Below, you will discover our COMPLETE listing of Virginia to the North Carolina state line cruising news/postings from fellow cruisers, arranged in chronological order, based on publication date.
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Below, you will discover our COMPLETE listing of Virginia to the North Carolina state line cruising news/postings from fellow cruisers, arranged in chronological order, based on publication date.
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
I-64 High Rise Bascule Bridge with a CLOSED vertical clearance of 65ft crosses the Waterway at Statute Mile 7.1, immediately north of the entrance to the Alternate AICW Dismal Swamp Canal Route.
VA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY (AICW), SOUTHERN BRANCH OF THE ELIZABETH RIVER TO THE ALBERMARLE AND CHESAPEAKE CANAL
Mariners are advised that VDOT will be performing maintenance inspections on the I-64 (High Rise) Bascule Bridge, at AICW mile 7.1, across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, at Chesapeake VA. The inspection will be conducted during daylight hours from September 15, 2014 through September 19, 2014. The work will utilize a bucket boat in the water near the navigable channel. The inspection should not disrupt navigation traffic and will relocate from the navigational channel upon request for vessel passage. The bucket boat can be contacted on VHF channel 16 or through the bridge tender. The bridge will continue to operate in accordance with the regulations set out in Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117.997(e). Mariners should exercise caution when transiting the area. Chart 12253 LNM:33/14
Due to major construction, the Gilmerton Highway Bridge, with a closed vertical clearance of 35ft, which crosses the Waterway just south of Norfolk at statute mile 5.8, has been under opening restrictions for over three years. After many, many Local Notices and updates, the bridge has returned to an almost normal operating schedule with updated exceptions listed in an earlier posting: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=139962. Our thanks to Matt, the Bridge Tender, for sending us this new notice.
SECTOR HAMPTON ROADS
MARINE SAFETY INFORMATION BULLETIN
BULLETIN NO: 14/013 TEL: (757) 638-6637, FAX (757) 483-8641
DATE: August 11, 2014
Channel Restriction at the Gilmerton Bridge Update
Elizabeth River Southern Branch, Chesapeake, VA
From 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays until December 31, 2014, two barges with cranes will occupy the channel at the Gilmerton Bridge to conclude demolition operations and install the bridge’s new fendering system. The barges will occupy the entire channel, leaving no clearance for the safe passage of other vessels.
Between the release of the instant Marine Safety Information Bulletin until August 31, 2014, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, all vessels transiting through the area, regardless of size, shall provide two hours advance notice by calling the bridge tender at (757) 485-5488 or via VHF Channel 13.
Between September 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, any vessel requiring 60 feet or less of horizontal clearance shall provide two hours advance notice; vessels requiring more than 60 feet of horizontal clearance shall provide 24 hours advance notice as set forth above.
Between January 1, 2015 until the project concludes on or before February 28, 2015, one barge will occupy the channel from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Vessels requiring more than 60 feet of horizontal clearance shall provide 2 hours advance notice as set forth above. Vessels requiring 60 feet or less of horizontal clearance need not provide advance notice.
Please be advised that the Gilmerton Bridge continues to operate in accordance with the schedule set forth in 33 Code of Federal Regulations Section 117.997(c).
We just get the Gilmerton Bridge construction completed and another project begins – lasting until 2017! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this replacement project will have fewer navigation disruptions. Dominion Boulevard Steel Bridge crosses the Waterway north of Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, VA.
VA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY (AIWW) – ELIZABETH RIVER (SOUTHERN BRANCH) TO THE ALBERMARLE AND CHESAPEAKE CANAL
Mariners are advised that construction work, by McLean Contracting Company, will commence in February 2013 and will extend through March 2017 for the replacement of the existing Dominion Boulevard/US 17 (Lift) Bridge across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, at AIWW mile 8.8, in Chesapeake, VA (commonly known as the Steel Bridge) and its approaches, with a new 95-foot high-level fixed bridge and new approaches on essentially the same alignment. (Latitude 36o 44’ 10” N, Longitude 76o 17’ 40” W). The operation will consist of construction of a new bridge, removal and replacement of the bridge fender system, demolition of the existing bridge and construction of a second new bridge, along with in-water work involving pile driving, concrete pier construction and girder erection. Tugboats will be used and will monitor VHF Channel 13 in the event that mariners need to contact the contractor. Mariners should check for future notices on this replacement bridge project and use extreme caution when transiting the area. Chart 12253
Update LNM: 31/14, August 5, 2014
These discussions and future meetings are extremely important to cruisers who prefer anchoring to docking. Please note that the mention of derelicts, a major cause of the new regulations and a real issue for coastal communities, is not found in this report. The newly established mooring field program and other anchoring restrictions, intended to solve the derelict problem, have not worked in most cases and have, in fact, severely limited the rights of legitimate boaters.
