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Salty Southeast
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Archive For: VA to NC Line Cruising News

  • Good Words for Locals in Portsmouth, VA, AICW Mile One

    Portsmouth, VA is at Mile One of the AICW, directly across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. Ocean Marine Yacht Center is located just 1/2-mile south of mile marker zero. The Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery is located on the river front adjacent to the High Street Landing

    Stayed a couple of days at Ocean Marine Yacht Center. The owner of the Commodore Theater on High St. was exceptionally helpful. We planned on attending Secretariat and have dinner at the theater…both highly recommended. The owner Fred went out of his way. We asked where a Radio Shack was so we could buy a tv coaxial cable. He said “I will make you one….no problem…go have a cup a coffee and come back”…we did and he had ready a 50 ft cable…no charge….I insisted and we made a contribution and attended his historical theatre the next night…..outstanding….also the nautical store on the waterfront adjacent is very cool and extremely helpful and a friend of cruisers.
    Captain Pierre McCormick

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Ocean Marine Yacht Center

    Click Here To View an Earlier Posting on Ocean Marine Yacht Center

  • Cautions for the Gilmerton Bridge, Norfolk, VA, AICW Statute Mile 5.8

    Cruisers attempting to transit Norfolk waters during rush hour are very familiar with the Gilmerton Bridge and its neighbor the Norfolk Southern RR bridge. In addition to the warning below, John Kettlewell’s Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook includes this warning:
    “Caution: Channel bends at bridge and approaching traffic may not be visible.”

    Be very careful approaching the Gilmerton Bridge southbound at sunrise. We were blinded this morning–couldn’t see the markers, the bridge or our chart plotter screen. We went aground and saw 3 other boats behind us make the same mistake! There’s also a construction barge in front of the bridge which makes it more difficult to see.
    Captain Harriet Hardy

    Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s VA to NC Line Bridge Directory Listing For the Gilmerton Bridge

    Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Gilmerton Bridge

  • GREAT Source for Portsmouth, Virginia Cruising News

    I have reviewed Captain Joe’s “blog” which is linked below. It’s really more of a web site, with a WEALTH of information for any cruiser calling at Portsmouth. Give it a look!

    Hi Claiborne ,
    Would you post this link to our blog Welcome to Mile Marker “0” AICW? I will writing often to inform boaters traveling the ICW about upcoming events, restaurants, stores, shopping, and where to buy everything from groceries to boat parts and how to get to them here in Portsmouth, Virginia.

    We will also be publishing a FREE Boaters Guide to Portsmouth, VA. (available fall 2010)
    Thank you,
    Joe Elder

  • Anchorages Near Hampton Roads, Virginia

    There has been a very informative information exchange on the MTOA (Marine Trader Owners Association) List-Serve this weekend (5/15/20 to 5/16/10) about where to anchor near Hampton Roads, VA. We have copied some of these excellent messages below.
    By the way, let’s be very clear about this. All of us at the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net highly recommend membership in the MTOA for all who cruise under power. If you don’t already know, membership in the MTOA has long been thrown wide open to owners of all types and brands of vessel. Long-gone are the days when this organization’s ranks were filled exclusively by Marine Trader trawler owners.
    Anyway, we don’t think there is a better owner’s organization going today than MTOA! Why not join!?

    We are traveling north to the Chesapeake and would like to bypass the Norfolk-Portsmouth marinas in favor of an anchorage. Does anyone have any recommendations in the Hampton, VA area ?… the cruising guides are fairly thin with recommendations. Visually there appears to be a large ‘basin’ off Old Point Comfort similar to Marine Stadium in Miami. Does anyone anchor in the basin?
    Betty Robinson
    aboard M/V LiLi

    Other than Hampton you might like to look at Willoughby Bay on Chart 12222. Look at NE side.
    Carl Hibbard

    We usually anchor next to the the bridge up in the channel next to Fort Monroe between the bridge and the hospital. This is the bridge on the northern side of the bridge tunnel.

