May 7-9; Days 164-166 Outta North Carolina and into Virginia


The last few days have primarily been jockeying for a position like a race horse due to the squeeze of the tornado alert/watch at Beaufort and then as the result of a non-functioning bridge lift just south of Norfolk, Virginia. We, along with a horde of other Loopers and northbound snowbirds had to wait to get word of a low railroad bridge being fixed before we could move northward.  Clearly there is absolutely NO point in planning anything beyond one day at a time.  It seems we are slow learners of the “live in the moment” concept because inevitably just when we do try to make an action plan, the stars align to  re-teach us.

So despite getting up early and pushing off from the Beaufort dock in the morning to head over to the very nearby Shackleford horse island (gee, it’s only about a 3 mile trek) we were unable to make it due to mega big 8 foot swells still rolling in after all the wind from the prior days.  So the wild horse sightings will have to be limited to Cumberland Island from a few weeks ago.  It’s the journey, right?

2017-5-9 ICW n of beaufort
Typical ICW view north of Beaufort

We headed north on a slow slog that took nearly 4 hours to go just 38 miles and stopped at quiet River Dunes Harbor, outside of Oriental, a small town on Pamlico Sound. Great, modern place for the night but very remote. Clearly a partially completed project with only 40 or so completed of the 500+ planned building sites (not to mention the little commercial center that has but one store operating/built)….but when you are Steve Forbes investing in stuff maybe you don’t care about success or return on your investment. Or maybe you just need a big tax write off?  Fancy jetted, steamed showers and yummy on-site restaurant for dinner as well as some walks and bike rides on deserted roads filled the afternoon and evening.

2017-5-9 entering river dunes
The infrastructure at River Dunes was enormous….this is just the private entry …the entire harbor is carved out of marsh low lands and surrounded by these retaining walls and landscaping.  It DOES make a good place to duck into in the event of a hurricane…fyi!


2017-5-9 n z bike river dunes
Nice to have absolutely no one around…even on the paved roads Ziggy could run off leash while we biked. (Ok, ok B did put her in the basket for part of the 6 mile ride so she wouldn’t get overheated or too tired!)


2017-5-9 view pamlico
If your photographer weren’t worried about lice and snakes, you’d be better able to see beyond the edge of the cliff to Pamlico Sound which when combined with the Albermarle Sound (which is slightly to the north and kind of touching) is larger than Puget Sound….but NOT if they aren’t combined! (But more on whose is bigger once we get to Chesapeake Bay!)


With still no word on whether the bridge repair was completed, N doggedly determined a route that resulted in avoiding the slow slog behind everyone up the ICW while at the same time avoiding the wide open Atlantic (and B and Z’s seasickness issues) so we headed out (fast) and just inside the barrier islands to the last available stop before the bridge: Coinjock. (I’m not making that name up…apparently it means mulberry bush in the probably-now-extinct local native language).

2017-5-9 ditch flowers
 We didn’t see any mulberries but the ditch along the road did have this beautiful display.


2017-5-9 walking boat back
Walking the boat back after gassing up to make room for all the others who would be arriving (much later) for the night.  They double raft up boats here (or more if there is a bridge/route problem)….that makes a lot of boats on 1500 feet of dock!

Coinjock consisted solely of a big long dock and a famous restaurant known for serving 32 ounces of roast beef  We happily opted for the fresh soft shelled crabs…fried!  But the restaurant was packed with boaters and a few locals. The whole scene was reminiscent of our night rafted up at Bobby’s Fish Camp on the Tenn-Tom River back in the Fall.

2017-5-9 mia 2
After dinner at Coinjock Restaurant with firecracker Mia (youngest member of a family of 6 Loopers who are on a Bayliner too…just 4 feet longer than ours! Yikes!)  As with others, we’ve crossed paths with them at least 5 or 6 times since starting.
2017-5-9 leaving coinjock
Most everyone is off the dock for an early start… we didn’t know (aka more irresponsible boating!) about the 3 bridges and the lock AND the limited openings schedule!  Hahahaha…so once we started seeing everyone rush off, we joined them.


2017-5-9 bridge
We had 3 bridges on the half or hour to wait and time for plus a lock all within about a 15 mile section.  Very busy now that the one bridge was repaired—literally opening the flood gates of traffic (mostly northbound).


2017-5-9 lock
Only a 6 inch change in water level but still needed a lock.    We need to dust off our old locking skills and get ready for the Great Lakes coming up.  All went well…even though we unwittingly tied up to the ugly barge-side wall without built in bumpers!

A bit of shell shock to go from pretty, peaceful, remote wilderness and small rural towns so abruptly and without any aforethought, into the Norfolk Harbor filled with industry, port activities and a bunch of USS Battleships in various stages of repair and disrepair.

2017-5-9 norfolk civilization 1

In fact, it’s the largest navy base in the world.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone?  Already missing that countryside…how does YOUR soul feel when you compare these last pix with all the others above (not to mention the previous posts)?

Staying the night outside of Norfolk at Hampton Public Docks—much quieter and calmer….but still not very soul-fulfilling.

2017-5-9 hampton marina
Surrounded by about 10 other Loopers—including little Mia’s family right next to us as well as another retired Washington state attorney (not in pic)…ok, you can make all the jokes you want with that lead in!) 

Off to the Air and Space Museum!

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