Monday, 28 November 2011

Down the Ditch

Just when I got done whining about the literal ups and downs of offshore sailing, I get smacked upside the head with the monotony of motoring through the ICW. So far it's been a drag, and I find myself itching to get out of the restricting shallows of the channel and back into the open. The going on the ICW is painfully slow. Rodeo treads through the swampy waters of North Carolina at a dizzying speed of 5 Nautical Miles per hour, so we're making our way forward in short increments of 55NM per day. 
The ICW route is a series of creeks, rivers, bays and sounds strung together with a dredged channel at their heart. The channel snakes along existing and man-made waterways, joining them to form the 1,090 mile stretch from Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL. Current part of the ICW is carved into barely inhabited wilderness. Walls of cedar trees bound to each bank, and patches of tall marshes, encroaching on the water before them, stage the backdrop. We go past an occasional settlement or slide under a busy bridge that trails off towards civilization, somewhere beyond the tree-line, but for the most part the ICW is a quiet and lonely place. The way is not lit and therefore treacherous at night, which means we can only cruise it during the day. It makes for slow progress, but restful nights and a proper home cooked meal at supper time. Our first night out of Norfolk, on American Thanksgiving, I cooked up some turkey legs, butter carrots, served up with potato salad from the day before, and even managed to bake a pumpkin pie for dessert. It's not so tough out there for a skipper, after all. Another perk of slowing down to drop anchor every night is enjoying spectacular sunsets. Arriving at a scheduled anchorage in time to use the last bit of daylight to maneuver around shallow inlets, and then watching the sun drip down from the wounded sky, sinking in the murky waters, along with our anchor. 

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