We left our North River anchorage and followed a large barge into the ICW. The upper reaches of the river turned into another canal but with good width and depth. The barge continued to travel in front of us at a slightly faster speed which helped as we exited the Coinjock canal and followed the barge through a meandering path of red and green markers transiting the shallow Currituck Harbour. This was a long slow stretch with a bit of side wind and we were happy to exit the harbour into another protected canal which also marked the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia. We were travelling on a Saturday and started to notice a bit more boat traffic, particularly jet skis which we had not seen since South Carolina. We wondered if these are forbidden on the ICW through North Carolina.
We had some bridges ahead of us that required opening and unfortunately we were travelling too slowly to make the time for the North Landing Bridge, so had to keep a holding pattern until the bridge opened on the half hour. The bridges in Virginia are often very low – even jet skis can’t get under some of them.
We had opted to stay two nights at Atlantic Yacht Basin, a favourite stop for many Nordhavns and as we pulled onto the dock we spotted an N55 further down. We settled in and went for a walk, shops close by including a supermarket and a booze store – what more do cruisers require! There were also some restaurants and good selection of other shops and services, all within a short walk of the marina.
On returning to the boat we were visited by Karl from N55 Bravo. He and his wife Nora are also rookie Nordhavn owners, only purchasing their boat in April. Karl was alone on the boat while Nora was visiting family, and she was due back on Monday. But we also learned that James Knight was due to arrive on Monday to help Karl and Nora deliver the boat to Rhode Island. Being in no great hurry, we decided to wait an extra day and catch up with James as well as meet Nora.
We had two tentative bookings for August at marinas on the York River about 40 miles north. On the Sunday, we decided to hire a car, go visit both marinas, and also do a Costco shop. This turned out to be a good decision and money well spent. The first marina (and the cheapest) was a long way from anything, and was a bit run down. We would have been by far the largest boat in there and we had concerns about depth at low water. They also didn’t have proper finger docks, only extending part way along with a tapered end. We drove away disappointed but glad to have seen it before coming in on the boat.
The second marina was very different. About a mile off the main road, it had modern facilities, a huge bathhouse, big laundry and good sized pool. It also had a well-stocked marina shop, and an onsite restaurant. As soon as we got there we knew it was the place for us and we confirmed our reservation with the office. Sunday evening we took drinks to Bravo then went out for pizza.
With James arriving on the Monday we decided we should clean Southern Star after returning the rental car. This was a bit pointless as we were sitting under trees which immediately dropped debris all over us as soon as we finished. It also rained!
James had drinks on board Monday evening while Karl collected Nora from the airport and then we went out to dinner, although finding somewhere open in Great Bridge on a Monday night proved a challenge. We got a table at Woodys –noisy and full of people much younger than us.
Tuesday morning we had agreed to pull out together to make the next bridge opening at 9.00am and then travel through the Great Bridge lock and towards Portsmouth and Norfolk. This was fun, with Southern Star following behind the gorgeous N55 like a baby sister.
Portsmouth and Norfolk were quite something to see; literally dozens of US Navy boats. It is the HQ of the Atlantic fleet and the largest military harbour in the world. I counted five aircraft carriers – more than we saw at Fleet Week in Pearl Harbor a few years ago. Navy police boats were constantly patrolling to ensure we kept the required 500 yard distance from all Navy vessels.
Norfolk is also a huge commercial port and there were several container ships at anchor waiting to unload. For all this, the harbour was not busy with traffic and the two Nordhavns steamed slowly through without incident. James called us to say farewell as they turned right and headed out to sea for their two day trip northwards. We remained in what was now the Chesapeake Bay, north of where our insurance company requires us to be for the remainder of the hurricane season.
We approached York River Yacht Haven just before 5.00pm and Chris from the marina had stayed on to grab our lines. We were put on a T dock which is great for us.
Ted’s birthday was on the Monday when we were with James and Karl, so we decided to celebrate with a fantastic meal at the marina restaurant. Fresh oysters on the shell, a seafood combo for me and shrimp and grits, with a great bottle of Napa Pinot Noir. Thanks to Jenny’s mum for sending money for us to enjoy a fancy meal out!
We are here until Labour Day weekend at the beginning of September, when we head north to Solomons Island in Maryland to haul out. We both have a list of jobs to complete on Southern Star while we are here, but also plan to enjoy the marina facilities.