For an interesting Public Opinion Survey taken by the FWC, go to page 157 of a 220 page report at http://myfwc.com/media/2704721/FindingsRecommendations.pdf
FWC holds public meeting to discuss the future of anchoring regulations in Florida
In response to increasing concerns between local governments and boaters related to anchoring in state waters within local jurisdictions, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) conducted a public meeting in Tallahassee on July 21-22, 2014, to discuss anchoring issues and potential ways forward to resolve the conflicts.
Attended by interested persons representing the boating industry, resident and visiting boaters and local and state governments, the two-day meeting focused on complex issues.
“Protecting the rights of people to use the waters kept in public trust by the state is very important,” said Lt. Colonel Jack Daugherty. “We all want to keep Florida a boater-friendly state and maintain that great part of the Florida lifestyle and economy. On the other hand, local governments have the duty to respond to the needs of their citizens. We are committed to a robust dialogue and to seeking balance between boating interests and local governments in an effort to identify points of consensus and to help resolve some of these issues.”
This year, Florida’s Legislature extended the Anchoring and Mooring Pilot Program, which was authorized in 2009 to look for solutions to these problems, for three additional years in order to allow for more time to test various anchoring strategies and to engage stakeholders in exploring possible legislative solutions. During the public meeting, a framework for potential future anchoring legislation was discussed along with several draft regulatory provisions based on components of the pilot program, each aimed at solving or minimizing specific anchoring challenges.
FWC staff will draft language based on comments from this meeting, distribute that language to interested parties and hold at least two additional public meetings to further refine a possible legislative proposal. Meeting notices and reference documents will be posted by mid-August on FWC’s Anchoring and Mooring web page, found at http://myfwc.com/boating/anchoring-mooring
Those promoting anti-anchoring laws often use the argument that it is about eliminating derelict boats, but the reality is very different. For example, many of the laws exempt local boats that are stored–the vast majority of so-called “derelicts.” In some cases the laws have been pushed by local influential home owners who don’t want people anchored near their property, and in other cases they are pushed by marina and mooring field owners who want to force people to pay for using public waterways. The arguments about safety and derelicts are a smokescreen. Note that boats have broken loose from so-called safe moorings in places like St. Augustine, and yet users must sign an agreement that absolves the city of all liability.
I’m still not buying the party line from the real estate people that this is about derelict boats. The problem is that waterfront property owners pay a lot for that property, and believe with all their little black hearts, that those high prices mean they should control everything they see from that high priced property. The bigger problem is that people who can afford to buy high priced property, can also afford to buy high priced politicians, through high priced campaign contributions. Another problem is that it doesn’t matter how many times they get these laws or regulations brought up unsuccessfully, or lose, they can get as many bites at the apple as they can afford. And, for a lot of these people, that is a lot of bites.
In a way we’re lucky that they didn’t just decide that they wanted boats banned, because the same legislators that are carrying the water for them on anchoring restrictions, would be more than available to do it for banning boats, too.
North Harbor Inlet and High Street Inlet are in Portsmouth on the west side of the Waterway channel just below mile marker zero. A big thank you to Skipper Litchfield for sending us these regulations. The in-town inlet docking areas are very attractive and convenient, but suitable only for cruisers under 40ft. These inlets also serve the ferries that connect Portsmouth to Norfolk waterfront.
