Trawlering The Chesapeake Bay

Warning; This is a long post.
Great Bridge, VA is always a good stop along the waterway before entering the Chesapeake Bay northbound or after the Chesapeake if southbound. The free tie up on the wall between the bridge and lock gives access to groceries, shopping of all sorts, restaurants, hardware stores, pharmacies and most anything you might need. For us, it was an opportunity to visit with friends that live nearby. But after a few days of visiting and then waiting for the rains to let up, we locked through the Great Bridge Lock once more and motored north through the Norfolk/Portsmouth waterway. Cruising past our Naval Fleet and the many different types of vessels encountered along this stretch is always an amazing experience. We see everything from riverboats and nuclear submarines, to aircraft carriers and working tug boats. All against Norfolk's and Portsmouth's towering backdrop. There is always a visible security presence all along the waterfront, and they are serious about their job. It's imperative that anyone give the Naval vessels a wide berth.

The Great Dismal Swamp Canal And Welcome Center.

When we tell other boaters that we plan to travel the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, many respond that they would love to do it but are afraid to try. I already know the answer but I still have to ask, why? The answer is always the same. They are afraid that they will hit a log and damage the keel of the boat or their props or rudders. The canal has a reputation for debris floating in the water and, especially, lurking under the surface. The question then becomes, is that reputation and fear justified? The answer isn't that simple; it's yes and no. Is that fear and reputation enough to avoid a wonderful experience. It wasn't for us. After several trips up and down this stretch of the ICW, we vowed that this time we would do the Dismal Swamp, no matter what.

Elizabeth City, North Carolina, The Harbor of Hospitality

Any boater that has transited the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway more than once has at least heard of the hospitality offered to boaters in this sleepy North Carolina town perched on the Pasquotank River. Most boaters are also familiar with the tradition of the Rose Buddies, but alas, the Rose Buddies have all passed on and the tradition is all but gone. A short detour off the traditional waterway on the Albemarle Sound will bring you to this friendly harbor, and you will still be met at the town docks by a fellow named Gus that has made himself the unofficial greeter, Dockmaster and historian at Mariner's Wharf. Gus will help you tie up in one of the 14 slips at Mariners Park (page 7, The Great Book Of Anchorages, Norfolk to Key West), give you the latest on the town and direct you to wherever you might need to go. It seems that many boaters don't know that the 14 slips at the park are not the only free facilities offered by the town.

Manteo, North Carolina

The locals pronounce it Man-e-o. This jewel, located on the northern end of Roanoke Island just about 22 miles east of where the ICW channel exits the north end of the Alligator River, is often passed by boaters as they rush north or south to get to their seasonal destination. How unfortunate for them. During our current cruise north, we have encountered weeks of lousy weather and delays, and we were looking and hoping to find a good spot to relax and spend some quality time. Did we ever find it in Manteo. It all began while anchored in the Little Alligator River. We called Carl Jordan, Dockmaster at Manteo Waterfront Marina. Being cruisers, we often lose track of time including days or even months. Just as we called Carl, we came to the realization that the next day was July 3rd and we would be asking for last minute accommodations during the 4th of July Holiday. To our delight and surprise, Carl told us to “come on ahead and we’ll find room for you.” And that’s exactly what they did despite a full marina with reservations for the holiday.

Belhaven, North Carolina

On September 21, 2013 the town of Belhaven, North Carolina will hold the 1st annual Birthplace of the Inland Waterway Celebration. You might ask yourself, what is the Inland Waterway and why are they celebrating? The Inland Waterway is the original name for what is today called the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The reason Belhaven plans a celebration is because in August of 1928, 20,000 people, politicians, dignitaries, Coast Guard contingents, Corps of Engineers, Naval airplanes and powerboat racers converged on Belhaven to celebrate the completion of a 22-mile canal linking the Alligator and Pungo Rivers. This canal was the final component to complete the Inland Waterway and allow commerce to flow from the northern ports as far as Boston to Beaufort without having to go out into the Atlantic around Cape Hatteras. Belhaven officially became a seaport and also became known for its lumber industry, with 13 sawmills, 2-world renown, a growing seafood industry and a reputation for hospitality, second to none.