Coinjock NC to Great Bridge VA

Coinjock NC to Great Bridge VA

Coinjock Marina, Coinjock,NC to The Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge, VA 

7/6 & 7/18

From Coinjock we continued through the North River, which was a surprisingly wide expanse of shallow water with a thin edge of land all around. Located west of the Outer Banks, the river narrowed and became the The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, which we followed until we got to the Atlantic Yacht basin Marina at Great Bridge, Va. On a map it looked like we were on a pencil line inland running east to west.  

Psychologically, it was nice to feel we were making progress getting into another state. The next bump up would be getting onto the Chesapeake —our “home” waters. Even if we had to anchor out in 90+ degree weather, we were all but home. 

There was absolutely nothing remarkable about the day.  In fact, that was what was remarkable on The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal: I didn’t see any birds and only a few of the same kind of wildflowers on the shore. There didn’t even seem to be mosquitoes, which was very nice. There were few other boats or houses. We were sole cruisers in the wild, but a lot of the “wild” had been taken away. Again, the people who came before us had cut down all the slow-growing cypress, burned out the fields, and made a long, narrow “cut” through the natural swamp.  

With no other attention-getting things, I took this of the clouds:

“Yes, Fluffy went to Heaven”

An oncoming barge filled the passage under the narrow bridge, but Tom had timed it correctly to avoid the squeeze.  This is a recurring problem, and we have wondered how other, larger boats made it past some of these barges scraping along such a narrow river. It would be difficult to back up after meeting one and the barges cannot get out of the way, either. 

We passed by some little clusters of houses and an old repair yard, where I spotted a relic I dubbed “Ironman”, who had been hard at work until sciatica hit and he rusted.



Just moments before inky blue clouds sprang up in front of us, we tied up at the Atlantic Yacht Basin Marina. It became cool and rain began and continued through the night.  Reality quickly changed our minds about this being a pleasant place to stay like Dowry Creek or Coinjock. The initial reasons for stopping here had included the elusive possibility of getting the generator fixed. This marina was a cluster of functional buildings for boat works and storage, but other than the guy who helped us dock and gave us the bathroom codes, we didn’t see anyone all day. Since it was the Saturday after the Fourth of July, we did not hear sounds of work, and the place had a deserted sense about it. The restaurants promising good food closed early or had not opened at all, so maybe all Saturdays were work-free around here. 

The big boats tied up bow to stern near us were shuttered against the rain and unapproachable, even though three were also Grand Banks and thus, like fraternity brothers. They were a 48’ and two 42’s, a very popular model, as opposed to our humble 1977, 32’, that had just enough room at the end of the pier.  

We are happy to have the smaller boat because we can usually find room at the last minute where the bigger ones can’t, get under more bridges without having them open, and find it easier to handle and maintain. Almost every day, some boat goes by and someone yells a compliment about our boat. I still think of it as “Ducky” and it looks like a toy in many of my pictures.

“Gusty Rain”

We gave ourselves a self-guided tour.  One very clean boat that looked much like a Grand Banks was painted pink and aqua with an orange stripe over a blue stripe at the water line.

“Spare Ribs” 

Personal showers were definitely needed after days of cruising in the heat. Despite the few amenities that were set out in the women’s room, it was devoid of a woman’s touch, and I gingerly searched the concrete wall corners for spiders. No one had tested the shower head lately for full operation and certainly not for comfort. The few working jets functioned like a liquid sulphur sand-blaster designed to take off caked mud layers. I worried it would blast off my hair. It was like a total-body acupuncture treatment imbedding a sulfurous stench.

I saw the water filling the shower pan as I stood on a “skid” that had been placed in the middle. When I tried to wash my feet, one flip-flop floated away and I had to chase it around to put it back on, all while balancing on one foot. I didn’t want to actually step barefoot on this shower floor possibly covered with various rare slime molds. On a hunch, I pushed the flip-flop onto the drain and used it like a plunger. The open black hole gurgled appreciation, so I did it again to a like response. Then I firmly compressed my flip flop onto the drain attempting a full Heimlich maneuver and it really opened up. The flood water receded, but I contemplated if I really wanted to continue. Would the sulphur stench last?  Would I be a restaurant pariah at lunch? No one wanted to smell rotten eggs while they ate. I imagined I emanated waves of odor during my walk of shame past the large yachts where they showered onboard with clean water from their own tanks. 

After we showered, we walked about a mile to a small strip mall with a Chili’s for lunch.  I was in my “Just off the boat” unsteady mode with a swirly, surrealistic sense of what was a straight course that makes me look like the town drunk.  I had not done much for the day, but it took a lot of time, and because it was so exhausting to shower and eat, I took a nap after listening to rain patter overhead.

“Great Bridge Bridge”  The bridge has fantastic architecture and is maintained beautifully, as many bridges were that we passed through.

“Great Bridge Lock”

A floating apartment-like yacht about 70-80 feet long named “Dreams” went by followed by “Southern Star” and two other large ones, headed toward the bridge and the lock beyond. They had no need to consider stopping for the weather or sulphur laden marina water. The silent caravan had a mystique of timelessness flowing with the water.

As we walked to a little restaurant with a great breakfast the second day at Atlantic Yacht Basin, we saw this shop cleverly named Hair Cuts by the Locks. The town has a local pride of its place in history.

Just past the bridge was our first lock to pass through on Snowbird. I can’t say I was real happy about the experience since I was holding onto a line close to little orgies of spiders and to a particular spider that seemed to toy with the idea of coming aboard along that line, and that spider looked very much like a brown recluse. Later, Tom valiantly tried to assure me that brown recluses don’t live in Virginia, but I could imagine that it had hitchhiked before and was not above being a stowaway.

Looking over the river from our perch on the fly bridge, we saw another boat with people sharing their ride with the happiest of dogs smiling from floppy ear to floppy ear.

“Dogs Don’t Wave” 

Note: Snowbird’s bow now sports a red-head “mustache” stain from the tannin in the water.