Back where the cotton and the corn and taters grow*

The good folks at Coinjock packed us along the wall nose-to-butt with scarcely room to breathe, which allowed us to justify waiting there until the boat ahead of us—now unfettered by a trailing crab pot—detached.  We figured leaving at 7:45 should put us at the first swing bridge for the opening at 11.  That bridge sits about an inch off the water, so we ain’t getting under it.

Before the bridge, however, we enjoyed our last canal for a while.  The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal is the last bit of ditch we’ll see until we get back up to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at the top end of the Chesapeake Bay in six weeks or so.

Someplace after the swing bridge we passed back into Virginia.  By our reckoning no new states for us until Vermont.  That’s about two months out.  We were welcomed by one small cannon that seems to have no legitimate purpose in life.

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Not scary at all.  At that trajectory nobody’s hitting anything on the water.  If the folks in the brick house want to defend themselves from a naval attack, it’d be more efficient just to toss the balls from shore.

Honest question.  If the water level fluctuates by six inches, is a lock truly necessary?  What happens if it just stays open?  We’ll never know, because the Great Bridge Lock was in business, allowing us to demonstrate the skills we acquired on the other zillion locks we’ve traversed.

Dana expertly retrieved and prepared to deploy the orange ball fenders we use in locks, only to be trumped by built-in rubber rails.  These things are sweet.  Hey New York, can you please put them in the Erie?  Anyway, we’re not sure if we went up or down but the gates opened so we assume it was one or the other.

3017F915-CDD9-4AA6-BF0F-593790AE040AShortly after the lock, we wistfully passed the cutoff to the Great Dismal Swamp.  Maybe next time we’ll be in a skiff—or an icebreaker—and will give it a shot.

Yesterday’s destination was Portsmouth, which is across from the Norfolk waterfront.  Just a couple of train bridges to go under, and they’re “usually open.”  Nope.  The bridge they call Bridge No. 7—but we call names unfit for polite society—was down.  So we sat.  Finally a train came by.  So we sat.

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Okay, train’s gone it’ll open now.  Nope.  Is the jackass from the Marseilles Lock running this bridge?  Wait, another train’s on the way.  So we sat.  That train finally arrived and crossed.  While we sat.  An hour hungrier we made it through.

Somewhere in there we passed Mile 0 on the Atlantic ICW.  Which means we did the entire thing.  We can’t say we enjoyed every minute of it while that wasted hour still simmers in our heads, but all in all it’s a darn cool stretch of Loop.

E31B038A-DFFB-496C-91BF-F26FD9DD3B19Norfolk is a primary Navy shipyard.  The USS Oscar Austin and USS Carney were just two of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers down for service along our route.

That’s a ton of firepower shut down for repairs.  Hopefully the Germans don’t bomb the Navy here like they did at Pearl Harbor.**

We docked at Tidewater and there, just across the Elizabeth River, so close we could hit her with a ball from a small cannon if we only knew where to find one, sits The Lower Place.

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Robin and Charlie and other Loopers of all shapes and sizes are in town for the Spring Rendezvous.  We hit up the Rendezvous last year so decided to give it a pass.  We’ll head over for one of Charlie’s famous Bushwhackers or something, however, before we leave.  We also want to pop into the AGLCA store just to see if we need any more stuff.

img_7840Since we’re finishing our Loop in Solomons, we’re now only three stops away.  Insert cry-face emoji.  And yet that’s still a month down the road.  The plan now is to leave Misty Pearl with Zimmerman just to make sure everything’s in order for the Down East trip.  Hopefully we’ll be outta here and up to Mathews on Tuesday.

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* RIP Ray Charles.

** RIP John Blutarsky.

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