Into The ICW: Pleasant Cruising, Prime RIb, And Reckless Operators

After getting held up in Portsmouth, VA, by [another] gale, we had a beautiful day to start our trek in the ICW, getting through the Great Bridge Lock, snarfing prime rib at Coinjock, and watching the New York City Marathon while under way. Good stuff in protected waters – plus an a$$-hole reckless captain. There are real idiots out there, people. Heads up.
November 2 , 2019
Portsmouth, VA to Coinjock, NC
Day 20

We had ourselves a gorgeous clear cool fall day to get started down the ICW. After giving the pups a nice walk around Portsmouth and making sure they got cookies from the marina manager at Tidewater Yacht Marina, we were on our way. It is always fun cruising down through the Norfolk naval shipyards, looking at the massive vessels hauled out and under repair. All the bridges were open for us: no problems.

The industrial scenery quickly morphs into rustic marshland and bucolic surroundings. We enjoyed the ride, and managed to time our arrival at Great Bridge Lock just five minutes before the gates closed. We lined up inside with six other vessels and had a friendly lift. Then began the jostling with the train.

We were the past boat into the lock before the gates closed: no wait, perfect timing.

We all had to wait ten minutes for the Great Bridge Bridge on the top of the hour. There were seven of us holding position as we waited. It could have been worse: there have been times when twice as many yachts have been penned together for the wait.

And then the slooooooow parade past Atlantic Yacht Basin. Of course, the lead boat was a slow boat. Several of us in the back wanted to go faster to make the North Landing Bridge opening, so there was lots of jostling and slow passing. And the first of many instances of slow boats not understanding they must SLOW.DOWN. to get a SLOW.PASS. with no wake. So maddening. And then those who won’t use their radios. Ugh. It should be so easy. But it is often so painful. Welcome to the ICW.

Trying to execute a slow pass, when the other boat won’t slow down or isn’t listening to their radio, can be very painful.

We were ultimately successful in breaking out of the gravy train and riding our own ride. The North Landing River, which is largely natural preserve, is lovely, serene, remote. So pretty with chilly air, light breeze and fall colors. Currituck Sound was calm and open. We enjoyed all of it.

Once we broke away from the other boats, it was a beautiful trip down the North Landing River.

We did get blocked up a bit as we approached Coinjock with a string of sailboats. And there we experienced an ultimate a$$-hole. We could see a large motor yacht running at high speed out of Coinjock, headed towards us and the sailboats. The channel is very shallow and narrow: no room for error or for escape.

We heard some broken radio exchange, something about a sea trial. The guy blew buy two sailboats about a mile ahead of us without slowing down. WTF??? Green water over their bows. And then he’s headed at the three sailboats just in front of us. I kept thinking, “he’s going to slow down, right?” Not.

He continues right at all of us, Wide Open Throttle, up on a plane, doing (I’m guessing) 25 – 28 knots. We learned later it was a 63-foot Ferretti named SPECTRE, brand new, with engine problems, doing a sea trial. In a narrow channel with skinny water, passing half a dozen boats within less than a boat length, throwing a large (LARGE) wake.

The whole thing was so bad it was like a movie. There was lots of room for him to do his sea trial a few miles farther up, where there was more water, more channel, and, more importantly, no other boats. And this was a professional captain. He apparently thought that because he was doing a sea trial, it was all OK. Where do these people come from? Welcome to the ICW.

When we got into Coinjock I called the Coast Guard, and then North Carolina Wildlife. They talked the talk, but long story short, I’m certain nothing happened. Disheartening.

We got settled alongside in Coinjock and tried to shake off the bad experience. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny fall afternoon. The sunset was beautiful. Pickled eggs, peanut brittle and prime rib helped. We had a fun supper at the bar with locals and cruisers. Spectre was back at the dock. Not a Coastie or Wildlife officer to be found. *sigh*

Prime rib at Coinjock: no trip down the UCW is complete without it. For carnivores anyway!

At least we got an extra hour of sleep. Daylight Savings.

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