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Southbound 3 (Third of a series)

Feb 28, 2013
Pacific Seacraft 40 Belfast
In Annapolis, after spotting our first pelican of the season, we tied up at the Eastport Yacht Center where Rick, the Fischer Panda expert at J. Gordon, quickly discovered what I did wrong when replacing the generator’s impeller. The impeller is in a difficult spot, almost impossible to see. I mistakenly thought the o-ring was missing and added what was actually a second o-ring. That caused the generator to overheat. (?) It was a quick fix for Rick and the generator is fine again. I learn something useful every time someone who knows his stuff works on Gorgeous Girl.

We stayed overnight at EYC, had dinner at Davis’ Pub, made a grocery tun in the morning, and were out of the slip by 9:30. That was early enough to make it to Solomon’s with a fast motor sail across a light (3-7 knots) west wind that became a light east wind. We were making up for lost time and hoping to get to the Alligator River Bridge on Sunday before they shut it down for a week or two of maintenance. There’s no shortage of niche anchorages at Solomon’s. We took Bow Cove off Mill Creek.

Wednesday was supposed to be another in a string of light air days. Instead it was a beat into 20 knot headwinds with steep, choppy seas. We bashed into them all morning with spray flying over the dodger. By noon we’d had enough of that, turned right at Point Lookout and sailed down wind up the Potomac River, anchoring in a cove off Smith Creek. The last time I was in that neighborhood was 20 years ago at the end of the Governor’s Cup Race which starts in Annapolis at 6:00 pm and ends 70 miles later at St. Mary’s College. We lucked out that year with a hull speed spinnaker reach that put us in the St. Mary’s River by dawn.

Overnight the interrupted series of light air days returned. We motored all the next day into winds less than 5 knots making it almost to Norfolk. It was sunny and warm so there were no complaints. We spent the night anchored just outside Salt Ponds, close enough (not the Lafayette River where we usually anchor but close enough) to the Dismal Swamp to make the 11:00 locking if we left at dawn.

As insurance, we left in the predawn glow with no wind. We watched the rose colored fingers splay across the eastern sky. With mostly favorable currents we were at the Deep Creek Lock, entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal, with 20 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, our friend Robert Peek wasn’t on duty that day. I had a gift for him, a copy of an old book set in Deep Creek, that I left with the substitute lock tender. The other bad news was that, due to a power failure, the lock was inoperable. Virginia Power came to the rescue and we locked through at 12:45. That meant we couldn’t make it to South Mills by 3:30, the last locking out from the canal. So we stopped at the Visitors Center dock with four other boats. Every one of us had a water strainer filled with duck weed. Most of the 40 miles between Deep Creek and Elizabeth City were coated with the slime from shore to shore.

The canal had only just reopened, after being closed for more than a year, on October 31. The duckweed was a perfect halloween costume for the canal. Actually, where it was thinner the swirllng patterns it made were quite attractive.

We locked out at 8:30 and were in one of the free slips in Elizabeth City by noon. We had more than a month’s worth of laundry to warrant a three block walk to the laundromat. We’ll stay here tonight then get through the Alligator River bridge tomorrow before it shuts down.

Nine states down and four to go.

PS: Though a life long Red Sox fan, I can’t resist congratulating the Houston Astros along with my son who was invited to march in the victory parade.

Brian D

Feb 17, 2006
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
That water! :yikes:

Nice read. Thanks. Wish we had something like that on the West Coast.:( (unique waterways, not slim. LOL)
Feb 14, 2017
Mainecat 38 Anacortes
That water! :yikes:

Nice read. Thanks. Wish we had something like that on the West Coast.:( (unique waterways, not slim. LOL)
Umm, you just have to go north a few miles, okay, 1500+ miles. Having now done the ICW to FL a couple times, I'd say that while the ICW is unique and interesting in its own right, the Inside Passage from the S end of the Salish Sea on up to Juneau (as far as I've been, with some few gaps along the way) is sufficiently varied as to provide a life time of experiences that will never bore.
Aug 22, 2017
Hunter 26.5, 212, 170 West Palm Beach
If you find yourself in the ditch south of Mayport & north of St. Augustine, keep your eyes open. There are some unmarked shoals there. The locals often try to mark them with empty Clorox bottles, but sometimes they miss a few.

About half a block from the south/east side civilian docks just inside of the Mayport Inlet, there is a pretty good little low-brow seafood place. I can't remember the name, but I'm going to go back there the next time I pass through the area.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Plus 1 Brian on the variety and beauty of the Salish Sea. I just completed a 200nm trip in 6 days taking me from Everett WA to Ganges BC and back. Did not sail the same water once.
Here are a couple images to tease your thinking.
CD6C08DC-7CC2-44E2-80BB-4F0AB7EEB630.jpeg 5682B57F-81FD-4B6F-BBCC-0D9454F9099B.jpeg 74356657-B1CC-4F6A-8681-C3729C13B8A9.jpeg 06D51F80-801F-47F6-970A-E5238E8398FE.jpeg D67FFF64-D38E-49AD-AAFD-D06F96BAAAF7.jpeg
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Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Great read, Chris. I regret after 1 trip down and two returns of the ICW(we trucked the boat home once), not having gone through the Dismal Swamp. It's such a beautiful waterway.

First time we were on the heels of Hugo and I think it was closed(as were many bridges). Another time, I think it was also closed.

Feb 11, 2017
C&C 27 MkII Ottawa
Thanks Chris, I'm really enjoying your trip reports. I just hauled my boat for the winter so I'm living vicariously. Great writing, keep them coming!
Feb 28, 2013
Pacific Seacraft 40 Belfast
We were anchored last night by deep point, tonight Campbell creek.
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