Great Bridge, VA to Belhaven, NC-Day 4

The day before, since we didn’t get very far I made a bet with Dad.  If it was over 70 we would just go to Coinjock, which put us another full day behind.  If it was under 70 we would cruise to Belhaven, which was about 120 miles away, a little further than we planned for any one day.  As you can tell by the title of this post, it was under 70, supposed to get up to 68.  So we would go to Belhaven.  We did however have one giant body of water to cross, the Albemarle Sound.  The people we talked to the day before said to be careful there, they had crossed in there 70’ boat once and actually had water splashing over the flybridge.  On our little boat that would definitely be too rough.  So when we got to Coinjock we would stop and see how it looks. 

Oh, forgot to mention, at some point the night before I fed the toilet a bunch of used beer and pushed the flush lever and half of it went down and then a it back fired and shot used beer all over me.  That was the end of the toilet.  It doesn’t work anymore.  Dad is peeing in a water jug now, and I, being the Jacksonville redneck that I am, just pee over the side.

We topped off the fuel tank and resupplied our cooler with beer at the gas dock.  When I started the boat to head on our way, the engine buzzer wouldn’t turn off.  Something was wrong.   This made me nervous and reminded me of Explorer Spring Break 09.  The oil pressure was fine, the temperature was fine so we had no idea what it could be.  We were a quart low on engine oil, so we added one.  It made no difference, the buzzer kept sounding.  Dad, against my better judgment added another quart of oil.  No change.  We got out the owners manual, and there was only one other reason the buzzer goes off… Low drive oil.  Sure enough, it was a little  low, so I filled it and it solved the problem.  And we are off.

The ride to Coinjock was very nice.  We had to get under our 2 bridges which took the better part of an hour.  This is the Centerville swing bridge opening.


Once we got past the bridges, it was narrow cuts for a while, then it opened up to a wider river.  There was a slight chop in the river, maybe 1/2 foot but we were following it so it didn’t affect us at all. 


Once we got to Coinjock, we checked the fluids again and topped off the tanks.  The drive oil was a hair low, but I think that’s were I left it last time, or maybe the drive sucked some of it down.  Nevertheless I topped it off right to the full line so I had a point of reference.  The engine oil was of course a quart overfilled which isn’t good, but not much we can do about it now.  Toilet still is broken.  Dad asked the fuel dock people about Albemarle Sound.  The guy said that its usually about 3 times what we just went though, but that the waves were heading south, so once again it would be a following sea which makes for a much smoother ride.  That added up to 1.5 foot chop, nothing to us after the 7 foot seas in the Chesapeake.  So we decided to go for it. 

Here is a small house in Coinjock.


3 times bigger my ass.  There were probably 6 foot seas and the waves were headed south, east and north.  We were getting it from nearly all sides.  And we had about 20 miles of this.  I tried my best to read the waves and keep our speed up so we could get it over with quickly as possible.  Our speed dropped by 10 mph even though the throttle was about the same.  20 mph for 20 miles, we had about an hour of this, but it wasn’t scary like the Potomac was, just uncomfortable. 

After Albemarle Sound we entered the Alligator River which is still pretty wide open but much less sloppy.  The waves were about all the same size as in the sound, but they were uniform and following so it was much nicer.  The river narrows and eventually we get to another canal and we figured once we made it there, it would calm down considerably.  But before we did, the winds really picked up and it got a little violent.  Luckily we weren’t in the Sound at this point, I don’t think we would have made it.  This area was much more sheltered so the waves weren’t bad, but the wind was howling and it was hard to control the boat.  The wind kept pointing the bow wherever it wanted regardless of the direction I turned the wheel.  We didn’t have much of this however because we arrived at the canal, which is protected enough that there was virtually no wind.  We slowed it down and cracked some beers.  Time to relax again.   


The sun was out, we lathered up in sunscreen and relaxed.  This was the nicest part of the trip so far.  From the entrance of the cut, to our destination, Belhaven, it was about 30 miles, most of it in this cut.  We cruised at about 8 mph for about 2 beers, and then kicked it up a notch for a while.  Dead calm and 30 mph it was awesome.

IMG_0648  On the other side of the cut was Pungo River and then shortly after was Belhaven.  Pungo River is pretty wide and pretty deep.  We passed a bunch of sailboats and enjoyed the ride.  It did get a little rougher and a little wet, but at least it was warm.  I even had my one sweatshirt I brought off for the first time.  The air was warm, the water that splashed on me was warm so it was all good. 