    Hi Betty,
    Go into Hampton and go past the city marina beyond the bridge. The charts don’t show any depths there but you can anchor safely in 12′ of water. Or utilize the Hampton YC for $1/ft. They don’t take reservations but it’s 1st come/1st served on any of their ‘T’ heads.
    Jim Fisher

    Portsmouth has a great FREE overnight spot right downtown. fyi
    Bill Feller
    Knot Tide Down

    I have some years ago. There is a lot of large and small boat traffic. The wakes are fierce.
    John Zalusky,

    Traveling north, just before the shipping terminal, there is a small inlet taking you East that leads to the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club. There is about 10′ feet of water to the NY&CC and room to anchor to the south of their club docks. If you choose to use the NY&CC they charged 1.50/ft to other yacht club members. You will need evidence of membership, membership card or paid receipt, credit card and picture ID. The meals are great and reasonable in the After Deck, showers with warm towels and a bus ride to downtown Norfolk. Hard to beat after a long turn in the Intercostal.
    John Zalusky,

    I wouldn’t take Lili into the downtown “free” docks in Portsmouth if I were you. Lot of ferry traffic and You are pretty big for this area. If
    you decide to look for a marina instead, we can recommend Salt Pond marina in Hampton. It’s on the bay side of things and not far off the path you will take. Very well protected with pool , easy access, and good pricing.
    We left Second Star there for two weeks to go home a while back.
    See you on the Water!
    Michael La Porte

    We’ve spent one good and one terrible night in the Mill Creek anchorage between the bridge and the fort. Memory is that there is little protection from surge in one direction, but it was a long time ago. I can’t remember the specific problem.
    Bad experience would eliminate this anchorage from our list.
    We use north end of Hampton River. You go under a bridge which filters out the sailboats into a very nice anchorage which could likely accommodate a dozen boats. Use of the City’s dock is free. Post office, pubs, this and that, easy walk from city dock.
    Protection is excellent from all directions.
    Another anchorage is Lafayette River. We’ve used this three times. Other than distance off the Waterway, if you go well beyond the bridge, there’s good holding and adequate room, moderate protection.
    Our only serious anchor drag over recent years was in Chismun Creek. Winds were 70 knots++. 44 lb Delta. We dragged about a 1/4 mile. Problem, which seems not uncommon in the bay is that the bottom can be 18 inches of silt or muck on top of hard-pan. Plows find their way down to the hard-pan and then skate along it as you drag downwind.
    We think that is what happened there. If we were to do it again, I think we’d try the West Performance which is a very stiff Danforth type.
    Testimony to this problem (silt on hard-pan) is the frequency with which we have to reset or try the other anchor in the bay. We back down on each try and with some force. No matter what Bruce Van Sant thinks about this, if you’ve backed down, you know it will hold in at least one direction.
    john ferguson
    m/v arcadian

    Use of Hampton’s City dock free to dinghys, not the big boat
    john ferguson
    m/v arcadian

    My thanks to all who provided advice on Hampton Roads anchorages. We ended up in the basin which was quite rolly-polly until past sundown. Everyone’s suggestions were so good that I look forward to visiting Hampton Roads .
    Safe travels…
    Betty Robinson
    on board M/V LiLi

  • Centerville Bridge (AICW Statute Mile 15.2) To Be Periodically Restricted During April, 2010

    The notice below was received from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association on 4/7/10.

    Mariners are advised that the Coast Guard has approved a temporary deviation to restrict the operation of the Centerville Turnpike (SR170) Bridge, at AIWW mile 15.2, across the Albemarle and ChesapeakeCanal in Chesapeake, VA. To facilitate structural repairs to the movable span, the Drawbridge will be allowed to open every two hours for vessels requiring an opening on the following schedule:
    A. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, 2010, until and including 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, 2010; and
    B. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, 2010, until and including 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 18, 2010.
    C. Saturday openings at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m.
    D. Sunday openings at midnight, 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.
    E. At all other times, the drawbridge will operate in accordance with the operating regulations set out in Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations Part 117.997(i). Mariners should adjust their transits accordingly and use extreme caution when transiting the area. Chart: 12253.

