We headed south out of Hampton to make our path through Norfolk. The area is inundated with Navy ships being worked on. We probably past 5 aircraft carriers in various states of disrepair. Getting through Norfolk requires passing through and under a string of bridges.The bridges have restricted opening times. We managed to show up at two different bridges 2 minutes late, just to have the bridge tender close the bridge on us and make us wait a full hour to get the next opening. Not sure these tenders like the pleasure crafters.
Next up was the Great Bridge Locks. It’s a simple, low stress lock to get through. This is about as far as we got the first day – spent the night at the free long dock just past the Great Bridge.
Next day we motored down past Coinjock and anchored just outside Broad Creek. We anchored outside the creek cause we couldn’t figure a way in with our 6.5ft draft. This is a picture of the sunrise at anchor.
The sunrise picture may look pretty, but check out the ICE on the decks. The water temperature when we left the Chesapeake was 50*F.
After doing some research with the local SeaTow operators (AAA of the Sea), we figured out that we could not make it under the last bridge on the Alligator River. This is the normal pass south on the ICW. Problem is the bridge was designed to have a 65 foot clearance like the other bridges on the Atlantic ICW – turns out it was built to 64 feet. Georgia’s mast is 64ft 3in- measuring to the tip of the last piece of hard stuff up there. I could take off some parts and get us a 1/2 foot or better. The SeaTow captain said he worries a lot with anything over 63ft 6in under that bridge. There’s no real tide in that area, but the water depth changes based on the direction of the winds.
The alternative pass is to go along he east side of Roanoke Island, just inside the Hatteras Outer Banks. This passage has one true 65ft bridge. It also has a dredged channel that is charted as very shallow. I talked to the local SeaTow operator in the area and he said its all fine except between marks 36 and 30. Here he said “there was a chance we could get our 6.5ft draft through, but if we get stuck, call him”. We carefully analyzed our choices and picked one randomly. The Outer Banks won. The trip was fairly uneventful except for the two times we grounded, in the channel. These were both past the ‘dangerous’ area in the ‘deep’ channel, but across from the Oregon Inlet. At least it’s all sand.
When we finally got out of all the narrow channels and into the open waters of Pamlico Sound we started to relax a bit. Of course the two ferries that cross this body of water decided to simultaneously point at us at the same time. I called up the east bound ferry (the lollipop on the right) on channel 13VHF and asked him if he was comfortable with our CPA (Closest Point of Approach). In a friendly southern accent he said “No, keep your course and speed and I’ll take your stern”. So did the other. Then we were back to empty waters. Tonight we are in a fairly open anchorage in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow, off to Oriental, NC.