To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Southbound Day 7

We went as far as Great Bridge, between lock and bridge. We're tied to the shore at 36° 43.284′N, 076°14.511′W.

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We had some drama, but we sorted it out well enough.

Looking back at the plan, we were supposed to blow through here at 11:00 and then press on, 40 more miles, to Coinjock. We might be able to make 40 miles in six hours, banging along at 7 knots in the canal. But. We might not; we'd wind up trying to dock close to sunset. No thanks.

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Lesson One. A plan that includes Norfolk to Coinjock is crazy to begin with. It doesn't really allow for getting through the lock (and bridge) no sooner than noon.

I'm updating my various notes on this.

Powering from Norfolk to Coinjock is a probably maybe (at best.) Norfolk to Great Bridge and stopping there. The next day, waiting for the 08:00 opening in the morning seems a lot easier. Tomorrow night, we hope to drop the hook at mile 61 in the North River, and avoid dock fees.


  1. The Gilmerton bridge operator told south-bound traffic to stick to the left side of the channel. That didn't make sense. I didn't follow instructions. And had to dodge a tug pushing a barge.

  2. The Great Bridge Lock was seconds from starting to close the door when we leapt in. We probably shouldn't have, but we were right there. A boat behind us rushed in while the doors were actively closing.

  3. We held the bow too close to the fenders built into the wall. The bowsprit wound up hanging on a fender. I was barely able to push it off. Damage seems to be minimal. Lifelines are all taught, stanchions still solid, so nothing seems to have been knocked loose.

We're happy to be tied up and resting quietly. CA went in search of a post-office box to mail a letter. I'm nursing a bruised ego.


Don't assume the traditional right-left rules in narrow, complex places. In this case, the tug was on the "wrong" side for a good reason.

Don't rush. Turning around and waiting for the next locking interval would have been smarter. Unlike the Deep Creek lock on the Dismal Swamp route, the Great Bridge lock opens on demand, several times each day. The bridge is every hour. It's easy to get through, but it may be difficult to get much further. There's a free tie-up before and after the bridge, so there's no reason to push on and wind motoring after dark or trying to find a place to anchor in Currituck Sound.

Midships and stern lines are better than midships and bow. The problem is that it's easier to toss midships and bow lines to line handlers on shore. I need to rig the stern line close to the cockpit so I can toss it to a line handler.


Attribute Value
Depart Norfolk 36°50.6140′N, 076°18.0220′W
Arrive Great Bridge 36°43.284′N, 076°14.511′W
Distance 10.4 nm
Time 2h 41m
Engine 2h 41m