  • Gilmerton Highway Bridge (Statute Mile 5.8)

    The Gilmerton Highway Bridge does not open during peak traffic times in the morning and afternoon (follow link below for exact schedule). Captain John had e-mailed and asked what this span’s opening schedule was during the day, between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm. I answered that as far as I could tell the bridge opened on demand during these hours. His note below confirms my findings.

    Hi Claiborne,
    Thanks for the quick response!
    I did find a phone # for the Gilmerton Highway Bridge. I just spoke with them and they confirmed that between 08.30 and 15.30, they open on request.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Click Here To View the VA to NC Line’ Net Bridge Directory Listing For The Gilmerton Highway Bridge

  • Jordan Bridge Operation Regulations Removed (Statute Uile 2.8)

    Effective October 15,2009, mariners are advised that the Coast Guard has removed the drawbridge operation regulations for the Jordan (S337) Bridge, at AIWW mile 2.8, across the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake VA. Since the vertical-lift span of the bridge was removed on May 6, 2009, a special operating regulation for a movable bridge is unnecessary. A copy of the Docket USCG-2009-0814 published in the Federal Register on October 15,2009, as a final rule isincluded as enclosure (1) to this notice.

  • Gilmerton Lift Bridge Weekend Restrictions Lifted (St. M. 5.8)

    I will be coming through this area of the ICW Nov. 14, I just called the number above to inquire about the restricted schedule and was told all work was complete and that they have returned to normal operations. Can anyone confirm this?

    Subject: Gilmerton Bridge (mile 5.8)
    Cruising News: I just contacted the bridge tender at the Gilmerton Bridge (VA, mile 5.8) about the scheduled weekend restrictions. He said all work has been completed and the Gilmerton will be opening on request this weekend.
    s/v Yoohoo

  • Hospital Point Anchorage (Statute Mile 0.3)

    I received the following query on 9/30/09:

    I think I read that the Hospital Point anchorage had been dredged, or at least was deeper now than previously. Any validity to that info?
    m/v Crackerjack

    I then contacted Captain Allan DeWall, a long time contributor to the Cruisers’ Net, who lives in the Norfolk, VA region. Captain Allan was good enough to supply the following info!

    I pulled up this proposal for dredging the Norfolk Harbor Channel from the U.S. Army Engineer District, Norfolk, web page ( – the added notation on the figure for the location of the Hospital Point Anchorage.
    I then called the Tidewater Marina (757-393-2525/888-390-0080) which is located on the south side of the anchorage and asked about any dredging. The woman answering told me that no dredging has occurred in the Hospital Point Anchorage and she was not aware of any plans to do so.
    Hope this helps!
    Allan DeWall
    S/V Cat Rageous

    Captain Allan went on to say, in a telephone conversation, that he anchors in these waters all the time with his 4-foot draft, and does not encounter any difficulty. However, he also allowed that a vessel with a 6-foot draft might be a different matter entirely.

    We anchored at Hospital Point on 9-24-09 and found 6.5′ at low tide at a locaton well away from the red channel marker. A very comfortable spot.
    Earl Goodwin

    I just spoke with friends who passed through the Norfolk/Portsmouth area earlier this summer. They were able to anchor off Hospital Point (waiting for lat/long) despite drawing almost 7′. It’s my understanding that, in fact, they still had 2′ under the keel. We’ll be in the area in a few days and will report first hand on how we fare with 6′ of draft.
    Rick Emerson

    There is deep water closer to the point and, no surprise, closer to the channel. We could have anchored in anything from 10′ to more than 20′ with no difficulty. We opted to spend the night at Waterside, based on the forecast strong winds from the NE.
    Rick Emerson

  • Transient Dockage Available in the Norfolk, VA Region

    Subject: Transient Dockage
    Cruising News: Transient dockage available at 4 Norfolk marinas – Bay Point, Little Creek, Vinings Landing & Willoughby Harbor Mairnas. $2/ft/night – 25% off Boat US, Sea Tow or Marina Life membership card. Weekly & Monthly rates also available. Visit / / for more info. Airport, rental cars, grocery, restaurants and more are all within 10 mins from marinas at the most.

