We’re waiting to cruise the Dismal Swamp like Charlie Brown waited for The Great Pumpkin

And just like that, we ditched the notion of taking the Dismal Swamp route.  Again.  Happy Ours went through it on Saturday and reported places with less than four feet of water.  Plus more stumps and such.  We generally think of hull and running gear damage the way Oscar thinks of generic kibble.  It’s all good though, because we like Coinjock.  

As for Albemarle Plantation?  Beautiful place.

Beautiful, but for us it kind of peaked with the golf cart, which we used to drive around and look at every house in the place.  Oscar may appear uncomfortable, but we swear that’s how he sits.

Of course, the twenty-five-knot gusts that drove the waves that smacked us against the fixed dock all Saturday night didn’t help.  Fixed docks are to boats as rap music is to polite society.  But we fendered up, and by Monday the wind was gone, replaced by drizzle.

On the positive side, Monday also was cool.  73°.  The first day we’ve been aboard Tumbleweed without running the air conditioners.  Dana even put on a long-sleeve shirt.

It might’ve helped if we’d eaten at The Clubhouse, but a series of miscalculations on our part cost us the opportunity.  All we saw was the outside.

It also probably would’ve helped if we were golfers who could take advantage of the beautiful courses.  But we’re not golfers.  One of us has no use for it at all.  The other one of us appreciates the game almost exclusively because it gave us Caddyshack, although negative points must be awarded for the blight on humanity that is Caddyshack II.  Jackie Mason was to comedy what Ed Kemper was to coeds.

Tuesday morning, we headed for Coinjock, which meant nearly four hours of the Albemarle Sound.

The  Sound started off rougher than expected, but turned decent fairly quickly.  A nice 75°.  However, we’ll remember it more for the tragedy than the weather.

The initial news reports suggested that a helicopter had crashed pretty close to the Alligator River Marina (where we stayed Friday night), the Coast Guard had responded, and the Coast Guard had recovered some debris but still was searching for two missing guys.  All true, but from our vantage point not completely truthful.

Apparently some time Monday night, someone called in a report that the helicopter carrying their friends had gone down at the mouth of the Alligator River.  At 8 Tuesday morning, we turned on our VHF radio to hear Coast Guard Sector North Carolina broadcast a notice that a dark blue helicopter—tail number N4529J (stock photo below)—may have crashed, and asked boaters in the Albemarle Sound to keep an eye out for anything of related interest.  No search and rescue operation.  No sense of urgency.

We pulled out at about 8:30, ten miles from the purported crash site.  An hour or so later, a crabber named Brian radioed that he had pulled a backpack out of the water.   Although this all was over the VHF channel monitored by every boater with a marine radio on the East Coast, the Coast Guard had him read and spell the name on a passport that was in the backpack.  We thought this incredibly poor form.  Dana undoubtedly wasn’t the only person to track the guy down on Google.

At least then the Coast Guard finally sent a boat and a helicopter.  However, they all were using that same channel 16, and redundantly talking over each other when communicating with the helpful boaters who actually were the ones to find debris.  In one particular galling instance of unnecessary stupidity, a dude on a sailboat fairly near ground zero reported that he had just passed a “dark blue curved piece of shiny metal, approximately one meter by two meters.” Now that sort of thing doesn’t float by every day.  We’ve been cruising some thirteen-thousand miles or so, and never have seen anything like that.  And yet before taking him seriously, the Coast Guard dispatcher literally asked “Did it look like it might have come from a helicopter?”  We wanted to scream at him.

In this blog we’ve made light of other distress situations, mostly because as far as we know they’ve all ended well.  This is the first time the radio drama has involved fatalities.  There’s nothing humorous to be mined here.  It seems likely that an earlier, more aggressive, and less confused response wouldn’t have changed the outcome in this case, but next time it might.  Very sobering stuff.

Anyway, on up to Coinjock, where a bunch of other boats lined up behind us.

Although it may have looked like a typical night during the Looper migration, we sadly had the only AGLCA burgee.  Since we obviously were docked with losers (except for the nice couple aboard Reel Grace with two dogs sharing our track to New York), we stayed at home and watched another absurd episode of Suits.  Seriously, every lawyer on that show should be seeking redemption at Shawshank.

This morning the clock struck time to leave North Carolina.  We pulled off Coinjock into a great cruising day.  Not too hot.  No wind.  No current.  No crab pots.  As smooth as Jimmy Chitwood’s set shot.

The most exciting thing about the fours hours up to Atlantic Yacht Basin was watching our blue dot creep up to the state line.  Which for the record was not at all exciting.

We hit the two swing bridges—including that weird one where not one but two sections of road rotate out of the way—without more than a few minor speed adjustments.

Then we tied up at AYB in time for a late lunch and a post-nap quick drone flight.*

Until today, we’d planned to pop over to Cape Charles, then back to Deltaville for some minor service items at ZMI.  Our plans mostly are weather dependent, however, and the weather outlook changes more frequently than Fred called Lamont “big dummy.”  So now we’re heading to Norfolk for a couple of days before Deltaville, instead of crossing the Chesapeake.

AUTHORS’ NOTE:  We understand that employing multiple ridiculous analogies pushes the limits of literary decency, and we realize that this post is littered with analogies the same way the “train station” is littered with the bodies of people foolish enough to cross John Dutton.  We needed to entertain ourselves, however, and we’ll live with the consequences.  The other point is that we’re anxious for Yellowstone to come back around.  No way everybody really died at the end of Season Three.

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*If anyone gives us an easy way to keep WordPress from degrading our photos—which are crystal clear until uploaded to the blog—we’ll bestow upon him or her the first ever Golden Tumbleweed, a completely virtual and completely worthless award that we just made up.

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