Two hundred miles in the waterway and we are ready for an exit! Most sailors have a love/hate relationship with this beautiful stretch of water. Sailing is often impossible due to the tight canals and tricky maneuvers around huge power boats, but the scenery ranges from amusing to breathtaking, and when we do hit open bays, we rejoice with a refreshing sail.
We arrived at mile mark zero, Norfolk, after dark, having made a spontaneous stop to see our Swedish friends on Blå Ellinor. Passing so many Navy ships was spectacular. It seems like a lifetime ago that we both were engineers at Bath Iron Works where some of these were built.
Waking up at anchor in the heart of Norfolk was surreal. You could hear the water slapping at our hull and the birds overhead much more clearly than the surrounding sounds of ships, trains, cars, trucks, and cruise ship bow thrusters. After years of my mama voice saying “look both ways before you cross the road”, we were looking both ways before crossing the chaos of this river in our tiny dinghy with its wimpy 6 horsepower motor.
Safely across, we ventured into the city. Norfolk is huge but everything we needed was a short walk from the river.
First, a new phone to replace the one that proved to me that iPhones don’t float, then to a cafe for some internet to update its function. Playing tourists was fun too, as we admired the many mermaid statues and the Navy museum.
Here, we squeezed in between another sailboat and a trawler. There was about 45 feet left of the pier for our 42 foot sailboat. Moving Alembic sideways is impossible without a bow thruster, but luckily, two gentlemen jumped off their boats to catch lines and pull us sideways into the pier. I like to think they were kind, but others might say they were protecting their boats from being sideswiped as we parallel parked in a tight spot.
It looked like rush hour with all of us untying from the pier and lining up to go through the first bridge opening at 8 am. We cruised together for most of the day, waiting at each bridge, and carrying on again until we finally hit open bays and spread out. Finally dropping anchor as the sun set, we enjoyed a quiet night.
Thousands of mosquitoes were either dead on deck or hovering in lethargic swarms in every piece of shade they could find. They left disgusting green stains all over Alembic’s fiberglass, sails, and flags.
Bill’s efforts to clean was kinda gross with the tea water he scooped out of the ICW. After hours of scrubbing and swatting as we motored along, we were still covered in green polkadots.
A few more days of motoring, sailing, and anchoring in Belhaven, Oriental, and Beaufort NC, and enjoying the wildlife, canal life, and anchorages, we were ready for an exit out to the ocean.