Portsmouth VA to Georgetown SC

The ICW, Intracoastal Waterway from Mile Marker Zero to Georgetown SC is so diverse and so interesting. We never get bored with this trip due to the many changes in the waterway from place to place.  This diversity is the true beauty and joy of this run. Again, this is our 11th run south (we think, as we are losing track) but still, it is a real joy. It is even more fun with a fleet of Island Packet Owners and lifetime friends, Jeff & Sharon on 420 Lucille. At various times, we have been joined by RuthAnn & Larry of 37 Cambiar, Linda & Mahlon of 35 Just Ducky and Rose & Mark of Painkiller. Presented here are the best photos along the way as we moved into the ICW.

Departing Mile Zero

The famous GILMERTON BRIDGE at Norfolk. This is a combination railroad bridge and a highway bridge. This bridge is one hour from Portsmouth and it is your first challenge. The large vertical lifts are the structure to lift up the highway bridge. The bridge is restricted from 0630 ( which is oh dark hundred) until 0830 when they provide the first lift. With that schedule, you leave Portsmouth at 0730 and plan to arrive here for the 0830 openings. As we experienced, there might be a train coming that causes the RR bridge to lower and now you need to wait on the train. Eventually the two bridges open and off you all go heading south into the waterway.

The Gilmerton Bridge, Norfolk VA

On to Coinjock vs the Dismal Swamp

We used to run the beautiful Dismal Swamp, but with the convenience of Coinjock with fuel, water, and pump out at each slip, we have started to run the VA Cut and go that route. Plus who can resist a PRIME RIB dinner and a class of Red Wine? Not me. But the first stop on the way to Coinjock is the town of Great Bridge. Due to speed, time and distance, you really can’t easily make it from Gilmerton to Coinjock in one day. You can, but you will arrive late in the day 5-6 pm and who wants to do that? So, you stop on the free docks at Great Bridge and enjoy the town.  The Great Bridge lock is simply a lock to hold the brackish waters of the river, back from the saltwater of Norfolk. It does not change in elevation very much, so there is only one lock on this VA Cut vs. two locks on the Dismal.

Locked up in the Great Bridge Lock, Radeen is a happy GrL….
Leaving Great Bridge in the morning with the sunrise
HELLO COINJOCK and their wonderful restaurant where I had another Prime Rib meal…This is our team

Cross the Scary Albemarle Sound

The next leg takes you on a sail across the 14 miles of the famed Albemarle Sound. It is shallow and with a strong wind, it can be rough. Like 1-2-3 foot waves! YIKES, and many people are always concerned about this crossing. With many crossings, we have never had a bad crossing, Usually, we can sail across, and this day we had a dream sail. We fley the code zero and deployed it on a wing on wing set. Unreal.

Sailing the Code Zero on wing on wing, a first-time experiment. I do have a pole and could even add that.

Alligators and Pungo River Canal 

The anchorage at Deep Point, the stopping point before running the 22nm canal, is always a sunset paradise. Arriving about 1-2 hours before sunset, we all anchored in the 6-8 foot waters along with many other boats running south. Then at sunset, there it was again, the famed Deep Point beautiful sunset. For me….schedule the tugboat pushing a pile driver for sunset….perfect….thank you!

Tugboat at Deep Point sunset, perfect

The next day, we had to wait out the fog and by 9 am it lifted and we could see the canal, and off we all went into the beautiful 22 nm canal where you might see turtles, eagles, deer, bears, egrets, and osprey, all of which I saw none. A first for us. I still enjoyed the reflections of the morning light and the peacefulness of this run. I like these long canals, you can’t go wrong with your navigating, just stay in the middle 🙂

Reflections on the Pungo/Alligator River canal
With the sun on the port bow, I captured this cool shadow to starboard as we head southbound….

