Well, it’s November, and we’re not in Massachusetts, but neither are we in New Bern yet. We are in the Dismal Swamp Canal and it’s beautiful.
We left Bluewater Yacht Center in Hampton River on the north side of Hampton Roads this morning around 11:30. I was glad to leave there: expensive, pump out not working, wifi requires a Beacon wifi subscription, signal was poor. The dock hands were excellent. Anyway, we discovered that a fellow Pirate Cove Marina “resident”, from our marina in Rhode Island, was also at this marina, heading south as well.
On the way across Hampton Roads, Jack saw two dolphins! I didn’t see them, nor the one he saw a little later in our bow wave. But I took them as being a good omen for the rest of this trip through the ICW (intracoastal waterway).
Proceeding on, a warship entered the Roads, replete with accompanying helicopters and tugboats, one of which was spraying huge plumes of water in the air. A display of welcome or some sort of security screen? It was impressive. We passed many more navy ships docked along side.
I found all the boats, tugs, booms, watercraft, tankers, barges rather overwhelming. At one point, Jack needed me to take the helm, and I was very very glad to return it to him. It was so busy and industrial, with huge impressive buildings on shore.
We went under the first bridge of the ICW, a railroad bridge which is usually open, but there was a train going across. So we, along with a catamaran, another sailboat, and a couple of motor boats all milled around, fighting the wind and trying to stay out of one another’s way. Oh, and let’s not forget the huge tanker being controlled by at least three tugboats, also waiting to pass.
We had to time our travel, as the next bridge, the Gilmerton, would be opening only on the half hour. This change in it’s schedule was because of the work they are doing on it. So again, we all milled around, this time for at least 20 minutes, trying to keep out of one another’s way.
Jack and I looked at the Dismal Swamp Canal route, Route #2 as it’s called on the charts, and decided to not rush in trying to get to the Dismal Swamp Visitors’ Center today as well. We still have a lock to go through, and it opens only 4 times a day.
So we found a place to anchor before we get to the lock, right after you come from the main canal into the Dismal Swamp. Skipper Bob recommended it. It’s called Deep Creek Basin, or as the locals call it, Hole-in-the-Wall, or the Cove. I would call it paradise! It’s absolutely beautiful here.We’re the only boat here.
We came into this square manmade basin, two small fishing boats toodling around. One left almost immediately. The other kept toodling around while we dropped our anchor. Sun shining, warm enough to start peeling off layers, not too much wind, trees lining the shores with hints of paths or dirt roads to walk.
As we were dropping our anchor, in 17 feet of water, the guy in the second fishing boat caught a 16″+ fish! Then he came over to us and offered it to us! He said that he gives a fish to every sailboat that comes in. I said it was a bit big, so he took a smaller one out of a cooler and gave it to me. I casually said I’d never gutted a fish before, at which he took it back from me and filleted it for me. I now had two fillets of spotted trout for dinner.
Cooked in a frying pan in some olive oil, with some herb mix, garlic and onion flakes, wild rice and salad, dinner was magnificent. Jack tasted the fish and said “no thanks”: he’s never liked fish, but at least he tried.
After we were sure the anchor was set, I rowed Shuki to shore in the dinghy. Found a huge tree root to tie to, and got us on land. We had a lovely long walk on a dirt road going around this “pond”, as Jack calls it. Other than the noise of the traffic on the Route 64 Bridge on the other side of the canal, it’s idyllic here.
I could happily stay here for several days. Payback for all the high paced cruising we’ve been doing up until now. We haven’t done much touristing. Well, I much prefer this quiet spot.
Jack checked the fuel filter, and was dismayed to see it half full with air. He’s spent the entire evening trouble shooting , trying to find the source of the leak. Turns out, the fuel hose was old, cracking and needed replacing. My bush mechanic husband has put together a new fuel supply hose from available parts which we have onboard. Hopefully , this will solve the problem and there won’t be other leaks hiding.
Tomorrow: Deep Creek Lock .