Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Alligator River Marina. - at a dock

There was a skim of duckweed but it was no problem at the south dock
Today I woke up to a nice plate of grapefruit, a bowl for cereal, and milk. So I ate my breakfast, put a sweatshirt on and went  up top. I read out of my book down the Dismal, and then started on my work. We did the usual work and then we were out of the Dismal swamp canal. After that we went up to the bridge, we can't get though with our sailboat so they bring the bridge up. We call the bridge on the radio and request an opening. Then the other guy called and we had to wait for him to get there for the bridge to open. That was pretty annoying when he was far behind. Then we went a ways and arrived to alligator river where were going to stay the night. We are docked with not to many boats around, and we got fueled too. Then I played with my clay making hair for my Lego character. I also made a small dog really a tiny dog and a tiny Oreo out of the clay. After we were in we took Hoolie for a walk, they have really green grass here. Were having sausage with rice, well bye got to go make more tiny figures.  Sarah    

We had quite a tangle to undo at the visitor center dock. There were seven boats in all, two deep and the boat moored to me wasn't leaving until 11:00. So I was up early since I had to leave by 7:30 to make the 8:30 opening of the lock. The outside boat backed out, we undid our lines and onward we went to the lock, three of us. We ran into some duckweed on the way but it was just a skim on the water, mostly the water was clear of it. 

One of the three boats could only do 4.5 kts, another one about 6.5 kts I guess and I normally cruise at 7.3 kts so I passed everyone coming out of the dock and headed for the Elizabeth City bridge, wanting to get there early so I could continue onward to the Alligator River Marina. I called the bridge as we approached and was asked if there were any boats behind me, I looked back and couldn't seen any for about a mile at least and replied, "No". Much to my dismay the VHF lit up with a reply from the boat we had left far behind that they were by some bridge and coming on. The bridge operator assumed he was just behind me and that I had misled him, wanting a quick opening. As it turned out, as I had thought, he was not just behind me, he was about 30 minutes behind me, over 2.5 miles at least. So I did donuts for 30 minutes waiting for him to catch up. Now this bridge is on demand. The operator didn't want to raise and lower the bridge within 5 to 10 minutes which is understandable, he never suspected the boat was so far behind. It's a two leaf bridge and the operator raised one leaf in anticipation right away while keeping the commuter traffic flowing over the other leaf. The operator got grief from commercial traffic waiting for that leaf to reclose. 

So we did circles and circles waiting for the boat to catch up, 30 minutes later. Finally the operator opened the bridge and we got through as did the late boat who was only going another 500 ft to a dock at Elizabeth City. 

We got another lesson from the Alligator Bridge operator who had a boat waiting for an opening when another boat called who was a mile out asking for the same opening. The operator replied, "Keep coming, I'll let the boat already here through, close it so local traffic can clear and reopen the bridge when you arrive". That was the proper response at the Elizabeth City bridge (both bridges are on demand). but the late boat didn't state how many minutes it would take for him to arrive nor how far behind he was - he just gave a location which meant nothing to the bridge operator. 

The end result of all this was a delay of 30 minutes for me and no delay for the late boat. In fact even if the operator had raised the bridge when I requested it, there would have been no delay for the late  boat since the bridge is on demand. So I was penalized by an inconsiderate boater. It's fair to wait 5 to 10 minutes to gather a group of boats for a bridge raising but not 30 minutes - especially if the bridge is on demand!

We had our usual dock, well protected, easy on and off at the Alligator Marina
Okay, so much for that. The rest of the Dismal Swamp canal was as good as the northern part, no hits and very little duckweed. We were told they did a drag and inspection of the canal right after all the high winds and rain, they did a good job. We had peaceful crossing of the Albemarle with light winds out of the north, ideal and made it into the Alligator Marina by 3:30. We refueled and Ann and Sarah got their ice cream cone. They have good cones here with very generous dips. I plan on having a lazy breakfast and then get down to the Pungo River anchorage for the night. So far no fuzzy bills.