or, as happened a couple of times, when we “thumped” a log or something along the way.  The controlling depth of the canal, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the canal, is 6 feet.  Most of it is more than that, but there are occasional shallow spots and it’s only 50 feet wide with forest along both sides for most of the way, so occasionally trees fall into the canal and can sink.  Thus the occasional “thump”.  Everyone knows about the hazards from reading the ICW books, but it was definitely disconcerting every time (it was only twice for us) we thumped.  None of us had any damage so I suppose it was no big deal, but it’s still an interesting experience that one normally tries to avoid.

After locking down 8 feet at the other end of the canal and passing through the South Mills draw bridge, it was another 18 miles along the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City.  We were able to speed up to 12 knots or so for most of that passage, which was winding and really pretty.  There was a lot of duck weed in the water, which form beds of small individual plants that blanket the surface of the water.  They can cause problems for boats if too many of them get sucked up into the engine cooling water system and cause blockage, but we didn’t have a problem with it.  There were very few houses or other development along this stretch of the way, so it was a nice run along the river that was probably no more than 50 yards wide and wooded along both sides.  It’s nice country for passing through by boat.

In Elizabeth City we took a free slip at the public docks along the river.  There are about 20 slips there with very short finger piers, right in the downtown, with free WiFi, bathrooms and showers.  Not that Elizabeth City is a big metropolis or anything, because it’s not.  In fact, we and some people we met on another boat were disappointed in Elizabeth City.  We’d read nice things about it, how it was a cute town with nice restaurants and shops, etc., but we found it to be run down and with not much going on.  Carol and I walked around the downtown a bit but we found that a block off the main street it quickly became rather seedy and not so nice.  We did have a decent dinner at a waterfront restaurant.  But when we got back to the boat there was a guy on the dock with a sad story about having just gotten out of prison, he had no money, and could we buy him dinner if he washed our windshield.  It was dark, he was a big guy, and the windshield thing wasn’t going to happen, so we turned him down and kind of quickly ducked into the boat and locked the door.  I don’t think I’m paranoid about panhandlers, but this guy was kind of intimidating, it was dark, there’s absolutely no fencing or other security around the free docks, and it was an unpleasant experience.  On the other hand, he evidently just went away so it was no big deal – just kind of weird at the time.

The river was calm and the rest of the night was peaceful and restful.  I guess I’d stop there again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go to Elizabeth City, that’s for sure.

Today: 43.8 nautical miles

Running total: 658.2 nautical miles

Portsmouth, Virginia


We left Deltaville at 07:00 into a beautiful, flat calm Chesapeake Bay, and incredibly it stayed that way all day.  We left with a couple of other boats, all headed south, clearly all in the annual migration to Florida, like us, and the Bahamas.  It was absolutely gorgeous: a clear sky, light winds and they were from the northwest, which was behind us, and it was just fine. We all came out of the harbor, made a right at the entrance buoy, then made another right at the sea buoy off the point, and headed south.

We steamed along like that for a couple of hours and once when I looked behind us we were in a virtual armada of 10 sailboats and 6 power boats within a couple of miles of us, all heading to Hampton Roads and the ICW.  So many boats have been weather-bound up and down the Bay – some for several days – that everyone was taking advantage of today’s perfect conditions to get moving again.  It was a fabulous sight.

By 10:30 we could start to see the skyline of Norfolk, Virginia on the horizon, and I was able to feel confident that today we would finally reach the ICW.  I’ve been planning to do this for so long and we’ve obviously had a frustrating couple of weeks trying to get here.  But that’s OK, because the important thing is that we’re here now.  Weather is part of boating, and anyway, who cares about the past couple of weeks – I was excited about the next few weeks.

As Norfolk loomed larger and larger on the horizon we were able to make out the signature element of Norfolk: NOS Norfolk, the largest navy base in the world.  I don’t know who measure those things, but that’s what the US Navy has always said.  Of course, this country is home to the “World Series” of baseball, in which no other country is invited to participate (sorry, Toronto).  Anyway, there were destroyers underway in the Hampton Roads channel, and as soon as we got close to the Elizabeth River, which is essentially Norfolk harbor, we steamed along the Navy base for about a half-hour and saw 3 US and 1 UK aircraft carrier, and I bet as many as 30 other Navy ships including destroyers, cruisers and all manner of support ships.

In addition to the Navy, the port of Hampton Roads is almost staggering in its scope.  You pass maybe a dozen large container terminals, oil terminals, chemical terminals, LPG and LNG terminals, shipyards…there’s so much shipping that you almost can’t believe it.  I’ve been to Singapore several times, where you might see 5 or 6 dozen ships (or more?) at a time in the anchorage awaiting a berth, but in Hampton Roads there were maybe a dozen ships anchored north of the port but the rest are either berthed or coming and going.  It’s a really busy place that goes on for several miles and it was almost comical how Carol and I were trying to sightsee everything afloat and ashore, and navigate the boat at the same time.  It’s a pretty cool place if you’re into things maritime, as I am.