    Little Creek & Bay Point Marinas – 757.362.3600
    Vinings Landing Marina – 757.587.8000
    Willoughby Harbor Marina – 757.583.4130

    If you stay with us for a day or a month you can received $1.00/ft/night at Skull Creek Marina (Hilton Head, SC) and receive access to the local country club, restaurant, pool & more. Ask for more details when you stay with us in Norfolk…
    We look forward to seeing you whether your vessel is 20′ or 100′.

  • Free Dockage South of of Jordan Bridge (Statute Mile2.8)

    The old Jordan Bridge (thank heavens) is being demolished quite quickly and will be replaced by a high span bridge maybe by end 2010. Going south, immediately after the bridge on the east side is a 100 ft free dock in 7ft water adjacent to a small public park with boat ramp. Porta Potty toilets but no water, power or fuel. A nice little place for a couple of days. Friendly locals catching crabs or you can just sit under cover for a picnic. Shops and an excellent hardware store are within walking distance in Beverly ‘“ you need a bike at least to get to a full size grocery store (both Farm Fresh and Food Lion). Opposite the dock is a 100ft steel island general cargo ship ‘“ built over the last 10 years by one man who lives aboard! Amazing what people can do given the motivation’¦’¦..
    Arnold Parkinson

  • Great Mechanic in Reedville, VA

    Subject: Great Mechanic in Reedville, VA
    Cruising News: We recently had to stop in Reedville, VA to have some work done on our generator. We found a great mechanic (Elmer Pittman at Pittman Marine Diesel). He came to our boat the same day we called, removed the starter on our generator, sent it out to be rebuilt and had us ready to go two days later. We had expected to be laid up for at least a week waiting on parts. You just don\\\’t find service like this! And he is very reasonably priced
    Walter Smith

  • “Reasonably Priced” Marinas in Norfolk, VA Area

    The discussion below is copied from the T&T (Trawlers and Trawlering) List. For those looking to find reasonably priced marinas in or near Norfolk, VA, this is invaluable data.

    Looking for a reasonably priced marina in the Norfolk VA. area to leave our boat for a week with good access to rental car.
    Ray and Linda Corrette

    Ray & Linda
    You could try the city Marina in Hampton VA enterprise has an office on site we stayed there on our way north. Price was very good as I remember
    Larry & Margie Ross

    If you can leave boath there for a week the Hampton City Marina will be hard to beat in that area. If not we have found Ocean Marine in Portsmith to be one of the better priced especially with Boat US. May be some better simply for leaving a boat however.
    Howard H Cole
    aboard the C Horse

    We stayed at Salt Ponds Marina in Norfolk, excellent price, very sheltered, and a nice overall place.

    Salt Ponds Marina is in Hampton rather than Norfolk. It is quite protected for leaving a boat, but no close car rental agencies. There are several Enterprise offices in Hampton and one of them might be able to pick you up there.
    Bev MacMahon

    i just got in Portsmouth Boating Center, dockage is $1.25 a ft per day which is pretty good’¦
    Friendly folks and usually cheapest fuel in the area too’¦

  • New Restaurant At Atlantic Yacht Basin

    Subject: New Restaurant
    Cruising News: While at Atlantic Yacht Basin you have a new restaurant available. Chili’s has very recently opened. Also, Farm Fresh Grocery and a
    restaurant called Court House Cafe will come and get you and brind you back.
    Capt Dave
    on board At Last, GB46

