Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gone to Carolina

As I write this we're sitting at anchor in, essentially, the middle of nowhere. We're two miles south of Coinjock, NC, and there isn't a sign of humanity to be had. Well, excepting the 14.2 million crab pots around us. Other than that it's nothing but beautiful marsh and woodlands as far as the eye can see. The picture at right is Saturday's sunrise. The people of Coinjock have been very nice. All four of them. There is even a nice little restaurant that serves a nice little 32 oz. prime rib. I had the half-size portion and it still nearly killed me. We polished off a wonderful weekend with Lizz Sr. and Jeffrey and the Bassets, and tomorrow we move on along south. By Wednesday night we should be in Beaufort, NC.

Hey Big Fella(s)

We left Hampton on Thursday morning and shot across Norfolk Harbor with winds gusting over 25 knots (we hit 8.5 knots through the water with just the genoa up!). Just as we're getting near the Navy base, the fully loaded 950 foot long container ship that was anchored in the middle of the harbor weighs anchor and starts steaming toward the channel. The channel is probably about 350 feet wide, but this guy is 100 feet wide himself. Once these things get going in the open ocean, it can take them up to 2 miles to stop. No matter what measure of size you use (length, displacement, etc.), he's an elephant and we're a flea. Needless to say, I stand up and take notice when one of these suckers is moving around in the vicinity. So on down the channel we head, us on the left side near the Navy base, Mr. 800 lb. gorilla on the right. Umm...what's coming at us? Looks like two tug boats and ANOTHER 800 lb. gorilla! The reason 800 lb. gorrilla number one picked then to start steaming in is because his berth had just been vacated by gorrilla number two. So now we're sharing the 350 foot wide channel with TWO 100 ft wide behemoths. Trust me, the picture doesn't do it justice. We can't leave the channel to the left because that would send us into the heavily patrolled security zone around the Navy base (No, sir, we're not terrorists. I swear. I don't care what you've heard about us and the Statue of Liberty). We certainly can't cut across their bows. We just have to stick to our part of the channel. I liken it to walking along the shoulder of I-95 while tractor-trailers whiz by - you're sure they see you and that they aren't going to hit you, but you're still going to need to change your underwear once you get where you're going.

Through the Canal

After Norfolk, we entered the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). Day one saw us into our first lock near Great Bridge, VA. We shared the lock with a tugboat, and the whole thing was a pretty cool experience. They close the lock gate behind you, you tie up to the side, they fill the lock with water from the high side, and you leave three feet taller than when you came in. We spent the night tied up just on the other side of the locks, and the next day motored on down the "ditch", as they call the ICW. We saw a bald eagle, enormous great blue herons, and lots and lots of rain. We'd been damp and sticky for quite some time at this point, and just after getting the anchor down near Coinjock, the heavens really opened up. It absolutely poured!

As I write this, though, a brisk 20 knot north wind is howling through the rigging, cooling things down and drying them out. We're pretty cozy with our propane heater and oil lamps burning, but tomorrow might be a little chilly. Definitely glad to be continuing on south - hard to believe that less than a month from now we'll be anchored in clear blue water, looking at white sand beaches and palm trees. I am definitely looking forward to that.


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