And then, there it was on the starboard beam: red buoy #36 off Hospital Point in Portsmouth, which is the official start of the ICW.  We’d made it!  I was excited like a little boy and I slowed the boat as we passed and asked Carol to take pictures of the buoy, officially designated in the ICW world as Mile Zero.  The next few weeks are going to be fun, but at that moment everything was fine in my world because all of our efforts for the past 17 days had paid off, and we were in the ICW.  Ahhh, life is good!

Eventually we arrived at Tidewater Yachting Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, our home for the night, where we took on fuel then moored in our slip.  Tidewater is right across the river from the city Norfolk and there’s a ferry that plies back & forth every 30 minutes.  We lived near Norfolk in the early 80’s shortly after we were married, when I was stationed there in the Coast Guard, and we both worked in downtown Norfolk for those 4 years.  So once we got the boat put to bed for the day we took the ferry across to Norfolk, and it was fun to walk around the downtown and try to remember where this and that were, compared to what it looks like now, some 34 years later.  A lot of what we remembered was gone and replaced with bigger, quite different buildings.  They’ve actually done a nice job and it was a pleasant hour of reminiscing.

Then it was back to Portsmouth and the boat, we got to know a couple of our marina neighbors (always fun!), and we had dinner at the restaurant in the marina, Fish & Slips (it was Taco Tuesday!), then back to the boat for the night.  I apologize for being absent from the blogosphere for the past couple of days, but in both Deltaville and Portsmouth I couldn’t get my post and/or photos to load.  There will be some days coming up when we’re anchored in the boondocks somewhere with no WiFi, so if you don’t’ see a post for a couple of days don’t think we’re blowing it off.  I’ll do the best I can, although I’m sure everyone will understand that while it’s fun to document our trip through a blog, and to keep friends and loved ones up to date on where we are, it’s hardly our #1 priority.

Today: 50.2

Running total: 614.4

Deltaville, Virginia


What?  Deltaville?  I thought we were going to Hampton today!?!  Well, we were but the weather guessers got it wrong again.  It was forecast to be NW 15-20, which would be windy enough but behind us, but once again, like in Long Island Sound, it was westerly at 25+ and gusting higher, which put the wind and waves right on the beam.  When we left Solomons this morning it was flat calm (the sunrise pictures below are at Solomons) and beautiful.  Sure, it was forecast to build later, but it built EARLIER instead and from the wrong direction, and it just knocked us all around.  The good news is that it was sunny, so at least we weren’t cold, which was a welcome change and a relief.

Our route today took us down the west side of Chesapeake Bay, and when we started I mapped out a route as close to land as I could to give us the elusive lee.  But when we crossed the mouth of the Potomac River, which is several miles wide at the mouth, the west wind effectively had a 20 mile fetch from upriver, and that’s when it got really rough.  Sitting in the Captain’s chair I had arm rests and hand-holds on the bridge enclosure frame to steady myself, but poor Carol was being tossed around on the bench seat next to me, with nothing good to hold onto.  She tried sitting fore & aft, then sitting athwart ships, then lying down fore & aft, but nothing was comfortable or stopped her from the effects of the pretty severe rolling.  It wasn’t unsafe for the boat in any way, but it was uncomfortable as hell and was becoming unsafe for us because of the risk of being tossed into something, plus we were getting tired just from holding on all the time.

About this time (noon-ish) I looked around and realized that we were the only boat in sight!  We left Solomons in company with a half dozen sailboats, but here we were 4 hours later all alone on the deep blue say (OK, bay).  Where did everybody go?  This was especially concerning since sailboats would have a much easier time of it on a day like this: for one thing they would be flying down the bay making great speed, and the sail would prevent the worst of the rolling.  If they thought it was too much, what the hell were we doing out there?  So at that point we decided we had to bail out, and a glance at the chart showed that Deltaville was just 4 miles away…directly upwind, which was a much more comfortable angle into the seas.  Hampton would have been another 35 miles or so, or 3+ hours on the beam, and we just didn’t have it in us.  This trip is supposed to be fun, and this wasn’t fun.

Deltaville turns out to be yet another lovely seaside (OK, bayside) town that is very boating oriented: a whole bunch of marinas, sailmakers, boat canvas/cushion shops, etc.  We stayed at Dozier’s Regatta Point Yachting Center, which is a great, well appointed marina with solid concrete floating docks, nice modern bathrooms and showers, laundry facilities plus a loaner car, which we used to hit the local market.  After we got there, in early afternoon, the wind continued to build but we were snug as a bug in a rug in our slip, with Loopers on either side of us: a Nordic Tugs 37 and a 40 ft. Grand Banks (Loopers are people who have done the Great Loop in their boat.  Google it if you’re interested).

Dozier’s is the first marina when you get into the harbor from the entrance channel, so we were able to blast out of there in the morning and get back on our way.  We hope to get to Norfolk, Virginia tomorrow, which is the official beginning (mile 0) of the ICW, then to lock into the Great Dismal Swamp Canal on Wednesday.  I am SO ready to be in the ICW, which is all inland – no more huge winds on the beam, no more big seas…I can’t wait.

Today: 56.1 miles

Running total: 564.2 miles