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Southport NC to Porthsmouth VA (via the Dismal Swamp)

We left Osprey as soon as we could, after fueling up and another pump out. Our destination to Southport Marina NC, was 103.8 KMs (64.50 miles) away and we wanted to get there in time to attend the briefing hosted by the marina for those heading North, that would take place at 6 pm. We made it with time to spare, even though we did have to wait for two bridges (LOL).

The briefing provided by Hank was worth attending. He talked about the weather and what/where we should be cautious. (Hazards, tides, winds, the "Cuts" and the 'Sounds'). We left the briefing with a good handout and great info. With everything discussed, we went back to the boat and double checked our plans/stops from there to Norfolk.

Considering the info we had, we decided, that since we can go fast, we would try to make it to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, another long day of 170.9 KMs (106.19 miles) in mostly protected waters in the AICW. We left early and arrived late afternoon.  It was a good call on our part - it was a perfect place to wait out the system coming in. We got to use the courtesy car to see Beaufort NC and we got to experience Morehead's waterfront. 


We waited three days for the winds to settle down enough that we were confident we could travel and pass the Pamlico River, Pamlico Sound and the Pungo River to get to River Forest Marina at Belhaven NC (112.2 KMs / 70 miles away). Belhaven is a cute little Town that we got to explore by golf cart. 

When we got to the marina, we were the first of six transient boats to arrive (Awesome to have a go fast boat!) We weren't sure we were at the right place, the marina was empty except for two other boats.  Speaking with the Dockmaster, he told me that all the boats had left before the last hurricane and that only one came back. It's a shame, they put a lot of work into this marina, and it's an awesome place (with free laundry, renovated bathrooms, golf carts, fuel, pump out...). I am convinced that the other boats who have stopped here would agree. 


To get to Elizabeth City NC,  we had to travel 142.9 KMs (89 miles) of mostly big water - the Alligator River and the Albermarle Sound. We found the Alligator River very "choppy" and uncomfortable - the wind was just not in our favor. However, once we got to the Albermarle Sound, the winds died down and shifted to work with us for a nice ride to Mariners Wharf, one of the free docks in Town.



We arrived early enough to have a chance to walk around the water front. It's a cute little town with a nice welcome center that also has a free museum. It was a fun stop for us, we got to hang out a bit with other Loopers we met along the way (MV Magic & MV Late Harvest). (Note: Late Harvest is another Canadian couple doing the Loop, they left from Orilia, ON)

We wanted to do the Dismal Swamp Canal, and we are super happy that we did. It reminded us a lot of the canals back home (well, certain stretches of them 😉) We stayed at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center free dock and had the opportunity to stretch our legs by visiting the museum and walking one of the trails. We were warned that it's tick season so we made sure to stay on the boardwalk. Papi was on the lookout for snakes or any other critter he could see....   



We saw giant dragon flies, water snakes and lots of turtles sunning themselves. Papi kept looking for fairies and unicorns, LOL... It was very scenic and serene, it was so easy to imagine all sorts of things and we could easily understand where and how "legends" start.


After the Dismal Swamp Canal, the Norfolk harbor was chaotic! Barges, work boats, battle ships, construction on bridges... it's a working port and very busy, and confusing at times, not really pleasant to travel in.  But, we have to admit, it is very impressive.

We stopped in Porthsmouth VA. at Tidewater Yacht Marina (just across the river from Norforlk). Since we've been here a couple times already for the Spring AGLCA Rendez-Vous, we didn't really do exploring. (unless you count checking the charts, and all the apps we could think of before we started our way up north in the Chesapeake Bay the following morning.) 

There were a few other Loopers there, Late Harvest, Magic, Norma Jean... and a couple other Canadian sailboaters, some were planning on leaving the next morning, but most were going to spend time in Portsmouth/Norfolk before continuing on.  I am sure we will meet up again - we are all going the same way!

Next up... the Chesapeake Bay! (And I have to admit... it took us by surprise a couple times!!!)

Tina & Papi

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with" 

– Charles Schultz