Which Direction to Go?

Heading south from Portsmouth, we have decisions about which direction to go. There are basically 3 alternatives to head south. 1) Atlantic Ocean 2) Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway, better known as the “Virginia Cut” or 3) the Dismal Swamp. There are pros and cons with each of these routes.

Atlantic Ocean – Pros – no bridges or locks Cons – need to wait for a good weather window and you are more exposed to wind and waves.

Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway – Pros – protected waterway not exposed to wind and waves, no duckweed like the Dismal Swamp Cons – no really great stops along the waterway except Coinjock and Coinjock has limited dockage and some swift current.

Dismal Swamp – Pros – protected waterway not exposed to wind and waves, very scenic and beautiful, lots of great stops along the way. Cons – currently there is a lot of duckweed. Duckweed gets caught in your engine intake and and clog up your intake strainer for your engine. 2 bridges and 2 locks

We have previously taken the Dismal Swamp route and we really enjoyed that. We haven’t taken the Virginia Cut yet so this time we decided to go the route of the Virginia Cut.

We left Portsmouth at around 7:30 am with Ed and Evelyn aboard Dutch Wind, Dave and Ray aboard First Light and us aboard Painkiller. It’s always a little crazy leaving the Norfolk/Portsmouth area with all the commercial traffic and bridges. At one point we had a group of about 20 boats that had to wait for the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge to open, however there was a large commercial barge heading in the opposite direction and all 20 boats needed to quickly get out of the way in a limited amount of space. Once the barge passed by we were able to get underway and get through the bridge.

A short time after the bridge we came to the one and only lock that we need to go through on the Virginia Cut. Thankfully its quite a large lock and most of the 20 or so boat were able to fit into the lock at one time. There were 2 boats in the back of the pack that didn’t make it into this lock cycle. They will have to wait for the next lock opening. We stacked in closely on both sides of the lock and the lock masters were on hand to help with lines and get everyone tied up in the lock. This particular lock only drops us about 1 – 2 feet. Here are some photos of the lock.

Shortly after exiting the lock then we came up on the one bridge that needs to open for us to transit through. It was quite a procession with about 20 boats going through.

Once we all got to Coinjock, we knew they were full for the night and we had plans to anchor for the night. We anchored in a nice area behind Buck Island that was large enough to hold several boats and well off the ICW and fairly protected. It ended up being a pretty great anchorage. The cover photo is the moon rising from our anchorage. Tomorrow we are off to Manteo (pronounced Man ee o)

2 Comments on “Which Direction to Go?

  1. Atlantic Ocean! Weather here has been great but it is shifting to more wet and windy!


    • I’ve been to Coinjock. You didn’t miss anything except the chance to buy a funny T-shirt. safe travels. Lloyd.


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