Sunday, August 13, 2017

Quick trip up the ditch

As I mentioned in our last post, we are going to try to make it to Maine this summer.  It's a long way from FL to ME, especially when you travel at 5.5 knots, or about 6 mph.  Our first goal was to head up the "ditch", or Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), to the Chesapeake Bay.  From our location at West Palm Beach, FL, we were 1015 miles from Norfolk, VA and the end of the end of the ICW.  Compared to our travels in the Bahamas this spring, travelling up the ICW is blissfully calm, and a very laid back way to travel.  Even though we were on the move every day, we enjoyed the familiarity and the easy travelling up the coast.  We stopped at many familiar places, and a few new ones.

Our first stop was in St Augustine, where we wanted to spend a few days and relax and enjoy and explore this fun town.  Here we are on our mooring, right in front of the majestic Bridge of Lions.

From our spot in St Augustine, it was a easy walk through town, including another visit to the Castille de San Marco, the local castle in town.

We stopped at a few of our favorites, including Fernandina Beach, FL and Cumberland Island, GA before making a hop up the coast offshore to Charleston, SC.  We continued up the ditch through South Carolina and stopped for the first time in Georgetown, SC, a new favorite, before heading up the Waccamaw River.  The Waccamaw remains our favorite section of the ICW, there is something about travelling up this river that is just so comfortable.  Perhaps there is still a bit of river rat left in these salty dogs.  The Waccamaw is a river surrounded by swamp, and is a wonderful place to feel lost in a forest, and yet spend the night on our comfortable,floating home.  Here is our favorite anchorage on Prince Creek on the Waccamaw River.

We stopped early enough in the day for a little exploration of the swamps in our dinghy.  We saw alligators, night herons,and swallow tail kites, along with all the wonderful swamp flowers and trees that make this place so serene.  As we travelling through the swamp, we were enjoying listening to the sounds around us, here we see Kristen taking to oars!

After leaving the swamp, we quickly moved to New Bern, NC, where we took a bit of a break to catch up on some projects.  New Bern is slowly becoming our new home port, as it was so nice to return somewhere so familiar and comfortable.  We enjoyed spending time with old and new friends at the marina, while we were busy with some varnish projects and updating some electronics for our adventures north.

Leaving New Bern, we were venturing in to mostly new waters, and we were excited to get underway.  By this time, it was mid June, and summer had arrived in NC.  Here you can see we have all our sun shades up, trying to hide from the sun!


The ICW north from New Bern is only about 185 miles, and we were ready to get finished with it.  When we were just about all the way at the end, we were delayed by the Great Bridge Bridge, in Chesapeake, VA, because it had been struck by lightning, and they were only opening it early in the morning, and late in the evening.  Thankfully, there was room on the free dock, where we ended up making room for another cruiser coming through.  It was the first time we have rafted up to another boat, or in this case the other boat rafted to us.

They were a bigger than us, so it was a little awkward tying up this way.  I was happy that they were only staying for a few hours, while they waited for the evening bridge opening.  We stayed here overnight, and departed with the early bridge opening. Following this bridge is a lock, and with all the backed up traffic from the bridge delay, we ended up waiting most of the morning for the lock to pass through the commercial traffic ahead of us (they get the priority).  It wasn't so bad, as we had a place to tie up the boat, and a bunch of other boaters to commiserate with, as you know misery likes company.  Here is a view up the canal from our boat, waiting for the commercial traffic, and a flock of geese that decided to cross the canal during all the commotion.

By afternoon, we were passing through Norfolk.  It was really a treat to pass by and gawk at all the navy ships docked there.

As you can tell by the pictures, the day was mostly gray and overcast. However, by evening, not only were we through with the ICW, we were also treated to an amazing sunset.

Next stop, the Chesapeake and beyond...