Started: Alligator River, 35°40.49′N 076°03.50′W, ICW mile 99.
Docked: Coinjock Marina, 36°20.87′N 075°56.96′W, ICW mile 50.
Log: 50 mi. Time: 8½ hr. Engine: 8½ hr.
We started at mile 1095 on the Atlantic ICW on 22 April. We're now 50 miles from the head of the ICW in Norfolk, VA, on 2 May. We could make it tomorrow, but we won't.
If we get to Norfolk on the 4 May, we'll have done 1095 miles in 13 days. And had a ton of fun doing it.
Our first down-and-back trip on the ICW was challenging. We didn't know what we were doing. We didn't know what to expect.
We had made big efforts to prepare ourselves. We'd rebuilt parts of Red Ranger. We'd taken some shakedown trips around the Chesapeake Bay. We had two guidebooks for the ICW. We had the paper charts and several varieties of electronic charts. We had friends, too, who could offer advice.
The Voice of Experience
Preparation is important, but nothing compares with experience.
Today's chug across the Albemarle Sound was just another great day on a boat watching the water slide past at 6 knots. The wind was on the nose; the seas were 3'-4' and water was spraying everywhere as the thundered along under power.
Our first time in the Albemarle, we were worried about how big it was. Worried about finding the famously hard-to-navigate marks at the top of the Aligator river. Worried about the sometimes horrible weather on the Albermarle. We wound up playing with our mizzen stays'l and wondering why the Albemarle gets such bad press. Our second crossing of the Albemarle was equally uneventful. Our third crossing was a kind of reminiscence of the first one.
Maybe the legendary roughness of the Albemarle is just one of those legacy stories in the cruising guides that dates from the olden days when the guides were mimeographed notes. Another legacy story is that the magenta line in the chart doesn't match the marks at entrance to the Alligator river. On our charts the line ends at and picks up again: it's not "wrong": it's not there. Maybe on some older edition of the chart it was wrong. And the legend remains.
Now that we've anchored in seven different spots along the ICW, we've settled on two anchorages that stand out. They're 50 miles apart, which means we can cover the distance in just over 8 hours at 6 knots. These amount to a pleasant day's motoring.
Or, in the case of our Sporty Day on the Neuse River, an amazing day's sailing backed by Wrath of God rain. With frogs.
We think that taking a night (or two) of transient dockage in Coinjock and Beaufort to bracket is a good idea. Expensive, but a small simplification. It allows topping off fuel, fixing things, and getting a last hot shower.
Our offshore skills have been building, slowly. What we're getting a little better at is spotting the good weather. We've found that avoiding seas over 4' is important.
Now that we've done two passages of 3 days and 2 nights, we're feeling a little better about our offshore skills. These two passages had the kind of oily smoothness that one dreams of, but doesn't expect to enounter in the real world.
Tomorrow will be just 38 miles to Great Bridge, VA. We think we'll stop for the day when we get there, and run some errands ashore.
Sunday we'll do the last 12 miles into Norfolk. The Elizabeth River from the Gilmerton Bridge to Norfolk is the American Industrial Waterfront writ large. Each bend in the river is another jaw-dropping view of big machines, big boats, big warehouses.
|Depart||Started: Alligator River, 35°40.49′N 076°03.50′W|
|Arrive||Docked: Coinjock Marina, 36°20.87′N 075°56.96′W|