Saturday, June 27, 2009

The North Carolina/Virginia ICW

Going through the ICW from Beaufort, North Carolina to Norfolk, Virginia, is day tripping; I would not want to be travelling through some of these passages at night. We had no problem finding nice anchorages along the way. We stopped the first night in Pungo Creek, near Belhaven. We were racing a thunderstorm to get in (we lost), but the rest of the night it was calm and protected, and the sunrise was beautiful, as you can see in the picture above. The second day we travelled up the Alligator River and canal (unnerving when there are branches and/or logs in the middle of the channel) and across Albemarle Sound, anchoring in the first inlet. Good holding and pretty, with nice houses and trees all around, but talk about an obstacle course to get in! Having blue- and stone-crabbed for years as part of her job, Anne is partial to crabbing. But the sheer density of traps seems unfair to any crab living nearby. On day three we reached Great Bridge, Virginia, and stayed on the town’s free dock. Since we’re on a budget, free is great! It also was useful because provisioning, banks, a library, and other services were only a few blocks away. The first night we (the crews of Mr Mac, Freedom, and Blue Blaze) went to a nearby Mexican restaurant, El Toro Loco, and had a terrific meal. The next day Anne, Roberta, and Laura hunted down a birding trail to hike on while the guys worked on boat projects, and we all did potluck on Freedom for dinner. Our final day took us through the Great Bridge Lock (see picture)—our first, and pretty uneventful, since the water level only changes a couple of inches—and up to through Norfolk, Virginia.

Boy, what a change from the pastoral scenery we had been passing through! The southern section of the ICW in Norfolk is highly industrialized, loud, and smelly, with many, many large ships about, as seen here. Farther up the industry paled and it became more urban. The cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth look like interesting places to stop, perhaps on our way south.

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