Friday, October 30, 2009

Deltaville, VA to The Dismal Swamp

We left the comfort of St. Jeromes Creek in the face of poor forecasts in the coming few days which would make it uncomfortable getting across the wide mouth of the Potomoc River.

We went inside the Smith Point lighthouse and headed for Jackson Creek in Deltaville, Virginia where we had weathered a few storms and cold weather in previous years.
It was a good day to travel and we arrived in the creek while it was still very pleasant.  For a minute, we thought we might have taken a wrong turn and were in front of Mount Vernon which we had passed on the way up the Potomoc a couple of years ago.  It turned out that it was just some wannabee who wanted a pretentious house on Jackson Creek.
A closer look around revealed a bunch of beautiful Chesapeake work boats.  We also noticed that some of the leaves had begun to turn.
A young guy came by a few times paddling a surf board with totally dry clothes.  He moved it with great ease and speed.  I am sure I would have drowned trying the same thing!  He said his 67-year-old father goes out on it all the time in all kinds of weather.

It then commenced to blow pretty hard and rain quite steadily for 6 days and nights.  Other boats came in to the marina or the anchorage, but very few left because of the lousy weather. We were glad to be on a boat because there was flooding over a wide area of the bay.  The local yacht club dock was close to two feet under water.

On the seventh morning, we saw our first sunrise in many days and decided it was time to head toward Norfolk.  We were part of a long parade of all the boats who had been gathering and hiding out for the last few days.
The sailboats had enough breeze to motorsail as we all headed toward the sun and the warmth of the south.  We had some schedule constraints since we had just heard that our daughter and her family were moving from Florida to Dallas on the second week of November and we wanted to find a place to leave the boat so we could drive down for a visit before they left.

We passed a number of schooners who were heading north.  Either they were returning from a rendezvous around Norfolk or were heading for one in the Chesapeake -- or both!

We passed through Norfolk, figuring that we could get to the Dismal Swamp and maybe even through the first lock and up to the North Carolina Visitors Center free dock.

A whole fleet of these guys rushed by us probably protecting us from the terrorists who were on their way in from the ocean. We went by the museum with its battleship and a number of active warships in drydock or under repair and refurbishment in the docks.
We successfully got through the bridges before one or them shut down for two hours at rush hour and hung a right into the Dismal Swamp Canal.
We made it to the last opening of the Deep Creek Lock with time to spare and found a bigger trawler waiting there.  Once in the lock, we could see where we were in relation to the rest of the world (or the East Coast of the US anyway).

The doors behind us closed and water rushed in in front of us to raise us about 8 feet up before the doors in front of us opened and let us out of the box.
We followed the other trawler through the canal past the old Superintendent's house which has deteriorated a lot in the last two years since we saw it last.
As it began to get dark, we passed into North Carolina and pulled into the North Carolina Welcome Center at dusk to tie alongside another boat for the night.
The next day we planned to go through the other lock early in the morning in order to get to the free docks at Elizabeth City to run some errands, do some laundry, get a scheduled blood test for the skipper, and do some grocery shopping.

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