2013 Sailing the ICW

It was time to move north after the check-in sage and obtaining my cruising permit.  I pulled up the anchor and heading back out to sea to get north to Cape Lookout and in at the start of this section of the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) This section is known as the Atlantic ICW. Because is saves you confronting the wild seas of the Atlantic on the East of the stormy Cape Hatteras see more when I sail South.
I left Charleston and exited into the open sea at about dawn with little wind and a flat sea turned north and settled down for the 200 nm sail to Cape Lookout. The Gulf Stream helped me along as did a slight SE wind.
Out of nowhere a USA warship appeared not showing any register on the AIS.  I was making a good course which I thought would take me well clear of their course but soon I was called on the VHF Ch 16 asking me to change couse further out to sea.  Which I gladly did and the next minute a submarine surfaced not too far off my wake.  They must have been following me even at my slow speed of 6 knots.
The next day arrived with few ships and I was able to get some sleep with all systems working but the sea state had changed and it became quite confused still I was on target to reach my destination of the Cape Lookout bay before sunset.
Speed dropped so I turned on the engine  and saw the light at the entrance so I turned into the channel and head towards what appeared to be a few anchor lights.  I could see Jack Tar on the AIS so chose a spot down wind and dropped the anchor Pedro came over to ask how I was and if I needed anything which was a great gesture.  I was OK only needed some sleep.  It rained all night.

We where all up early to get into the entrance at Beaufort which was tricky and had many sand banks.  I think Balvene had gone aground here the previous year.  Well Eye Candy was sent in first with Jack Tar next and Malua taking up the rear.  All went well until from around the corner appeared a large freighter sounding it horn demanding almost the full width of the channel.  JT made a swift turn to get out of its way while I slowed and let it pass but that put some distance between our group.  I had to hurry up to get through the first bridge and into the real ICW for a short period and then into the wide open waters to the west of the Atlantic Ocean.

We all stopped to fill with diesel and then out into the waters to follow the buoys that marked the channel known as the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.  On Active Captain you followed the purple line and noted the crowed sources notes of where the channel had swallowed.
We all dropped anchor in the shadow of a small island called Alligator planning to set off early to make the next major bridge at Great Bridge which we made at 9:00.  The wind and rain made the passage along with the featureless water and distant banks rather dull.
The cruising Guides are full of information but difficult to read if you are going north against the mile markers and the normal cruise route.  They are filled with information we did not need so I chose to use a set of charts I had purchased from another cruise in the Caribbean.  This told us when the bridges would open so we could schedule our arrival for the opening even .  The Great Lifting Bridge south of Norfolk Virginia was the major impediment to reaching our goal along with another however we arrived with some luck at both with only a few minutes to wait for the lift.  It was onward and upward (North) to Portsmouth and a great little harbour next to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum.  Eye Candy had spent the last season there and weathered the tropical Storm Sandy which swept up the coast in October causing great damage
We all spent a great few days here in a very relaxed atmosphere with the Norfolk ship yard across the river going at it all day long.  One only realises the size of the USA Defence budget when you look at all these ships and aircraft carriers in dock to appreciate the fire power the USA has at its disposal on the oceans of the work.  This work must contribute the the GDP of the USA.

Next off to the Chesapeake Bay but a small stop to look at the sites of the American Civil War plus a short haul to put some antifoul on and clean the topsides which had become quite stained from the brack waters of the ICW.

Here are a few Photos of the trip here...
Now off to the sailing capital of the world Annapolis on the  Chesapeake

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