Friday, April 18, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014 Dismal Swamp with Lots of Delays Today!

One nice advantage to the Elizabeth City Public docks is the closeness to the draw bridge.  I called the tender at 6:30 am and gave him a heads up that we would be requesting an opening in 5 minutes.  He said he would have the bridge opened and waiting!  What great service!!  We wanted to get going by then because the bridge is restricted from 7-9am from M-F.   Plus, the weather’s suppose to change and bring winds and rain tonight.  So we’re trying to make it to Portsmouth, Va to tie up by early evening.

We are now headed to the Dismal Swamp and will get through it by late this afternoon.  The South Mills Lock opens 4 times a day just like the Deep Creek Lock.  We know we can’t make it to its first opening at 8:30 am  but we’ll be able to make the 11 am opening.  The only trouble with this is that motoring very slowly will still get us there 1 hour early.   Ugh!  It was so gusty and the waterway directly in front of the lock gates is pretty narrow, that Chuck was constantly moving the throttle forward and reverse to keep us off the banks and out of the overhanging trees.  It wasn't a fun filled hour, that’s for sure.  Finally,  it’s 11:00 am and the gates are ever so slowly opening…but in we motor.  Since we were the only boat, it didn't take long for us to lock up and through the gates and then motor the ¼ mile waiting for the lock tender to now become the bridge tender.  After 30 minutes, we were through both the lock and bridge and on our way to the Deep Creek Lock.
exiting South Mills lock
waiting for South Mills Bridge

bulkhead at the Welcome Center
narrow canal
The section of the Dismal Swamp between the two locks is very straight and narrow.  I think we are the only cruisers heading north except for sv/Whisper who left from the Welcome Center.   We are seeing quite a few kayakers launching at the Welcome Center and a Macgregor Sailboat tied up at a small dock along the way.  The only other boat is a sailboat heading south…very different than last October.  I made a mistake and told Chuck that the Deep Creek Lock’s next opening is at 2:30.  So he had the hammer down...
3 hours to make it from lock to lock.  Then when we were 10 miles out, I checked the time again and discovered that the last gate opening of the day is 3:30 and not 2:30.  Oops, sorry!  Chuck slowed us down and we still got there 1 hour early.  Not again….darn!  We arrived at the draw bridge at 2:45.  When I hailed Robert, he decided to call the other lock to see if there were any boats behind us.  There weren’t any, so Robert opened the bridge and lock gates early for us.  Yes, we finally got a break today…only to face another delay….the Gilmertin Lift Bridge.

Gilmertin Bridge and RR  Bridge
view waiting for Gilmertin to open
 It’s on restriction between 3:30 to 5:30. I knew this was correct because I spoke with the bridge tender about an hour ago.  Robert told me to call the bridge back to see if they have any commercial reservations scheduled during the restricted time.  The reservations must be made 2 hours in advance so the bridge tender knows one way or the other.  If we’re there and the commercial vessels get a lift, we can pass through that opening.  So, I called and no such luck!   5:30 it is!  We ever so slowly motored to the Gilmertin Bridge only to have an hour wait there too.  So many delays today….but once the bridge opened we only had 2 railroad bridges and a fixed bridge to pass and then we’d be at the High Street Landing and a free facedock with sv/Whisper.  We made it by 6:00…Yikes….it took us 11.5 hours to go 51 miles!!!!  David and Rita were there, waiting to catch our lines and to give us some back news. There transmission went out again…this will make it 4 times. I just feel so bad for them.

aircraft carrier across the river from us

HH II and Whisper at side

HH II at side
Surprise, surprise.  We were entertained by the Portsmouth Fire Department.  They brought in all of their fire trucks, ambulances, and even their fire boat and positioned them for a photo shoot!   Their lights were flashing for about an hour or two.    It was really cool!  I thought Zach and Papa Gorby would have been in heaven looking at the fire dept display around us!  Finally, Chuck and I needed something to eat.  Rita directed us to a great restaurant called Roger Brown’s.  It’s a sports bar and restaurant and the owner played in the NFL during the 60’s.   It was nice to just sit there and watch all of the tv’s scattered around the restaurant…

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