Dream Sail Across the Neuse 

We spent the night on the anchor in Belhaven and had a great walk around town. The next day we had a surprise sailing day. None of us anticipated this, and we all started out with a motor and a jib, only to discover 12-15 knots on the beam, so up went the mainsails as well. Now we had a race! Everyone out on the water was racing down the river to cross the Neuse River and it was incredible. One of the best sailing days on the ICW ever. This rarely happens. What a joy this was. Of course Big Momma 420 LUCILLE blew us all away, and the 35 Just Ducky and Island Spirit and 37 Cambia tried to sail with her. NO WAY, not possible. What a fun day! This photo will make the 20th edition of my IPYOA sailing calendar.

420 LUCILLE and 35 JUST DUCKY sailing down the Neuse River in 15 knots.

A new SOUTH RIVER anchorage

Thanks to IP owners Jim and Lynn, local to this area, they told us about South River. We needed a place to wait out one day as the strong SW winds of 20-25 were blowing down on the coast at Beaufort NC. We did not want to run that, so we decided to wait a day on anchor.  So into the South River off the Neuse, we diverted, and what a joy that was. Thank you. We stays an extra day there and waited out the winds. It worked out great. Of course with a lay day, that brought out the baker on Island Spirit and we made our first batch of coconut cranberry scones. See www.BoatRecipes.com for my recipe.

Scones, wonderful homemade scones, Island Spirit baking
On anchor waiting out the 20-25 SW winds down in Beaufort
IPYOA custom coffee mug with our own baked scones….yum yum

Cold in the Mornings

It has not been that cold this year, and our lowest inside boat temp has been 49f. Usually, by mid-day, it is up to 60-65f, but at nighttime when the sun goes down, it gets cold fast.  This is our usual gear in the morning…ha ha ha

Hayden with his proud Drexel hoodie and Radeen with her cute homemade knitted hat by friend Kate of 350 Eilean and two fleece tops.

We Reach Wrightsville Beach, a fav.

The first beach that we can access to walk and go shelling is Wrightsville Beach, NC. This town is an all-time favorite of ours. We always take an extra day here to enjoy the beach, walk the town, access some great places to eat, and simply slow down. This town is so active, people are walking, jogging and working out all the time. It is a college town with UNC nearby, but it is also a very wealthy town with really beautiful homes and docks on the harbor, The harbor is near perfection with easy access from the ICW and also a class-A ocean inlet. You can not get better than this. Wrightsville Beach, is a dream. PS: This day, Radeen and I walked 15,500 steps, 7.5 miles…ahhhhh

We hit the beach with 37 CAMBIA, Larry and Ruth Ann to go shelling. Always a must do
The walk of 1-2 miles up the beach takes you to the cool photo spot of the fishing pier
Our first shelling success. These shells I sent home to our neighborhood children for a Halloween treat.

Southport Friends, Bill, and Trish

We all spent 5 winters together in the Florida Keys and Bahamas. Boating friends are lifetime friends, and this was yet another example. We have not seen each other for years, but it was like we just left. Bill and Trish build a custom cool home in Southport and someday we will drop anchor or dock at the Fish Camp and Provisioning company and walk up and see this. But with time and distance, we passed on that and docked at St James. So, they drove down and we had a great night together on Island Spirit just like in old times. Thanks for the gifts, you two are too kind.

Hayden, Trish, Radeen and Bill, next time, bring the guitar!

The Wealth of Myrtle Beach, insane

We always can’t wait to push thru Myrtle Beach, because the waterway has been abused with concrete walls and mega homes on the waterway where t-topper boats can’t really go anywhere. So what is the point? It is a crazy contrast to what will follow, the historic Socccatee bridge and the Waccamaw River Forest. Here are a few homes in this area……

An original home between the “NEW” look at me, see me mega homes….
Someone has way too much money and knows a mason!
This shack is only 14,500 sq feet and is for sale at $7,500,000.00, Pocket change!

Finally Waccamaw River Valley

The way it used to be…..before Myrtle Beach was built….