Official Information on Portsmouth’s mooring policies has been difficult to find, however a visit to the Portsmouth Visitor Information Center netted a fact sheet that is given out to boaters who stop and visit the center. I have scanned and posted the document (in PDF format) on our clubs website. You can see the documents here:
The following article from BoatUS on how to choose a good boat yard is certainly helpful, and you can find among our SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS NET SPONSORS! two of the finest yards on the east coast. Sponsors that are helping to keep this service FREE to the cruising community. Those yards are, of course, Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, VA and Bennett Brothers in Wilmington, NC.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 24, 2014 – While boatyards are busy, summer may be a better time to have repair work done on the boat. Why? The typical boatyard and shop warranty on labor is 90 days, giving boaters the time necessary to use the boat and ensure a correct repair. But where does a boater go to get repairs done right? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some tips:
Use what your eyes are telling you: Sometimes it’s the little things that give you a sign that the yard you are entering isn’t the best. One BoatUS member took his boat to a repair facility and thought that the abundance of boats in the lot meant that the boatyard was popular. It wasn’t until after the yard started giving odd excuses for delays and then made him pay for hundreds of dollars of ineffective engine repairs before releasing the boat, did the member notice that few, if any, of the boats in the lot had been moved in years.
All recommendations aren’t the same: Online recommendations are a mish-mash of good and bad: more reliable ones have real names attached and specific details in postings. Fellow boaters are likely the best folks to recommend a yard, but go one step further: be sure that the repairs are similar to what you need. Another option is to ask a marine surveyor. These professionals are often knowledgeable about the quality of work in local repair yards, as long as they’re impartial and unaffiliated with any shop or boatyard. Look for a boat surveyor having SAMS or NAMS credentials as these surveyor associations require their members to be independent. Another good sign to see is a shop that follows American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) guidelines for repairs, which ensures that crucial safety standards are met. ABYC technicians also get specialized certification in a range of boat systems.
Dealerships may offer more, but don’t write off independents: There are certain benefits to taking an out-of-warranty boat or motor to a dealership, with the best training and equipment being at the top of the list. Dealerships also enjoy better parts connections. On the other hand, most well established independent repair facilities also produce high quality work – especially those run by former or current factory-trained technicians. And unlike a dealership, they must compete on repair business alone and their prices are usually lower.
Look for shops that specialize: Boats vary in type, size and complexity and so do repair facilities. Don’t bring a 34-foot trawler for repairs to a shop that mostly works on trailer boats, and don’t expect the guy living in a van down by the river to fix your high-tech outboard.
“Always check around first before doing business,” said BoatUS Director of Consumer Affairs Charles Fort. “Many boaters only have the summer to enjoy their boats, so any problems could lead to a premature end of the boating season.”
Most of the reports we receive from Dismal Swamp travelers are downright amorous! See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=138522. There are occasions, after high winds or high water, when the canal may be trashed with extra debris and duckweed, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=88326. In fact, it is sometimes closed to order for the ACOE to remove excess debris. Obviously, Captain Grimes came through at one of those congested times, and I hope you will join me in encouraging Captain Grimes to give the Great Dismal Swamp Canal another chance! It is a favorite part of the Waterway for many folks.
A SALTY SOUTHEAST CRUISERS’ NET SPONSOR, the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center lies along the eastern banks of the Dismal Swamp Canal at statute mile 28.
We traveled southbound in August, 2012, at < 6 knots with two of us on the flybridge looking for debris in the water. We hit no fewer than 5 submerged objects. Fortunately, our hull sustained no damage, but we will not venture into the Dismal Swamp Canal again. We saw numerous floating logs tied to brush along the bank with flimsy rope.
Capt. David Grimes
Skipper Shick is correct, Mile Marker Zero Marine Suppiles has moved, but, as Bob McBride’s reply clarifies, they are moving across the river to Norfolk and we certainly like the prospect of the plans he is making at Waterside in Norfolk. His current website is still active: milemarker0marinesupplies.com/.
The store at this address (1 High Street) has closed. They are rumored to have moved to 607 High Street (a few blocks away), but I saw no marine store there and their phone is answered by an answering machine.
6/6/2014 Here’s an update from owner Bob McBride:
Yes we are moving to Norfolk at the waterside marina. The city of Norfolk is redoing the waterside marina. They are expanding their docks to handle much larger boats. They are putting in a fuel dock.
They are renovating the festival area with food and drink and entertainment.they are building a bldg at the end of Joe’s Crab Shack. It will house the laundry,showers and rest rooms for the boaters staying at the marina.we are really looking forward to being there. We feel there is a strong need for a marine supply store in downtown Norfolk since west marine closed three. We are doing e-commerce out of a warehouse. We deliver to the boats at no charge.
We contacted Bob from Marker 0 the week of May 9 to order a new fan.
