We got underway just after a beautiful sunrise over the Lafayette River this morning. We decided on the Virginia Cut route over the Dismal Swamp which is rumored to be closed. It was a busy day as we got ready to navigate the 13 bridges and 1 lock at the start of the ICW. We picked up a convoy of sailboats waiting for the Gilmerton Lift Bridge to open and traveled most of the day with this group.
All told, we had 7 bridge openings to wait on, 3 65’ bridges we squeaked under (so glad our mast is ICW friendly at just north of 61’!!) and 1 lock. The rest of the bridges were open.
The Great Bridge Lock was my first lock experience. Craig has been in many on a previous trip up the NY State Barge Canal so he had briefed me in advance. We were ready with lines on the bow and stern when we entered. The lock opens Southbound on the half hour. If possible, it is best to enter on your starboard side as that side is lined with rubber bumpers. If you are at the end of a long boat line and end up on the port side have your bumpers ready as it is concrete.
Once all the boats are in the lock (we went through with 9 others), and secured to cleats on either side, they fill it with water. It took about 20 minutes and we passed the time chatting with our new convoy companions. After the water is filled, they open the gates southbound and out you all go…Off like a herd of turtles…J.
We cruised up the ICW at approx. 7 knots. It was an overcast day but not too chilly. This portion of the ICW is very narrow and surrounded with reeds and trees on either side. It is really quite beautiful.
We decided to head into a marina for the night so that we could wash the boat (it was caked with salt from the Chesapeake), restock groceries, do laundry and refuel. There are basically two marinas to choose from – Midway and Coinjock. They are directly across from each other. We chose Coinjock based on the review of their restaurant and a recommendation from Craig’s Dad. It was a good choice!
The dockage is $2 per foot, fuel was reasonably priced. They have a marina store that is well stocked with most food staples (unfortunately no produce or fresh fruit), laundry facilities and a good spot for dinner if you’re ready for a night off the boat. They are known for their Prime Rib, Seafood and Homemade Deserts. We tried all of it. Craig had the Prime Rib, I had the broiled seafood platter and we had carrot cake and pumpkin cheesecake for desert (yummy!). They also give you fresh homemade potato chips with homemade ranch dressing instead of bread when you sit down (I’ll take that over bread anyday!!!).
Another beautiful sunset taken at Coinjock Marina.
Tomorrow we will cross the Albermale Sound. Hoping for good conditions as we’ve heard this Sound can be unpredictable and quite rough.
Below is a picture of our granddaughter Maura Grace. She was 1 month old on Sunday. We’ve only been gone a week and can’t get over how much she has already changed.
Lessons Learned and Daily Rundown
- Norfolk, VA to Coinjock, NC
- 45.1 NM traveled
- Anchor up at 8am and tied up at 5:30
- Plan for a long day. The bridge openings and lock take extra time.
- Plan carefully to arrive at Gilmerton Bridge on the ½ hour. This bridge only opens 9:30 – 3:30 M – F, once per hour on the ½ hour. Unfortunately, we got stuck at the train bridge 2 miles before Gilmerton and missed the 9:30 opening so we lost 45 minutes waiting for the next.
- If you time Gilmerton, then travel at approx 7 knots, the rest of the bridges and locks should line up nicely for you.