  • Great Bridge Park Under Reconstruction

    Subject: Grerat Bridge Park
    Cruising News: The recreation facility and park just south of the Great Bridge Bridge is now having the land cleared in preparation for construction. Docks still in place but no one is using them as of 8/29/09
    David Jenkins

  • Tidewater Marina

    We have stayed at Tidewater three times and enjoyed it. Very well run marina. And to visit Norfolk, the ferry stop is just a short walk away.
    James Lea

  • Free Dockage Near Great Bridge, VA Lock

    The lock at Great Bridge, VA is the only lock on the so-called, North Carolina – Virginia Route of the AICW. Of course, this is what I would term the “primarly” passage that most cruisers use to pass between Virginia and North Carolina waters, or the other way around. Of course, the other possible passage is by way of the Dismal Swamp Canal Route.
    I am no expert on the Great Bridge lock, but my memory is that it’s larger than the two Dismal Swamp Canal locks, and it only raises or lowers your craft a few feet. It also operates far more frequently than its Dismal Swamp counterpart.
    Below, once again, Captain Arnold give us all some great advice on where to find some seriously cheap dockage near Great Bridge!

    Since you cover the Dismal Swamp you presumably mention the Great Bridge Lock on the shorter route. There also is a great free docking in the approach between lock and bridge on the south side (going south) which they say is limited to 24hrs but nobody objects if you stay longer. Many shops / groceries are within easy walking distance and the Farm Fresh grocery store manager will run you back to the dock. The Veteran Club there will give you fresh veggies from their vegetable garden if you gratiously make a small donation for the kids they support.

    I agree with Arnold – the dock between the lock and the bridge is great (no pun intended). Just a few of notes: 1) Make sure you pull as far forward as possible when you dock. It can get busy here, 2) If you plan on only stopping for a few hours, remember that the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge stops opening at 7pm, 3) Expect wake from barges and tugs passing very close, and 4) There is no power to hook up to. Outside of that, there is plenty of shopping, including a grocery, within walking distance. If you continue past the bridge (when going southbound/eastbound), there is another free dock on the north side of the ICW. It’s not in as good shape, but you won’t get stuck with the opening. Also, it adds about another 1/4 mile to your shopping walk since you have to cross the bridge on foot to get to the shopping areas. If you’ve done an overnight run down the Chesapeake from Annapolis, like we did in the freezing cold of December, these free docks are a wonderful spot to stop at for the night.
    S/V Pelican

  • Overnighting Near Deep Creek Lock (Alternate AICW Dismal Swamp Route)

    As most regular visitors to the Cruisers’ Net know, my “expertise” [grin!], stops at the NC-VA state line, so I’m particularly grateful to Captain Arnold for providing the very useful tid-bit below about a possible overnight stop near the Deep Creek, VA lock. This lock and the adjacent waters are part of the AICW Alternate Dismal Swamp Canal Route. Anyone following this fascinating and historical, but sometimes challenging passage, may very well want to take advantage of this tip!

    At the top end of the Dismal Swamp route is of course Deep Creek lock with a half mile approach channel AFTER the bridge. They allow that to be used for a great hurricane hole if needs be. And about a mile after the lock is a great little circular cove to starboard which the locals call the “hole in the wall”. It has a 6ft bar at the approach but inside around 14 ft deep throughout and a good sandy holding bottom – again a good hurricane hole I would imagine – except at such a time maybe a ton of boats hiding in there…….. Strictly speaking you’re not supposed to go ashore – private property – but nobody seems to take much notice – there are no waterside homes there but they tell me a housing develpoment may be pending. The water is crystal clean – though a brown colour due to tannin not pollution. It’s a tad busy at weekends but absolutely pristine and peaceful on weekdays – you share it only with herons. Incidentally you’ll often see Bill there – the nice fellow, ex Navy, who built the dock in memory of his wife Elizabeth – canoeing – which he does fairly often for the exercise.

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