Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cape may, NJ to the ICW

When our training captain Carol left us in Cape May and flew back to Newport, we suddenly realized that we were on our own.  Excited but nervous.  For two days after she left, the wind blew hard out of the west, so it was a good excuse to stay put in Uscht's Marina.  The weather was breaking on Nov. 15th, so we departed Cape May to travel up the Delaware Bay to the C & D Canal and Chesapeake City.  Passing several cool lights along the channel, we made 65 miles our first day on our own.  Not bad, and we anchored by ourselves, only moving once since we were too close to the Coast Guard dock.

Although the weather was generally holding quite well, our goal was to get to Norfolk and inside the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to enjoy it's protected waters.  Then we felt like we could slow down some and not be so hurried.  It was chilly, but we did not want to get hit with real winter storms.  We kept pushing south.  The next day was Annapolis for a quick walk downtown.  Jayme's sister Jessica and her boyfriend DJ drove down from DC for dinner on the boat.  Our first dinner guests!  Luckily for me, Wendy says that only one person can fit in the galley to do dishes.  But I kind of like bumping into each other and I did dry.

Still on a mission to push South, the next day we made anchor at Solomons, VA, then the next morning on to Deltaville, VA for an adventurous docking at the Deltaville Boatyard.  I re-learned to never, ever approach downwind if you can help it.  We had the yard look at a couple of mechanical issues, primarily our not cold refrigerator.  On the 21st, we went through Norfolk fascinated by all of the water based industry and the Navy yard.  We wanted to see cool naval ships but not deal with them in the channel.  Feeling a bit proud for making it to the ICW and a somewhat relieved that we could slow down some and enjoy the trip south, we headed to Top Rack Marina and it's cheap diesel.  I was not used to these large tanks, we hold 750 gallons of diesel.  Finally, after taking on 350 gallons, I stopped short of filling the tanks.  We had made it to the beginning of the Dismal Swamp and the ICW.  With a day of very cold rain in the Dismal Swamp and frozen lines the next morning, we were glad to be chasing warmer latitudes.

Soon, we got into a nice daily rhythm traveling down the ICW.

We had some chilly but beautiful days the Chesapeake.

The Norfolk yards were very cool.  Our first views of huge ships up close.

Our first night on the ICW just south of Norfolk at the beginning of the Dismal Swamp Canal.
The Dismal Swamp Canal was hand dug and opened in 1805 to connect the Chesapeake Bay to Albemarle Sound.  It's 22 miles and George Washington was one of the original investors.  We went through on a chilly, rainy day to the free dock at the welcome center.

Our first lock was exciting. 

The lock operator Robert is a hoot.  He provides great guidance for new boaters through the lock, blows conch horns and makes a yogurt parfait for each traveler.  He also had plenty of good advice for us new boaters.  As we later learned, other lock operators are boring compared to him.  He is a true example of how go make a job fun.

Getting our well deserved parfait at Robert's hut, and he had some really good heat.

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