Buggy Gunk-hole to a Maritime Hub: Bucks Island to Hampton on the ICW

Hampton, VA – It sounded like a swarm of hornets had taken up residence in our cockpit when Allan opened the companionway door at 6:15 this morning.

Aquatic midges swarmed our cockpit overnight

Thousands of aquatic midges, aka “blind” mosquitoes blanketed the ceiling of our bimini, the cockpit table, cushions, and every other flat surface.

Reviews for our Bucks Island ¬†anchorage had mentioned that bugs could sometimes be an issue, with one reviewer using a Steven King horror movie analogy. Yesterday, that seemed like hyperbole, this morning it was spot-on. After Googling, we now know the bugs’ season runs April-November.

While Allan hoisted the anchor solo and got us underway, I stayed below eradicating the dozens of annoying bugs that had flown inside when the door was opened.

It took the next two hours to clear most of the bugs from the cockpit. Despite liberal use of Clorox wipes, an unfortunate amount of green staining will require attention once we make it to our home port this week. An insignificant problem compared to what people are going through in Houston, so we count our blessings.

A view of the North Landing River

Once underway, the ICW was much curvier today, with a few channel markers popping up that were not on our charts (and the channel deviating from the chart as well). We opted to follow the markers, closely watching our depth readings as we went.

A tug pushing a barge with bridge pieces

We also saw more traffic on the water today than any other day, including commercial traffic and our first boat traffic “jam” at the North Landing swing bridge at mile marker 20.2. Until today, we’ve usually been the only boat passing through on an opening.

Through early afternoon, the scenery shifted from the gray, open waters of the Currituck Sound, to swaying grass banks, to tall, dense stands of trees along the North Landing River. The wind was stronger than forecast, blowing between 18 and 20 knots, mostly on our nose, for most of the day.

Handling the bow line on the Great Bridge Lock

We made it through the Great Bridge Lock with a minimal wait – our “first” lock experience – and were done with the last of the ICW bridgekeeper-staffed bridges by early afternoon.¬†Our last, the Gilmerton Highway Bridge, lifted straight up, the only bridge of its kind we passed beneath on our route.

The Naval hospital ship “Comfort”

The scenery soon changed to an industrial landscape. We passed beneath higher bridges, alongside a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, many large cranes and holding tanks, a Navy warship “69”, wearing a good amount of white plastic wrap, the Naval Hospital ship “Comfort,” and countless more. We wished we had time to linger and explore the Norfolk area.

We’re in Virginia tonight

After 11 hours, we pulled into a Hampton anchorage and dropped our hook twice. The first time we ended up too close to a beautiful Moody 44, so we opted to lift anchor and motor a bit further toward the I-64 bridge.

The Chesapeake Bay is practically on our doorstep, and tomorrow we aim to make as much headway north as we can. With Hurricane Irma potentially heading toward the East Coast, we’ll be pushing to have Vinyasa cleaned, emptied out, winterized and on the hard by COB Friday.

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