From our early planning days, we looked forward to The Great Dismal Swamp. The canal through it—in theory—is just deep and wide enough for Misty Pearl to squeeze through. In the last week or so as Loopers are hustling up to Norfolk for the Spring Rendezvous, however, we started hearing horror stories. Deadheads galore. Stumps just below the surface. Boats with damaged running gear from pinballing off stuff in the water. All in all, not for us. We’ve scheduled a trip to the Outer Banks, then Mallory’s graduation, then a trip to Chattanooga, then a trip north to deliver Mallory to the top of Mt. Katahdin where she’ll start hiking down the AT. We don’t have time to sit in Norfolk waiting for a new shaft or propeller. So we bailed. Gonna take the Virginia Cut route, cowardly though it might seem.
Either way, of course, we first faced Albemarle Sound.
Albemarle the town is the birthplace of one Kelly Pickler—“Pick Pickler!”—who we watched on TV back before American Idol jumped the shark. Nothing so scary about that other than the fact that Steven Tyler was a judge one season. Albemarle the Sound, on the other hand, arguably is the scariest part of the Loop not named The Crossing.
We know Loopers who’ve suffered life-threatening medical issues in Albemarle Sound. We know Loopers who’ve lost engines in Albemarle Sound. We know Loopers who’ve pitched cookies after encountering unexpected six-foot waves in Albemarle Soun
Meh. Smooth and clear all day.
Doug even went down and took a long shower in the middle of it. For a while there wasn’t land to be seen, but who cared?
Coinjock Marina was the destination today. Coinjock basically is Bobby’s Fish Camp. Except with a longer and stronger face dock. And working power pedestals. And spacious bathrooms. With the locks on the inside. And grassy areas where the boys can walk. And less hyacinth. And more of those Mechanized Landing Craft manned by GI Joes. So Coinjack basically is nothing at all like Bobby’s.
We tucked in along the dock behind a Silverton 43 that previously had advised everyone that they had an issue with one engine and needed help. By the time we tied up, the crab pot float cheerfully bobbing off their stern told the sad story.
Turns out they drifted outside the channel in the current—something every boater on the east coast has done, by the way—and snagged the crab pot line. (The irony of this happening on the route we chose instead of the Swamp wasn’t lost on us.) But hey, divers gotta eat too. Took him thirty minutes to dig it all out, so we got thirty minutes of free entertainment. Who knew they use rebar as weight to sink the traps?
These are Gold Loopers who didn’t have any issues on the Loop, mind you, but now this. The diver reported some pretty worrisome damage, including a deep gash just barely short of all the way through the hull. Yikes. That’s rebar spooling up under your boat for you. A hole in the boat under the waterline is the stuff of nightmares. We’ll probably have some out of sympathy.
The Army cruised by on their way back to where the King keeps his army*, giving us the opportunity for an artsy photo.
We call it “Army Boat from Porthole Window with Water Spots.” We’ll put it in the PortholefolioTM we started back in Ludington out of rain-induced cabin fever.
Anyway, Salt Water Taffy is leaving early, which is good because right now it’s a tight squeeze with a big boat inches behind us. We’ll hole up in Portsmouth, Virginia, for a few days before dropping Misty Pearl off in Mathews. Since Mallory will graduate before we get there by boat, we don’t need to go back up the Potomac no matter how much we’d like to see Big Daddy again. The latest plan is to pick up Brent and Karen and close our Loop back at Spring Cove in Solomons before we head back north on our Down East Circle Loop adventure.
* We had children with senses of humor, so of course we know the King keeps his army up his sleevy.