He has closed his store on Hi(h Street but is still in business. He delivered our fan to our boat in the basin in Portsmouth, telling us that he is going to have a new store across the Elizabeth River by the Waterside Marina. We’re not sure when he will open there.
Chris & Durene Zinglemann
From Rule 35 of the USCG Navigation Center for Inland vessels:
(a) When power-driven vessels are in sight of one another and meeting or crossing at a distance within half a mile of each other, each vessel underway, when maneuvering as authorized or required by these Rules:
(i) shall indicate that maneuver by the following signals on her whistle:
one short blast to mean “I intend to leave you on my port side”;
two short blasts to mean “I intend to leave you on my starboard side”;
three short blasts to mean “I am operating astern propulsion”.
(ii) upon hearing the one or two blast signal of the other shall, if in agreement, sound the same whistle signal and take the steps necessary to effect a safe passing. If, however, from any cause, the vessel doubts the safety of the proposed maneuver, she shall sound the danger signal specified in paragraph (d) of this Rule and each vessel shall take appropriate precautionary action until a safe passing agreement is made.
(d) When vessels in sight of one another are approaching each other and from any cause either vessel fails to understand the intentions or actions of the other, or is in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other to avoid collision, the vessel in doubt shall immediately indicate such doubt by giving at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle. [Such | This] signal may be supplemented by at least five short and rapid flashes.
Remember that “Port” and “Starboard” always refer to your vessel.
Our thanks to the AGLCA and the Burkes for this good advice and reminder to review the Rules of the Road!
We live on the waterway just south of Mile Marker “0″ and in the last week there have been two occasions of “five” whistles by passing tugs pushing barges. The Southbound tugs sounded signals at approaching Northbound cruisers. Each event was started by the tugs sounding appropriate passing whistle signals . . . the cruisers ignored the proposal, and the five whistle signals followed. Vessels passed very close, fortunately there were no mishaps. Norfolk is a very busy place and as the summer season is soon to begin, and, with the looper meeting taking place here in Norfolk, please know that we urge every boater to monitor channel 13 in the Harbor and to talk early to approaching large ships and tugs. Call them on 13 as soon as you see them. They will work with you and like very much to hear you on the radio, channel 13. They then know you see them, have a better feeling regarding your competence, all resulting in understanding and a reduction in everyone’s level of concern. Be sure you have a clear correct understanding of the Rules concerning One Whistle and Two Whistle passing. Be safe out there.
Charlie & Bonnie Burke
M/V SONATA (GB42 Ocean Marine Portsmouth)
IMHO it is not wise to use actual horn signals. Commercial vessels rely on radio communication and they are unlikely to be able to hear your puny horn–use VHF channel 13! Other pleasure boaters may be able to hear your horn, but 90+% won’t know what it means and it will just cause anger/confusion. Instead, first try contacting the other boat on the VHF–usually channel 16 works for pleasure boats. Failing that, assume the other boat may do something unexpected and don’t try to cut it close in a narrow channel until you know it is safe to pass. If you do get a horn blast from another boat it often means “pull over to your starboard, I’m coming through” irregardless of what the actual horn signal means. So if you hear one blast from astern and you see a fast boat coming up don’t immediately swing to port! The chances are very good they don’t understand what one horn blast means.
I have noticed that from Louisiana to Florida’s west coast, most recreational boaters, and all commercial skippers use the terms “one or two whistles” according to the rules. On the east coast from Florida to NC, most recreational boaters say I am passing you on the port or starboard side, which can be very unclear in an overtaking situation. Is this a regional thing? Also, I have handled court cases involving boating accidents, and disregarding the proper sound signals will certainly work against you in that venue.
