Thursday, November 12, 2015
The Cypress Swamp and ICW Day 3
posted by Ardys
I didn’t mention that our little canal side marina last night was called Coinjock Marina. I guess that was the best they could come up with at the time. Active Captain says that a sticker can be purchased at the marina store that reads, “Where the HELL is Coinjock?” I wanted one. To put on our outboard motor. We’ve decided to plaster the shell of our old Tohatsu 18 HP motor with stickers. They will make it easily identifiable from all other outboards and dinghies at a crowded dinghy dock or shore and perhaps less appealing to enterprising thieves. It’s not that we are worried about theft, but it’s probably prudent to not have the most attractive equipment in any given area. Scruffiness has merit.
The big event of the day was that we crossed the Albemarle Sound although it turned out to not be eventful at all. We heard several cautionary tales about Albemarle Sound while we were in Annapolis. The Sound is not very large, only about 15 miles north/south and 40 miles east/west. The ICW crosses it in the 15 mile direction. The problem is that it’s very shallow. When we’re crossing, it appears as though we are on a huge lake with lots of room, but appearances are deceiving The navigable ICW channel remains narrow. It’s like a huge shallow dinner plate with a bit of depression running across the diameter. Any appreciable wind
pushes up the water but there’s no place for it to go, so the waves become very short, steep and choppy. We are told that it can be most unpleasant. Fortunately for us the wind was light today and we were able to motor quite easily across the Sound. We even put up the jib for a while. It was nice.
By the time we really needed to stop, before dark, there were absolutely no marinas nor anchorages or anything, really, with shore access available for a dog. It seemed it was time to test our mettle in training Jax to do his business on the boat—but then, decided—- Nah, not today. Somewhat against our better judgment, we anchored at the mouth of a little creek, Swan Creek, that feeds into the Alligator River just south of Albemarle Sound. Because the river was also very shallow, we could not get closer than ~1000’ from shore. Our charts label the land as a “cypress swamp.” We anchored and looked hopefully through our binoculars for a bit.
My husband, an aquatic ecologist pointed out that the knees of the cypress trees could puncture our dinghy if we were so unlucky as to tangle with them. We decided it best to dinghy over first without Jax, to ensure we could find someplace where he could leap out of the boat, do his dog stuff and leap back in. I had no intention of getting out of the dinghy with him. Not onto that mushy land, more because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back into the dinghy again without sinking way into the mud. We knew we were playing this as close to “stupid” as we dared go, to find our way into that stream, dodging cypress knees and low hanging branches. The whole while, my husband is saying, "It's really beautiful in here." Uh huh. I don't want to die here. I checked with my husband on this one sticky point—he assured me that there would be no alligators in there, "nearly 100% sure." Oh, how comforting.
The trip was successful. We came back, got the pooch and made a quick trip back to the little creek. It was understood that “we’re not doing this again in the morning.” Jax will have to go 24 hours OR do his thing on the boat. Will we stick to our guns on this? I wouldn’t place any bets, if I were you.