Hayden and Radeen

A happy healthy selfie as we push down the river valley

Georgetown, SC Reached

This is another town we always anchor off and spend a few days. There is Rice Museum and the Fish Co-op along with a fun waterfront and nice shops on the main street. Within a mile walk is a CVS and Piggly Wiggly and more.  Welcome to Georgetown SC. We are two days from Charleston SC where we will be halfway to Florida. We are so grateful to be here….thanks for sailing along

Island Spirit on anchor off Georgetown, SC
Sunset Georgetown SC

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Chesapeake Bay to ICW Mile 0

This is our 22nd season on Island Spirit and it has NOT become old or boring. This is also our 20+th run on the ICW, 10 south and 10 north, and it is just as much fun as when we first ran this in 2009. We are excited to share this run with our longtime buddy boat  svLUCILLE, Jeff and Sharon. We departed Rock Hall, MD Oct 6th, and anchored out in our home creek of Swan Creek. From there, we made our normal Chesapeake Bay run of Rock Hall to Solomons, then Solomons to Deltaville, then Deltaville to Willoughby Bay, then on to Portsmouth at ICW Mile Marker Zero.  Each of these days is about 50 miles, taking 8+ hours to run. At the end of each day, we anchor, take hot showers and make a nice meal or go out with buddies. I have taken so many photos, as that is my hobby, and here are some of the best with captions to show the joy of this adventure…..

Photos of Rock Hall MD to ICW Mile Zero

We departed and the first milestone is passing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Annapolis MD.
Always a very fun photo
It is cold, we are layered up. 52f coldest at night in the bunk!
Full cockpit enclosure we count as a top three item: Radar, Autopilot, Enclosure
Sailing wing on wing in 20+ knots, we lost the mainsail outhaul shackle. Here you can see the mainsail forward is off its outhaul
We had to spin around into the wind and drop the mainsail into the stack pack. Then we sail on with Jib only.
The sun is bright and the water sparkles with reflections.
We arrive Deltaville, VA and it is a party at the Tap Room and Raw Bar meeting up with Island Packet friends Jeff, Sharon and Ty. (Sadly, the photo with Stu and Chuck did not turn out.)
Leaving Deltaville, we are still working on the autopilot issues. Here you can see we commissioned the digital compass with a slow 360-degree turn.
Anchored out in Willoughby Bay is always a great spot to rest and enjoy, Here is the sunrise that morning.
The reward for a completed Bay run is always the town of Portsmouth VA. Docking right on Water Steet and High Street, we have it all to ourselves….until….
Full Moon Rise over Portsmouth
Our fleet of Island Packet Yachts take over the basin, 35 JUST DUCKY and 37 CAMBIAR
Island Spirit with her 14 territory / country flags flying
Team 37 CAMBIAR arrived, Larry and Ruth Ann
Island Spirit looking festive
35 JUST DUCKY, Mahlon and Linda
The #1 venue on the ICW, the Commodore Movie Theater
Required Selfie with Jeff and Sharon
South of Portsmouth the Great Bridge single lock keeps the saltwater to the north and the brackish waters to the south
Another cool place to dock up is the town of Great Bridge, where we enjoyed the Great Bridge Battlefield Museum. We always stop here as it then makes a nice run to Coinjock.

There we are….

As you can see, this first week of running south has been full of wonderful stops shared with great boating friends. This is the beauty of the ICW and the many stops along the waterway. The diversity of towns versus remote anchorages mixed in with wonderful colonial history presents a very educational and adventurous time.  Thank you for sailing along!

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Season #22 BEGINS

With a ton of work behind us, after the summer of refit, we have finally untied the dock lines Thursday at Oct 6th, 2022 at 1900 hrs. Out to the creek we went and dropped the hook. Our 22nd season on Island Spirit has begun. The goal is southbound to Florida, then the Bahamas, and back to the Caribbean Sea where the water if indigo blue and the beaches are pristine. Can’t wait. For now, it is a 20-day run south to Stuart Florida for Thanksgiving. 

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Our Car the AB Dinghy

Team Island Spirit is on the launch pad, and as soon as this Noreaster storm dies down and the flooding and high winds and wave die down, we are SOUTHBOUND. For now, here is an interesting post about our CAR, the 10′-6″ AB Dinghy with the 15 hp Yamaha 2 stroke that does 22 knots!  This will get us to shore for the next 7 months!

Here is a direct link to the post on our public Facebook Page.

Here is a direct link to the post on our public Facebook Page.