2016-05-07 Pamlico Sound Through Dismal Canal

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At this point of the trip its always easy to “smell the barn” and make a run for our homeport in Galesville but we fought the urge and have been handsomely rewarded!

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I cannot say too often how great it was to meet our HAM Radio friends Dick and Judy in New Bern. We enjoyed that little town a great deal.

Upon our departure from New Bern we were rewarded with a lovely sail across the Pamlico Sound. 

It was also lucky we had our friends on Belle Bateau nearby who kindly captured us under sail…Thanks Cheryl Duvall

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Our first stop was Campbell Creek and shared Happy Hour with Beth & Rip at their home. We met Beth & Rip last year at Hartges and they will be heading out on their Monk next year. I hate to report that the yacking went on to such and extent I did not get a picture….I am getting bad, more effort for pictures but perhaps I am just learning to live in the moment?

 

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It was short passage to BelleHaven NC. We always try and stop here. It was one our earliest stops when we first departed in 2013.

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We tried out a different marina this visit as well. River Forest Marina is under new management and the upgrades to the facility and ground are impressive.

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We also NEVER miss an opportunity to dine at Spoon River (http://spoonrivernc.com/). This lovely restaurant is an amazing place for such a tiny town but they are definitely thriving. Above is pork chop on kale with cheesy grits..YUM.

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We made a long day of it to position ourselves just south of the Albemarle Sound in “South Lake.” This is one of the most remote anchorages we find along the east coast.

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There is nothing out there except one road miles away, no cell service, no nothing. We understand the most prevalent residents are the bears…we anchor a ways from shore for that reason…bears swim!

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Here was a strange one….we had not planned to stop in Elizabeth City, NC but sadly as we approached the bridge was reported broken in the down position….not good if you are a sailboat with a 60ft mast. We moored and along with a number of other boats. Thankfully the repair was completed and passed the bridge the next morning. Note the bridge broke again just after we passed and understand the repair time is expected to be A LOT longer…got lucky!

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Commiserating……

Making a break for the bridge…thanks Cheryl Duvall.

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One of the few things Annette REALLY wanted to do was stop at Williams Strawberry Farm. Our plan was to moor after the South Mills Lock and before the bridge. As you can see lock is quite substantial since it raises us 8 feet to the level of the Dismal Swamp Canal.

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After exiting the lock and entering the canal we moored about 1/4 mile south of the South Mills Bridge. Also note the Williams Strawberry Farm on the map…

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A side note…if there was ever a Hurricane threatening this is where we would come. Being inside the lock there is no chance of storm surge. In addition the canal is narrow enough that would can stretch lines all the way across to secure the boat if it was going to be getting that rough. Keep this spot in the back of your mind…there is room for a 100 boats up in here…but I digress….

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So as we were waiting for the lock we found out from Facebook the fields had been picked through of all the ripe berries…drats…not to worry, they still have strawberry ice cream along with other baked goods. So as we get lines across Annette again checks Facebook and is horrified to find that they have closed the store in the afternoon to give employees some time off…are you kidding me?

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No to be defeated…we need to make the bridge opening the next morning at 0900 so we had but once option. Be at the store when they open at 0800 and then return to the boat for the 0900 opening . They even opened early for us…we grabbed a number of strawberry treats…and made the bridge opening.

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Upon departing  South Mills we are onto the Dismal Swamp Canal proper.

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Belle Bateau coming through the Dismal Swamp Canal

Magnolia underway in the Dismal Swamp Canal

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Out first stop along the way is the North Carolina Dismal Swamp Visitor Center. This is a place where we can dock for the night and it is ALSO a great place for people to come meet us for the ride into Portsmouth VA!

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This particular night there were a total of 9 boats docked and rafted out.

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When you get a group together like this there is nothing to do but have a barbeque! Keep in mind we previously had only known one of the 9 boats!

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Shortly after getting underway the following morning we were crossing the Virginia State Line.

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The terminus of the Canal is just south of Norfolk so it is a short trip to Portsmouth, VA. My niece Lori and her husband live here and we will not pass by without atleast a brief stop. Yes, yapping and no pictures.

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I did manage to capture the Admiral in front of the Norfolk skyline on the way back to Magnolia.

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From Portsmouth it was onto Hampton.

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First a brief anchorage at Point Comfort, next to Fort Monroe.

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We actually belong to the Old Point Comfort Yacht Club and as it happens it was blessing of the fleet day. Magnolia is one boat that leaves nothing to chance so we made sure Magnolia was properly blessed!

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As far as all those squiggles on the chart above..our friends Ted & Sally on Amici were coming by the area and we just had to cross the channel to say hello and get a picture or two…see you in Connecticut Ted & Sally!

Next week, Washington DC

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