October 17th 2016 Rhythm of a Cruising Boat


Mile Marker 10 – just past Great Bridges Lock.

Today we left Hampton, Virginia heading South on the IntraCoastal Waterway. We we were sent off by an almost full moon on 16 October and a beautiful sunrise on the morning of the 17th.  Sunrise and sunset are just two limiting factors for travelling on the ICW – at leasr for us newbies.  It is simply too narrow and too unknown to risk travelling in the dark. Night travel is reserved for barges and tugs – ships  with Captains of unparalled knowledge, experience and navigational skill.

Crossing the mouth of the James River includes avoiding shoals (shallow water), Navy Ship traffic – which they refer to as warships on the radio, and tugs and tanker traffic. The initial views are quite industrial with unloading and loading tankers, refitting Navy ships, and the general waterfront economy. Within a few miles this gave way almost instantaneously to a more rural setting of marshes and woods. The traffic going South is full of sail boats such as ours, trawlers on long adventures, and a few “day trippers” out on the water while playing hookie from work. It is Monday afterall. There is far less boat traffic headed North and this is dominated by Tugs in a hurry to their next job and barges carrying grain and such to the masses in the North East.

The width of the channel is quite narrow from the perspective of one used to the Chesapeake.

We have transitioned from our trusty Chesapeake Chart books and cruising guides to one suited for the ICW. It is like a “trip tick” map that AAA (triple A) was noted for prior to the invention of GPS for the consumer. Perhas AAA still produces these. I am not sure.

On the water this book serves as a noteworthy measure of the rhythm of a days travel…. what mile marker did we just pass? What page are we on? When does the next bridge or lock open? In some ways it is quit similar to a long car trip without the ability to stop for coffee but the ability to make it while we are underway!

There are tides, currents, meeting friends, bridge closure times provisons and availability of basics like laundry, water for the boat, fuel, and holding tank pump outs.

A week and a half later the lingering primary effects of Matthew in Va. are much higher water levels on the ICW. We expect to see more Impact as we enter the Carolinas.

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