Blue Turtle Cruising

ICW to Chesapeake Bay: Beaufort, NC to Hampton,VA

The morning we left Beaufort, NC, we went for a run and then stopped at the fuel dock on the way out to fill up. Since we knew we’d have a short day, we motored on the ICW 44 miles to Sanders Point on Bay River where we anchored the night. The next morning, we left earlier at 7am and cruised north through the Pamlico River where we lost cell coverage for about 4 hours. We ended up doing a long day of 96 miles and made it to the north side of Albermarle Sound. From there, we had a 42 mile motor the next day to Chesapeake, VA. Once we navigated the Albemarle/Chesapeake Railroad Bridge, along with several other boats, we made our way to the free docks just before the Great Bridge and Lock. We stayed here on our trip south last fall and really like this stop. If there’s room available, we can tie up the boat and take Sophie for a walk through the nearby trails. It’s nice since we can take the pup to shore without having to put the dinghy in the water. The next morning, we walked a short distance to a nearby grocery to pick up a few things and left the dock, making the 10am bridge and lock opening.

From the Great Bridge and Lock, we made our way through Norfolk while navigating a busy channel of container ships and Navy ships. We finally got to see a submarine as we left the Elizabeth River and headed past the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel! We anchored near Pheobus/Old Point Comfort and went ashore to check out the town. Phoebus is a small town located in Hampton, VA, on the Virginia Peninsula. We enjoyed exploring this small town and first stopped by the 1865 Brewing Company for a flight a beer. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any IPAs on draft, but we were glad we got to see visit anyway. From there, we stopped at the Phoebus Dive Bar (with a name like that, we had to) for a pint. On our walk back to the dinghy, we passed by a cider place called Sly Clyde’s. Randy talked me into checking it out since it’d been a long time since we both had cider. Turns out, it was our favorite stop. We enjoyed the cider, the bartender and the very nice local fella sitting next to us giving us the scoop on things to see in Hampton.

The next day, we dinghied into the OPC (Old Point Comfort) Marina where we met Dom, a friend of Randy’s family from boating on the Chesapeake when he was younger. Dom keeps his sailboat in the OPC marina and lives in nearby Hampton. He was nice enough to drive us to the local Costco so we could stock up on provisions. We ended up seeing a deal for a paddleboard that we couldn’t pass up, so we bought one. We’re looking forward to putting that paddleboard to good use. Once we got back to the boat with our Costco loot, Dom came aboard for a drink to catch up.

One of the things we knew we wanted to do while in Hampton was to check out Fort Monroe. Located on the southern tip of the peninsula, Fort Monroe originally guarded the navigation channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads. Named for James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, Fort Monroe took 15 years to build and was completed in 1834. It is the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. Its history spans from American Indian presence, Captain John Smith’s journeys, first arrival of enslaved Africans in English North America, a safe haven for freedom seekers during the American Civil War, and a bastion of defense for the Chesapeake Bay through the 21st Century.

After going for a run around the perimeter of the fort, Randy and I (with Sophie in her stroller) explored the fort for a few hours. The fort is massive compared to the Dry Tortugas fort that we’ve explored many times and we walked many miles that day. We loved looking at the many historic buildings and homes. The best view was from the top of the fort wall where you can look out over the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse and the Chesapeake Bay.

Since we had done our provisioning at Costco, the next item on the agenda was laundry. There are no coin laundromats nearby so I called a couple marinas. We took the dinghy into Hampton River to the Docks @ Downtown Hampton, where we could use the free dinghy dock and use the marina’s laundry facilities. While there, we took a walk around downtown Hampton. We would have loved to visit the Virginia Air & Space Science Center, but we couldn’t since we had Sophie with us. After laundry was done, we went next door to Bull Island Brewing Company for a pint before dinghying back to the boat.

We enjoyed staying in Hampton and with dinghy access to a nearby grocery and marina for laundry, it makes a great stop before heading into Chesapeake Bay.

Beaufort, NC to Sanders Point = 44.5 nm
Sanders Point to Duck Creek = 96.5 nm
Duck Creek to Great Bridge Free Dock (Chesapeake, VA) = 42 nm
Great Bridge Free Dock to Hampton, VA = 21 nm

TOTAL miles to date: = 3,356 nm

3 thoughts on “ICW to Chesapeake Bay: Beaufort, NC to Hampton,VA”

  1. Congratulations on this posting and especially your wonderful review of Phoebus and Ft. Monroe!
    I used to live on Willoughby Spit (Norfolk) across the water from Ft. Monroe.
    few suggestions for the northern Chesapeake Bay…
    1) Annapolis.
    2) St. Michaels and
    3) Anchoring before or after St. Michaels in one of the lovely branches of the nearby Wye River.
    4) Leaving the St. Michaels/ Wye River area…proceed due North in Eastern Bay( do not return to the Bay via Bloody Point) heading towards Kent Narrows(lots of marinas and restaurants) . Leaving Kent Narrows pay strict attention to buoys & your depth sounder! You will then be at the mouth of the Chester River…then…
    5) you can bead to the open northernmost Chesapeake Bay…OR turn to your starboard and venture up the Chester River a short way to the Corsica River (not far on your Starboard side and sekect one of the beautiful safe anchorages.

    You could spend years exploring the Chesapeake Bay Country!

    Tight Lines!
    Alan & Jeanne Cecil
    M/V SIGMACHI

    Reply
    • Thanks for the info! We spent last summer cruising around the Chesapeake and visited several of these spots. We really enjoyed cruising Chesapeake Bay!

      Reply

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