Friday, May 23, 2014


This is a picture of our chart plotter which shows the Dismal Swamp Canal going from left to right. 
We left the dock before I got a chance to fix those pics of the Beafort houses although I have discovered something on our new camera, I can edit them right on the camera, so perhaps there will be no need in the future to edit them after I have posted them, it is such a pain.

The first day on the ICW or Intracostal Waterway to you non sailor types, was really interesting.  We went down the canal that has been dug out from New York to Miami (I think) and you never have to enter into the ocean.  It is really shallow and pretty narrow, but we decided to take it because it was something different and we would not have to sail around the dreaded Cape Hatteras. We motored against the tide down the channel for about eight miles and then enter a river system that empties into Pamlico Sound.  

There were lots of houses built right along the water and Barry and I wondered how they could get insurance, in a hurricane or a tsunami, these houses would be inundated with water.  Rather than stop just 18 miles down as we planned we pressed on to Obercoke Island, one of outer banks that is part of a chain of sandy dunes that stands between the Atlantic and the sound. There was no wind so we had  to motor all the way there and we were never in more than 6 meters of water, mostly under 2.  This is plenty of water being more than 6 feet but 2 is an awfully small number and I get kind of antsy when we are in that amount of water for so long.

We went ashore the next day and rented bicycles for 3 hours and toured around.  We were at the post office at the far end of town and the very friendly post mistress pointed out that if we just took the next turn we would get to the Atlantic pretty quickly. (We both agreed that the post mistress had missed her calling and that she should have been working in the visitors centre, she was far nicer than anyone we had encountered there.) We cycled on and on, the road got narrower and narrower then came the sign that said you needed a 4 wheeled vehicle to proceed and pretty soon we were wheeling our trusty steeds through very soft fine sand.  We soon left them by a post and continued the 200 meters on foot to the beach.

It was a lovely long beach, bordered by dunes, behind which were reedy areas that abounded with red winged blackbirds.  It reminded us of the beaches around Bundaberg which we explored with our daughter Trish and her family.  Down the beach were pockets of people with their 4 x 4's parked on the beach, the cooler and chairs out and the fishing rods stuck in the sand.  We figured pretty much every off road vehicle looked like some version of this. 

We finished off our bicycle tour by visiting the tourist spots in town,  the second oldest lighthouse still in use in the US, the nature trail, that led to a small beach on the sound side of the island 

and the British sailors graveyard.  During WWII there was a lot of German U-boat activities 
along this coast and a naval vessel loaned to the US by Great Britain was torpedoed and sunk close to Obercroke.  Four bodies were washed ashore and they are honoured in their own section of the graveyard. 

One of the sailors in another British wreck was idenfied because he had given four British flags to someone on shore a few weeks before in order that the bodies could be buried.  We also visited the Obercoke Preservation Museum, it was an old house with artifacts in it. 

 One of the funniest things was a video about the language that is unique to the area.  A fellow was telling a story about a bunch of good old boys that went to Vegas a few years ago.  They decided to take a cooler full of fresh oysters on the plane in case they got hungry while they were gambling.  The taped up styrofoam cooler broke open on the luggage belt in the Vegas airport and caused all sorts of mayhem, too funny.
We headed off at dawn today to take the ICW through the Dismal Swamp.  That should be a treat!  I had decided on one route and doubled checked it with Barry, good thing, there was a fixed 44 foot bridge in our way and we have determined our mast is approx. 56 feet which leaves us a comfortable 9 feet clearance under most bridges, they seem to build them to a 65 foot vertical clearance. We will take 2 more days to get to Norfolk, Virginia located at the entrance to the Chesapeake. 

A view of Obercoke from the dock where you can launch small boats into Pamlico Sound.