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Captain Log ID: 102
Title: Elizabeth City to Norfolk, VA
Boat Name(Id): Blue Jacket ( 58)
Sailor Name(Id): Geoff Schultz ( 306)
Geo Region: Virginia, USA
Date of Occurance: 1999-05-14
Latitude: N 36º   57'
Longitude: W 76º   20.999'
Sender (if email-in):
Earlier log from "Blue Jacket":  623
Newer log from "Blue Jacket":  286
        Page visited 909 times since created         Edit This Log

May 14, 1999 - Elizabeth City, NC to Norfolk, VA

Dismal day on Dismal Swamp
Coffee Water!
South Mills lock flooding
Leaving S. Mills Lock
S. Mills bridge
Rafted up awaiting Deep Creek lock
In lock repairing FunGirl
Which way home?
Kim & Sandra Ahlers on Kewaydin
USS Eisenhower
Old Navy Tugs

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Let's see...where to begin...Well, the repairs on the prop shaft were much harder to complete then we estimated. According to the plan, I was going to jump into the water with my dive gear on and simply push the shaft forward. At which point we'd re-bolt it, and be on our way. Sounds like a simple plan that should be completed within an hour or so. Right? :-)

Well, first off, diving in this water was like diving in coffee. Literally, it's that color. I had grabbed my dive light to help me see, and immediately i noted that I could barely see the light when I help it at arms length. It's not that the water is cloudy, it's just dark colored. Once I was underwater, it may as well have been night. It was pitch black. After feeling my way along the hull of the boat, I finally found the prop shaft. After using all of my strength to pull/push/coerce the prop shaft forward, it was clear that I wasn't going to do this by hand. AJ came up with the idea to tie a line around the prop and a strut and to use a screw drive to twist the line and pull it forward. That good idea, but it didn't work. It was also a lot of fun tying the line in pitch black! Since that failed, it was back to the drawing board.

Our next brilliant idea was to get several bolts of varying length (6", 5", 4", etc) and to use them to slowly crank the shaft forward. Now one of the things that I've learned about this Freedom, is that they sacrificed access to the engine for living space! This process took us 3-4 hours with both of us lying on the floor in all kinds of contorted positions trying to hold nuts or tighten bolts. We managed to find every sharp object within engine compartment too! But by 1 PM, were done and had things more or less cleaned up.

I spent the afternoon talking with the owners of the boatyard and photographing it. It was quite a place. It was used in WW I and WW II to build PT boats and other naval boats. Until a few years ago they had government contracts and had 10-15 people employed. They lost these contracts a couple of years ago, and since then the place has gone into disrepair. A hurricane a year or two ago really ripped up the docks. Of most interest is are the old machines and tools used to build the naval boats. I had a lot of fun photographing them.

We left Elizabeth City this morning at 6 AM in order to make 8:30 opening for the first of 2 locks on the Dismal Swamp Canal. If we missed this first lock, we wouldn't be able to make the second lock opening and make it to Norfolk. We barely made it, but we did. It was a very dismal day, with lots of cold rain and wind, but the actual canal is quite pretty with lots of lush vegetation. The canal was surveyed by George Washington and runs pretty much in a straight line. It's only about 50 feet wide, and the trees form a heavy canopy right up to the canal edge. As are result of the overhanging branches, the width of the canal is much smaller, and requires precise navigation.

There were 6 boats which went through the first lock. We dropped one at the second, and one of the boats couldn't get their engine started. One boat towed the disabled boat into the lock, and then there was a group effort to diagnose the problem. AJ diagnosed it as a bad alternator, and the lock tender took the boat owner to an auto store to get a charged battery. That fixed the problem, and then we were all off. We barely made a series of bridges before they were closed for rush hour. Now we're docked in Norfolk, and will probably be here for a good part of the weekend waiting for this north-easter to blow out. The winds are howling at 20-30 kts, and that would be right on our nose with large waves. Not fun. So we'll stick it out here until something changes. That's about it for now. Hope that all is well. See ya soon!