We arrived at Belhaven at about 4:50 and relaxed on the boat for a while.  We listened to some tunes and lightened our cooler a bit.  Tied up next to us was a MacGregor sailboat and two older gentlemen on board.  One of them had something wrong with his hip, and one leg was about a foot shorter than the other.  Not to be rude, but it was pretty funny looking.  We also met another gentleman who was on his 58 foot powerboat.  It was basically the same setup as our boat, except much larger.  Oh and it had 3500 horsepower and cruised at 45 mph.  He was heading to St. Thomas, his home.  I asked if we could sleep in his two spare staterooms.  He didn’t really respond.

IMG_7263The sunset was at about 7:30 and was gorgeous.  At about 8pm we decided we should head into town and find some dinner.  We wandered all over the place and everything was closed.  I guess this town closes down at about 8.  After a couple mile walk, we came back to the boat and reheated some spaghetti and talked for another hour or so.  We decided it was good that everything was closed, spaghetti was just what the doctor ordered.  We lightened the cooler a little more and called it a night.  Overall a very good day.

Deltaville VA to Great Bridge VA, Day 3

We woke up in Deltaville feeling pretty good, my back has been bugging me, I think because of constantly ducking to avoid getting a freezing blast of water to the face.  Sleeping in the coffin they call an aft cabin on this boat probably didn’t help at all.  The marina at Deltaville was very pleasant, I think that if we did this trip in the summer it would be packed and very fun.  It was quite however this time of year.  Our goal when we left was to go to a place called Coinjock.  We had some of the biggest waters of our trip on this day to get from Deltaville to Norfolk.  After Norfolk however it was all skinny channels so we figured we would be home free if we could just make it there.  We hugged the western shore as much as possible, but it was difficult because there were a ton of flats and sandbars so really we were pretty far out and it was rough, but nothing like the day before.

At around noon we arrived at Norfolk.  It just so happened that as we were heading down the channel 3 Navy destroyers were headed out to sea.  We looked them up on our phones and found that these ships were something to be reckoned with.  I would not like to be on the receiving end of these ships firepower.  They have surface to air missiles for blowing up buildings, surface to air missiles for blowing up airplanes, and torpedoes for blowing up ships and subs.  And its all hidden from view, it could be a scientific ship for all you can tell from the outside.


This stretch of Norfolk was mostly military or commercial shipping docks.  We cruised slowly through here and had a few beers to celebrate the calm water and protection from the wind.  It was extremely relaxing, in fact, it was the first relaxing time underway of the entire trip.

I have never hung out in Norfolk, but it looks like a very nice area.  This picture is downtown.


Once we left the more industrial area things became more natural and unpopulated, but there are, we realized quite a few low bridges and we weren’t entirely sure if we could make it under them.  Who would have thought we would have to wait for drawbridges in a boat this small.  This bridge was really close.  We had about a foot to spare.


As we cruised the channel we eventually came upon a lock.  Who would have though there would be locks in the intracoastal since boat sides are connected to the same ocean, but I assume its to keep the currents down.  There was less than a foot between the two sides.  We timed the locks pretty well, there was one other boat, a very large one in there with us.  Immediately after the locks is a drawbridge that has a 4 foot vertical clearance.  No way we were making it under that.  But apparently they time the opening with the locks. 


Here you can see the difference between the two sides of the lock.  Almost none.  I am used to the Seattle locks where there is around a 20’ difference.  Right beyond the locks you can see the super low drawbridge.

Once the locks opened the larger boat went first and we followed.  The larger boat tied up to a public dock that we assumed is for people waiting for the drawbridge, so we followed and tied up there too.  Once we get through this bridge, there are two more drawbridges that open on the 1/2 hour, and they are about 1/2 hour apart at slow speeds, so it would be perfect.  Then we would be on our way to our destination at Coinjock, which is about 35 miles from the locks.  We got though the locks at 3, and figured an hour for the drawbridges, and then half hour-45 minutes to get to Coinjock, plenty of time before sunset.


Dad went and talked to the people on the larger boat, a very nice couple and found that they weren’t waiting for the bridge, they were staying the night.  So basically we screwed up, the bridge didn’t open because we didn’t pull up to it.  Damnit.  This bridge opens only every hour with the locks, so we had to wait until 4pm.  The Centerville bridge, the next one, is closed from 4-6 for commuters.  So basically we missed our chance… if we waited until 6pm we wouldn’t make it to Coinjock until after dark, and we definitely don’t want to cruise these unknown waters in the dark.  So we ended up staying in Great Bridge.  So we tied up and got down to emptying our cooler of some beer weight.  We heard there was a fun bar/restaurant right across the canal from the bridge, so we decided to wander up there.  By the time we got there we were both a little saucy, but we managed to order some more beers and get some chicken wings in our bellies.  After we ate, I talked dad into playing some Golden Tee.  He isn’t nearly as good at golden tee as he is at real golf.

I crawled into my coffin at about 11:30 and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.