June 8, 2009.
So when I left you last, we were hiding from weather in East Lake at the top of the Alligator River. We woke to 20 couple knots of wind and decided to sit tight since the first part of our day would include crossing the Albemarle Sound.
From our anchorage we could see the ICW 3 miles away. We watched and listened as 2 trawlers headed north towards the Albemarle Sound. The first trawler had no problems and negotiated the confusing north end of the Alligator River. The second trawler was run by a woman who belongs somewhere between dipshit and dunderhead in the dictionary.
They ran hard aground and called out to the first boat to inquire as to how he had made it through the 4 feet of water. He responded by saying they never saw less than 12 feet of water. She said that she was right on the “magenta line” in 10 feet of water and stuck as hell. Finally, they managed to wriggle off the bottom, back away and give it another go. Boom, aground again. After 10 minutes they were able to back off and give it another go, with the same results. She kept announcing that they’re right on the “magenta line” in 10 feet of water so therefore there must be a problem with either the chartplotter or the GPS satellite system.
Finally she spied a southbound boat so she waited and watched as he successfully negotiated the entrance to the river. While she was watching she actually said over the radio “oh, no wonder we were having problems, he’s way over there between the marks”. These stupid people were evidently following the magenta line on their chartplotter and totally disregarding the aids to navigation along the waterway.
We listened for hours as this woman complained about the inaccuracy of her equipment while real problem was that they were to busy watching their chartplotter and not looking outside the cockpit at the marks right in front of them.
The chartplotter is usually a startlingly good guide as to where the channel actually lies. What this woman couldn’t seem to comprehend was that the information loaded into her plotter is based on charts that are decades old. Weather and currents move the channels from time to time. The Coast Guard does a darn good job of moving the aids to navigation to indicate where the channel really is. Even though the channel marks were “way over there” she decided to follow the chartplotter instead of the marks that were plainly evident. Then she compounded her mistake by bitching about it for hours and never did seem to grasp the concept that the chartplotter was only a guide not a guarantee, even though a few people tried to explain it to her on the VHF. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you ever see the “Edited....Christy says I should be more respectful of people's shortcomings” headed your way, get the hell out of the way because she’s to busy staring at her chartplotter to notice anything happening outside the cockpit.
So after the morning’s entertainment the wind abated a bit so we got underway around 1230. The winds were down to 10 to 15 knots, the Albemarle was surprisingly calm and we were able to sail all the way to Elizabeth City, arriving at 1800 hours. There was a 2 day regatta underway so we decided to stay an extra day so we could catch the second day.
In the morning I took our jerry jugs and headed over to the nearby marina to grab some diesel fuel. The joke was on me because they haven’t sold fuel here in town since 2001. While talking to someone I found that the regatta was actually hydrofoil racing. We said the hell with that and got underway for the Dismal Swamp.
There is only one other possible place to get fuel and that was at Lamb’s Marina just 3 miles up the waterway. The problem with that was that there is only 4 feet of water in the marina so we couldn’t get in with the big boat. So we pulled off the ICW, dropped the hook and then took the dink and proceeded to jug 30 gallons of fuel out to the big boat.
After loading the fuel we were back underway for the southern lock at the Dismal Swamp. We purposely made the last locking of the day and allowed ourselves to be stuck in the swamp overnight.
Our plan was to grab a spot on the wall at the North Carolina state line visitors’ center. The visitors’ center is actually on state road #1 but is also the only visitors’ center in the country that can be reached by either car or boat.
The joke was on us again when we arrived and found the face dock crammed with other boats with the same plan. It all worked out good though as several of the boats, us included, rafted alongside some of the boats tied to the wall.
We left the visitors center the next morning to complete the transit of the Swamp. We were out of the lock at the north end at 1130 and headed for Norfolk. Norfolk would be the perfect place to see if your AIS was working as there are too many contacts there to even count.
We ended up dropping the hook in Mill Creek and spent the evening with Joe and Paula, friends from Oriental. They were taking a cruise of their own and were headed south to Oriental so it worked out perfect for us to meet up with them for a fun evening of drinks and dinner.