June 26, 2014:
And so, we're mourning the loss of ICW's magenta line.
This one is a little late – for two reasons – the first is because we are always battling the loss of cellular service, and the second is because we were on the lookout for our friends on Sandpiper, who were also nourthbound in the Chesapeake, but were a few hours behind us.
Day 11 – Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, NC to Deltaville, VA, 96 miles, 8 hours
Leaving the serene Dismal Swamp was bittersweet. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous, but when you were actually IN it you were descended upon by a horde of biting flies that looked like miniature jet fighters. We also were getting freaked out by things that went BUMP and THUD in the dark (water) as we hit invisible semi-submerged logs (we dodged many visible ones).
Then we came up the Deep Creek bascule bridge and lock, with Robert the very friendly and informative lock keeper. He provided us a history of the Dismal Swamp (something Amy had been asking about for several days) as the lock closed up and we dropped nine feet to the lower level. He also told us the area had the country’s highest black bear population – 1.5 bears per square mile. Definitely more that Boston. Sadly, we never saw any bears – or even half bears.
Then as a we were about to depart he sent us on our way with a resonating tune from a pair of conch shells – that was new!
NOTE: trip planners – he suggested bringing old t-shirts for locking through to put over your fenders. Ours came out of the swamp lock experience all slimy and were basically impossible to clean.
After the swamp came culture shock as Norfolk, Virginia, just sort of happened. Huge industry and more military than I’d ever seen (I bet there was more than 1.5 battleships per square mile).
We were in a no wake zone – enforced by the military – for miles as Amy snuck pictures at whatever she could. She is pretty confident she’s now on some no-fly list. There were Navy ships under repair, Navy ships preparing for departure, and Navy ships departing – with the heavy security everywhere, and stern warnings over the VHF about violating the security zones (apparently the Navy has invested in some pretty good radios, because they cut through everything).
And to cap it all off – we saw a nuclear submarine cruising out of the Elizabeth River out to the Chesapeake, with just its conning tower and tail fin poking out of the water.
Just as we were watching it go, and as we were leaving the shipping channel to head north, our VHF squawked, “Sequel,Sequel, this is Sandpiper.”
Sandpiper! I had forgotten all about them. They were a mile off our port bow making the same course as us – for Deltaville. We chatted for a bit, then I burned fuel and left them behind. There was a large front building to the northwest and we wanted to get ahead of it if we could.
And we made it – the storm moved inland and never touched us. We tied up at end of the T at B dock at Norview Marina, washed Sequel down, drank champers, went swimming in their pool, had a great dinghy tour of the harbor, and then ordered takeout to be delivered to the marina. Nice! Tasty Italian – best Italian I’ve ever had in the cockpit of Sequel. We also heard from Sandpiper around 8:00. They were coming into a channel just south of where we were staying – and they tried an overland journey to find us, but we heard back from them around 11:00 – they walked for several miles but couldn’t find us (cue the no cell coverage).
That’s it – it’s 10:30 AM Thursday morning and we’re deliberately leaving late because the seas are calming down to the north this afternoon. We’re off to Annapolis!
As always, here is a video of our day.
You can read more of John's writing over on his blog, here.