Due to major construction, the Gilmerton Highway Bridge, with a closed vertical clearance of 35ft, which crosses the Waterway just south of Norfolk at statute mile 5.8, has been under opening restrictions for over three years. After many, many Local Notices and updates, the bridge has returned to an almost normal operating schedule with updated exceptions listed in an earlier posting: http://cruisersnet.net/?p=137376
VA – ELIZABETH RIVER – SOUTHERN BRANCH – GILMERTON BRIDGE/DOMINION BLVD BRIDGE – CHANNEL RESTRICTIONS
Gilmerton Bridge: From 6:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. daily until August 3, 2014, two barges are occupying the entire channel at the Gilmerton Bridge for demolition work leaving no clearance for safe passage of vessels. Mariners needing to pass must provide a two-hour advanced notice by calling the bridge tender at (757)485-5488 or via VHF channel 13. Additionally, the Gilmerton Bridge continues to operate per 33 Code of Federal Regulations 117.997(j) for mariners needing a bridge opening. An environmental containment cell around the pier and its fender system will be in place until the project’s conclusion on or about August 3, 2014 to facilitate additional demolition work. The containment cell is rigidly connected to the existing bridge fender with its own fender system consisting of 8 inch x 8 inch timber bumpers with recessed connections, thereby reducing the bridge’s horizontal clearance from approximately 125 feet to 124 feet. Dominion Blvd Bridge: McClain Contracting has a barge occupying 50% of the 125ft wide Channel until approx May 9. This restriction will occur on high tide and will last approx 4 hours every 2 to 3 days. A 24 hour advanced notice will be provided via VHF FM Channel 16/22A. Chart: 12253. 17/14
AICW – Elizabeth River Southern Branch – Gilmerton (vertical-lift) Bridge – The telephone number at the
drawbridge has changed to (757) 485-5488.
We are very pleased to help promote the soon to be released third installment in Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net’s strategic partners, Skippers Chuck Baier and Susan Landry’s, superb “Great Book of Anchorages” series. This fresh volume details overnight havens on the Chesapeake Bay and its many tributaries. But, hey, why listen to me, when you can read the news directly from Susan and Chuck!
Sarasota, Florida – March 11, 2014 – Publishers Chuck Baier and Susan Landry announce the release of the third installment in “The Great Book Of Anchorages” series. The Chesapeake Bay, Including The Potomac River encompasses anchorages along the Chesapeake and its tributaries from Chesapeake City in the north to Lynnhaven Inlet on the southern Bay and includes both the eastern and western shores plus the Potomac River.
“The Great Book Of Anchorages” series is researched, published and distributed by the authors from their Marine Trader trawler, Beach House. The two previous editions in the series of anchorage books have been, Hampton Roads and Norfolk to The Florida Keys, Including The St. Johns River, released in September 2012 and The Bahamas – The Route Most Traveled, released in September 2013. “The Great Book Of Anchorages” was conceived to fill a void in most cruising guides, the lack of significant anchorage information. The information contained in “The Great Book Of Anchorages, The Chesapeake Bay” is the result of the authors boating experience on the Bay spanning over 40 years. The books are designed to be a supplement to a boater’s favorite cruising guide and not a replacement.
This will be a series of six anchorage books that will encompass the waterways of the eastern United States and a special edition covering the Bahamas. The Chesapeake Bay, Including the Potomac River edition is available to the boating community now at https://www.tgboa.com/products and will soon be available from select online retailers and locations along the waterway. The website, http://www.tgboa.com/, offers photo albums of select anchorages and interactive maps showing the locations of the anchorage photos. Additional books in the series will be the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway from Mobile, Alabama to Cape Sable, Florida, New Jersey to New York, including the Hudson River, and finally Chicago to Mobile. The order and dates of release for the additional books will depend on input and requests from the boating community.
If you would like more information on The Great Book of Anchorages series, would like to order books, or interview Chuck or Susan, call us at 713-244-4686 or email email@example.com.
Media images available on request
Susan Landry, Publisher/Author/Editor
Chuck Baier, Publisher/Author
Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, VA, is located on the west side of Town Point Reach in the Norfolk harbor, hard by Mile Zero, and has served for many Waterway cruisers as a jumping-off point for their voyage “down the ditch.” Tidewater Yacht Marina’s website is href=”http://www.tyamarina.com”>www.tyamarina.com
The link below from Tidewater Biz of Hampton Roads was sent to us by Captain John Kettlewell.
Due to major construction, the Gilmerton Highway Bridge has been under opening restrictions for over three years. After many, many Local Notices and updates, the bridge has now returned to a normal operating schedule (see below). The Gilmerton Highway Lift Bridge, with a closed vertical clearance of 35ft, crosses the Waterway just south of Norfolk at statute mile 5.8.
