October 18, 2008

ICW Week 1 - NO The Other Green Buoy

Do you see the green buoy off of our port bow? asks Rae Ann, "yes I do" is my reply..... Dave the depth is decreasing WE ARE DOWN TO 4 FEET!!! says Rae Ann. "Oh s..t the other green buoy", followed by a hard turn to starboard, a lucky and generous wind gust filling the genoa, while already sailing 7 knots and we were back in the channel. Yes we draw 6 foot 7 inches so we were considerably aground, however because of our speed under sail and the lucky wind gust combined with a very soupy mud bottom we were able to turn to deeper water with almost no loss of speed much less any real impact. Better to be lucky....

The ICW from Norfolk VA to Beaufort NC has several land cuts and channels through shallow sounds. The incident above happened in the North Landing River, where the channel is 100 feet wide and 12 feet deep, though sometimes much shallower. However just outside the channel depths are 1 or 2 feet so the margin for error is very small. Nerve racking to say the least. The depths generally have improved a little farther south so getting a little easier.

We visited several different ports of call, Great Bridge (free dock), Coinjock (a way station on a canal in the ICW), Buck Island (open but peaceful anchorage, Belhaven (a nice anchorage but a struggling town with 8 of 10 store fronts shuttered) and finally Ocracoke, which is on the outer banks a bit of the way off the ICW. Ocracoke is where Blackbeard was captured and beheaded, has great beaches and generally a marvelous atmosphere ashore. With some nasty weather forecast we are happy to be stuck here for a few days poking around.

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