We left Portsmouth at dawn this morning to make the first lock opening at 8:30 am. What we didn’t count on was sunrise hitting us just as we approached the first bridge. We were both so blinded we couldn’t see the marks, the bridge or the chart plotter screen. Straying too far to the right we went aground. After getting off we saw 3 other boats behind us have the same problem.

Just as we got through the bridge our engine overheated–panic time! There was no place to tie up or anchor so we turned the engine off and started to drift. Luckily our friends on Dakota II were close by and offered to tow us until Skip sorted out the problem. Remembering Calypso’s towing story, I was a little leery but it worked out fine. Skip added a bunch of coolant and the engine temperature went right back to normal. We don’t know what happened but he assumed that a bubble formed when he flushed the cooling system and got forced out when we backed off the bottom. I’m just hoping that getting our first grounding and engine failure out of the way will lead to calmer days!

We made it to the first lock and were the only 2 boats to go through. A bunch of boats docked just after the lock joined us on the parade to the next lock. We got there early and the lockmaster opened the bridge right away and let us into the lock. Just as the gates closed the guy on the trawler opposite us went into a panic. He didn’t realize that the water was dropping and had cleated off his stern line (you’re supposed to play out the line as the water level drops about 6 feet.) I saw him run into the cabin and bring out a knife to cut the line. I bet he was hoping no one saw that happen!
Great Dismal Swamp
Great Dismal Swamp
By noon it was hot and sunny–my kind of cruising day! We motored into Elizabeth City and tied up at the free dock next to Spartina. We met Phil and Sarah in the Bahamas on our first cruise and enjoyed getting caught up with them.  Drinks and stories on Moondance with our friends is the best part of cruising!

After a few gin & tonics I’m finally relaxed and ready to face another (hopefully less exciting) cruising day!