VA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY (AICW) – ELIZABETH RIVER (SOUTHERN BRANCH) TO THE ALBEMARLE AND CHESAPEAKE CANAL
Mariners are advised that the operating regulations set out at Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117.997(c) have been reinstated at the new Gilmerton/US13/460 (vertical-lift) Bridge, at AICW mile 5.8, across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake VA. Since 2010, the drawbridge had been operating on a temporary schedule to facilitate construction of the new vertical-lift span. New signs summarizing the requirements have been posted both upstream and downstream of the drawbridge. A copy of Public Notice 5-1323, which describes the operating regulations in detail can be obtained by writing to the above address, by calling (757) 398-6222 or by viewing the web link http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pagename=pnBridges at Public Notices for Bridges. Chart 12253 LNM 12/27/2013
REINSTATED OPERATING REGULATIONS EFFECTIVE 21 DECEMBER 2013
RUSH HOUR RESTRICTIONS MON TO FRI, EXCEPTFEDERAL HOLIDAYS
From 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Need not open. Commercial vessels must provide a two-hour advance notice for an on-demand opening.*
MON TO FRI, EXCEPT FEDERAL HOLIDAYS
From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Opens on demand for all vessels. Commercial vessels must provide a two-hour advance
notice for an on-demand opening.*
SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS AND FEDERAL HOLIDAYS
Opens on demand for all vessels.
BRIDGE WILL OPEN ON DEMAND ANYTIME FOR VESSELS CARRYING HAZARDOUS LIQUEFIED FLAMMABLE GAS OR OTHER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS; AND OPEN ON DEMAND AT ALL OTHER TIMES.
1 IF ANY VESSEL IS APPROACHING THE BRIDGE AND CANNOT REACH THE DRAW EXACTLY ON THE HALF HOUR, THE DRAW TENDER MAY DELAY THE OPENING UP TO 10 MINUTES PAST THE HALF HOUR FOR PASSAGE OF THE APPROACHING VESSEL AND ANY OTHER VESSELS THAT ARE WAITING TO PASS
2 IF THE NORFOLK & SOUTHERN RAILROAD BRIDGE #7, AT MILE 5.8 IS NOT OPENED DURING A PARTICULAR SCHEDULED OPENING FOR THE GILMERTON BRIDGE AND VESSELS WERE DELAYED, THE DRAW TENDER AT THE GILMERTON BRIDGE MAY PROVIDE A SINGLE OPENING FOR WAITING VESSELS, ONCE THE NORFOLK & SOUTHERN RAILROAD BRIDGE #7 REOPENS FOR VESSELS.
The Gilmerton Highway Lift Bridge, with a closed vertical clearance of 35ft, crosses the Waterway just south of Norfolk at statute mile 5.8. The Centerville Turnpike Bridge, with a closed vertical clearance of 4ft, crosses the Waterway at statute mile 15.2, three nautical miles south of Great Bridge Lock.
VA – ATLANTIC INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY (AICW) – ELIZABETH RIVER (SOUTHERN BRANCH) TO THE ALBERMARLE AND CHESAPEAKE CANAL
Mariners are advised that telephone numbers have changed at the new Gilmerton/US13/460 (vertical-lift) Bridge, at AICW mile 5.8, and the Centerville Turnpike/SR170 (swing) Bridge, at AICW mile 15.2, across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and across the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, both in Chesapeake VA, respectively. The new telephone numbers are as follows: for the Gilmerton Bridge – (757) 485-5488; and for the Centerville Bridge – (757) 547-3631. Technical amendments will be submitted for revision to Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 117.997(c) and (i), respectively. Chart 12253
These channel obstructions will not affect most cruisers, so this Local Notice is posted to let you be aware of the continuing construction around the Gilmerton Highway Bridge, which crosses the Waterway just south of Norfolk and has been the subject of much attention since the construction and resulting number of closures and restrictions began fall of 2012. For several months now, Cruisers’ Net has had a Navigation Alert posted for these waters.
VA – NORFOLK HARBOR – ELIZABETH RIVER-SOUTHERN BRANCH – GILMERTON BRIDGE – FENDER SYSTEM DEMOLITION/INSTALLATION
Mariners are advised that the demolition/reconstruction of the Gilmerton Bridge fender system will be ongoing from 6:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. daily until 03 August, 2014. Barges with cranes will be in the navigational channel. Vessels transiting the waterway and requiring the barges to move for safe transit must provide a two hour advance notice by calling the bridge tender at (757)-485-5488 on via VHF-FM channel 13. Chart: 12253. LNM: 50/13
The recent closure of the Great Bridge Lock, which temporarily made the AICW Dismal Swamp Canal Alternate Route the only inland option, has prompted discussion of the Dismal Swamp’s cruising characteristics, good and less than good.
