If you actually made it to the end of my last report, you would have read "I suspect that we're going to be pushing the daylight hours today." Well, that was highly prophetic. We departed the marina at 7:45 to make the first bridge which opened at 8:30. When we arrived there were probably a dozen boats in front of us. While we waited another dozen+ boats arrived. Of course many of these weren't happy maintaining their relative position in the queue, so they had to work their way forward to the front of the pack. Maintaining spacing between other boats while standing still is not the easiest thing to do as the currents and winds push you around. At various times you could hear some angry comments over the VHF radio. Eventually 8:30 arrived, the Jordan Highway bridge opened and the parade of boats headed through it.
The Gilmerton highway bridge is only 3 miles away, so everyone rushed to the next bridge which only 3 away. This reminded me of horse race in slow motion. "There's a tight pack rounding buoy 35...Splash IV pulls to the inside and passes Elation. Mint Julep threads her way past Miss Jody. Out of the back comes Interlude..." And of course we all arrived at the next bridge 10 minutes before it opened at 9:00, so we repeated the process again, but this time more of the power boats were at the front of the pack, which was fine with me.
The Steel bridge is 3 miles away, but some genius decided that this bridge should only open on the hour instead of the half hour like all of the cruising guides show. As a result everyone got there 40 minutes in advance and floated around with tempers rising. It was 10 AM before we cleared this bridge and headed for Great Bridge lock.
The lock at Great Bridge only lowers or raises your boat about 30 inches. It's purpose is to limit the water flow between the tidal waters below the lock and the the non-tidal waters above it. Most of the power boats arrived first and BlueJacket was in the middle of the pack. A big power boat snuck by us until I got on the VHF and told him that he didn't have a "go to the front of the line pass." A small sailboat did the same thing. Of course when it came time to enter the locks, there wasn't room for us. We would have made it in if those boats hadn't cut the line. Now we had to wait another hour. Tick...tick...tick...We eventually made it through at noon, but time was disappearing and we had 37 miles to go and two more bridges.
We made next set of bridges without too much delay, but then the wind started blowing hard...on the nose, which slowed us down to about 5.5 kts. The sun set at 5:08 and it was cloudy which made it get dark fast. Here we are going down a 100' wide channel in fading light. It was almost pitch black as we made the last mile or two. It's quite nerve racking to be heading down a tree lined canal in total darkness with birds calling from the woods and you're just hoping that there's nothing floating in water (like traps or the frequent logs) and that you don't run aground outside of the channel. Well, we made it and we pulled into the Midway Marina at about 6 PM. We were happy to get there!
Anyhow, today we're headed to the Alligator river marina which is only 35 miles from here. We're only going that far as there's a strong cold front coming through tonight which is going to drop the temps significantly and I don't want to be anchored out without heat and in potentially strong winds. The next stop is 85 miles from here and we just can't make that in one day.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
The Midway Marina is at mile 49.4. It's a big marina and very nice. The rates in 2006 are $1.50/ft + $3/30A + 7% tax.
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