I’ve not been very good about updating this blog, especially with the trip up the ICW.
Vellamo was in a marina in Sneads Ferry, about mile marker 249. My buddy Tim came down to help move her up in what we initially planned as a 5 day trip.
The first day was an easy ride, about 20 miles to Swansboro. Perfect little shake down jump. Far enough to get a decent run in, close enough if something happened that we needed hauled out.
Here we ran aground the first of what I’m sure will be many times. Just a light tap, and we backed off no worries. Vellamo being a centerboard means she only draws 4′-9″ with the board up, but the ICW is unforgiving on the edges of the channels.
Tim and I discussed our plans for the trip and figured instead of 50 or 60 mile days, we could push that to 90 mile days and get in a day early. This wasn’t a pleasure cruise, it was a delivery.
This part of the ICW goes from small canal to open river/sound/bay then back to canal again, which is pretty interesting. Parts feel like you’re headed up some tiny river in a big sailboat, while other parts are pretty open like the southern part of the Chesapeake. Our second day was indicative of this as we went thru Bogue sound, past Morehead City, thru Neuse River across the Pamlico Sound and into Pungo River.
The Neuse River was the first place we could raise a sail… so we put the main up and motor sailed for a while.
Pulling up the sail let all the left over bits and pieces of birds nest drop out, which was after I had cleaned out what I could at the dock.
We anchored in a bay in the Pungo not far from Belhaven and watched a brilliant thunderstorm just off the shore. It wasn’t until 2 in the morning or so that the storm made it to us and started to kick up the wind. We started the engine as a precaution but as we were the only one in this little bay we had a massive amount of scope out on our anchor and never dragged an inch.
The next day we were up early again with a target of Elizabeth City. We shot thru the canal into the Alligator River and into the Albemarle Sound. The breeze was behind us so we opted not to sail, which turned out to be a good thing… we cut the ICW track by several miles because we had the water for it, but that set us up for 3 hours of crab pot watch. It’s impressive the number of pots in this area.
We ended up making it the 90 or so miles to Elizabeth City where we tied up to the sea wall by the park which is a bit of a weird experience. The dog immediately jumped off to go roll around in some grass. This was our first night without an actual storm hitting us, even though it seemed one was following us up the river to Elizabeth City the whole time.
The final day we set off up the Dismal Swamp… which had to be named during biting fly season. It was ridiculously hot, and the boat was covered in biting flies, there was no escape, and they hurt!
This is a pretty typical Dismal Swamp scene. We bumped one log, dodged 1 turtle who acted like he owned the thing, and hit one tree while dodging another log. We were told we hit a bunch of trees, but it’s pretty open, and as we didn’t run into much traffic, you’re more likely to hit a tree while attempting to smash the flies that are biting you or because you’re watching the scenery pass and not looking forward.
Thanks to the crew, we made it in what must be record time… at least record time for us. We did the whole trip with an iPad charting (chart plotter wouldn’t see the gps for some reason) and a depth sounder that only worked when we didn’t need it. The autopilot did however work brilliantly… as you can see by the following photos of the crew steering.