I am curious as to why our members are concerned about the Great Bridge Lock being closed. There is enough water and the locks are open on the Dismal Swamp Canal and the passage is prettier than the Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal. We have traversed both many times and prefer the Dismal.
It’s true that there are more marinas on the C and A and you may have to run a generator at Elizabeth City or at the anchorage above the E. C. bridge but the distance is the same for each passage. True the lower Pasquotank River is open to the wind but then so is Currituck Sound.
Jim, rarely do I disagree with you, but this time I do! It cost us a pretty penny last time we went through and we’ve been there and done that, and we now prefer the Virginia Cut. OHH and BTW it appears that the Great Bridge Lock is open again. No word on whether it is permanently fixed or what, but right now they are operating on a normal schedule!
The recent closure of the Great Bridge Lock, which temporarily made the Dismal Swamp Canal AICW Alternate Route the only inland option, prompted this discussion of the Dismal Swamp versus the North Carolina – Virginia Cut (a. k. a. the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal) on the AGLCA Forum.
Obviously each boater makes their own decisions but the Dismal is my absolute preference over the Va Cut. that said I am a shallow draft boat (3′) and have keel protected props. I have found that there are different risks for both routes depending upon your individual boat. We always thump something coming thru the Dismal but so far no damage, and also the Pungo for that matter. The Va Cut bridges are difficult for us to time, as we are a slow boat so we are often waked badly by inconsiderate captains on large yachts transiting the Va. Cut making a schedule. There is commercial traffic on the cut as well and the long narrow channel reach across the Carrituck Sound in weather can be a real bear. I also find that the approaches to the bridges on the upper end of the Virginia Cut has it’s dangers with the stumps lining that narrow channel. Often not visible until they poke out from a wake trough.
So for us the very protected easy relaxing transit of the Dismal is the attraction and it has many more anchoring/docking options than the cut. When weather blocks the crossing of the Albemarle we often hang out at Elizabeth’s (sometimes referred to as Robert’s) Dock between the Swing bridge and the deep creek lock chamber. Deep water extremely protected free dock with easy walking to the town that has everything the cruiser could require in the adjacent shopping Center. No electric and sometimes you can get water if the tap is on. We prefer this spot to trying to jam into Elizabeth City among a backlog of boats trying to wait a weather window.
Again the decision is of course dependent upon your situation and boat.
cruise safe, stay warm but have fun
We agree whole heartedly in preferring the Dismal Swamp route over the Dreadful Currituck Sound route. In our dozen cruises along the east coast we’ve visited the canal 10 times (leaving 2 for the Dreadful route). Same reasons mentioned in the above article, plus the canal and the river leading to it from Elizabeth City is beautiful and unhurried. We’ve never had an issue with our four foot draft. The new nature center is worth a visit.
Bob McLeran/Judy Young
Absolutely agree with the comments above. Add that a visit with Robert Peak, lockmaster at Deep Creek is one of the pleasures of the trip. For a small adventure, take the dinghy, canoe or kayak up the feeder ditch, use the marine railway to get it to lake level and enjoy the almost perfect roundness and natural beauty of Lake Drummond (just be sure to note a landmark so you can find your way back off the lake).
If you visit the state park and walk or bicycle on the trails, take seriously the warning about Lyme disease carrying deer ticks. We didn’t and had multiple tick bites resulting in a round of antibiotics when we reached home a few days later.
Latest Openings Update as of 11/24/13:
From: “Scussel, Joel F NAO”
The damaged chamber valve to the Great Bridge Lock in Chesapeake, Virginia has been isolated. Lockings have returned to the normal opening schedule 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The width of the lock has been temporary reduced from 72 feet to 70 feet due to the installation of a coffer dam on the north east lock wall. Vessels shall proceed at a low speed and provide a wide berth at the coffer dam. The coffer dam is marked on the lock wall with an angle iron structure and yellow paint.
Great Bridge locks open on demand, but works in conjunction with the Great Bridge Bridge openings. Vessel operators may contact the Great Bridge Lock at 757-547-3311 if additional locking information is required. Lock and bridge operators will monitor Channel 13.
Army Corps of Engineers