We’re anchored in Mill Creek off the Great Wicomico river (just below the Potomac) after some long travel days and a nice break in Norfolk.  We had drinks and dinner with Dan and Donna in Oriental at a great new restaurant.  It was a great visit – getting caught up and regaling them with our sailing stories.  We left early the next morning for a long day of motoring up the Neuse River, across the Pamlico Sound and traversing the long Alligator/Pungo river canal.  There weren’t many choices for anchoring spots.  We had heard some folks on trawlers talking about anchoring at the south end of the Alligator river just past the canal.  We followed them and anchored in what was basically the middle of nowhere!  It was a calm and peaceful night surrounded by cypress swamps.  Actually, it was only peaceful after the marines stopped flying overhead!

The next morning was a little foggy as we motored up the Alligator river, went through the swing bridge and stopped for fuel.   We were motoring along into the Albemarle Sound when the boat suddenly stopped because we were aground!  Skip was following the chart but they must have dredged the channel because the deeper water was where the shoal used to be.  He managed to get us off and we inched forward until reaching deeper water.  The Albemarle Sound was smooth as glass (which is preferrable to high winds and seas!) 

There are 2 choices for routes – either the Dismal Swamp or the Great Bridge lock.  We decided on the Great Bridge route since we traveled the Dismal Swamp last fall.  The main difference is that there is only 1 lock on the Great Bridge route but a lot more bridges.  The trip was uneventful until we approached the marina at Coinjock.  We arrived at the same time 6 huge barges arrived manned by the Army Corp of Engineers.  They were milling about the center of the waterway.  As we approached, Skip talked to them on the radio and they made room for us to pass.

We stayed a Midway marina.  It was okay.  The restaurant was not recommeded by several people so we just ate dinner on board.  We also met some other nice cruisers on a trawler called Avalon.  They were from Vero Beach and had loads of cruising experience and information about the ICW.

Friday was the BIG day.  After making it through 5 bridges and 1 lock we made it to Mile 0 of the ICW.   All but one of the bridges opened on a schedule so timing our arrival was tricky.  We managed to make the openings without having to wait too long.  The lock wasn’t a big deal.  Luckily, we just missed sharing the lock with a huge tug and barge.  It was heading south and passed us on our way into the lock.  I did a little happy dance after we passed under the last bridge!

A very large cruise ship turns around in Norfolk Harbor
A very large cruise ship turns around in Norfolk Harbor

We decided to stay at Waterside marina which in Norfolk right in front of their Harborplace-like development.  Unfortunately, most of the restaurants and businesses have closed and there wasn’t much going on there.  However, there was a lovely shopping mall just a few blocks away!  Saturday morning we had breakfast at a nearby diner and then found the supermarket.  They have a fabulous supermarket right downtown.  It was like a cross between a Whole Foods and a Publix.  Skip had to cut me off after I quickly amassed too much food to carry back!

Our friend Marty met us for a late lunch.  She wasn’t real keen on driving into Norfolk (next time, we’ll stop in Hampton!) but wouldn’t let us pass by without a visit.  It was too bad her husband Rocky was away for the weekend.  Luckily, they’re taking a cruise from Baltimore this summer so we’ll be able to see the whole family (including daughter Emily!)  We met Marty on our honeymoon cruise to Bermuda almost 26 years ago!

Today is Sunday and we left Norfolk to head north on the Chesapeake Bay.  It feels so good to be back in the Bay — like home!  The wind was flukey so it was a motoring day.  We’re not sure about the weather forecast for tomorrow.  I’m concerned about rough seas crossing the Potomac River.   If it looks good, we may be able to get back to Annapolis by tomorrow night.  If not, then it’ll be the next day!