Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Thursday, October 30, 2003
We headed up the Pagan River again toward Smithfield Station Marina.  The hurricane has taken out every dock, undermined some of the banks, and tossed trees everywhere.  One smaller motorboat was still hung up in its lift, but it was very askew.  A sailboat was far up on the bank, way above the high tide line.  It would be interesting to see how it gets back to the water because the land rises very sharply behind it, and the water in front of it is too shallow for a barge.  The restaurant at the marina is at least 15 feet above the normal water level.  During the hurricane, the water came across the outside deck and began to seep under the doors of the dining room.  The parking lot was submerged under 6 feet of water.  

The owner of the marina, Ron Pack, said we could dock for the next two days, but he had a large fleet of boats coming in the the weekend.  He wouldn't know until tomorrow or Saturday if we could stay.  We tied up and went in to have a lunch of crab cakes and scallops.  Joyce and Rex Williams picked us up so we could do our laundry and get fresh provisions.  We returned to the boat to have dinner on board.

Friday, October 31, 2003
We rode our bicycles up the hill to Smithfield and spent the day visiting the museum and the shops.  Smithfield was named after Arthur Smith, the first settler to own land in 1637 along the Pagan River.  His great-grandson had the land surveyed in 1750 and laid out the town.  Houses built in the 1750s are still maintained as private homes.  The Smithfield Inn, built in 1752 and opened as a tavern in  1759, is still providing shelter and good food to its guests.  (It was the Christ Episcopal Church rectory during the last half of the 19th century.)  There are almost 50 buildings from 1752 through 1913 that still grace the old streets.  Captain Mallory Todd established the first ham curing and shipping business in 1779.  Dry-cured hams made from peanut-fed hogs have become renowned over the past three centuries. The Smithfield hams are famous for their long-lasting quality... there is one, for instance, in the local museum which was cured in 1902 and said to still be tasty. But it has not been actually tasted in a few years. We made sure we had a fresh Smithfield ham sandwich at the Gourmet Bakery and bought some slices for another day.

We returned to town in the evening to watch the Halloween Parade.  The costumed children go from store to store to receive their treats.  Most of the towns in this area limit the times and the age of the children for Trick or Treating, but Smithfield gathers them all in one place.

Saturday, November 1, 2003
Joyce and Rex Williams joined us for a trip up the James River to see the Ghost Fleet.  There are more than 100 ships that are stored there, many of them rusting and deteriorating.  There is an aircraft carrier, landing ships, supply ships.  We even saw the old Empire State, the SUNY Maritime training ship.  There is a patrol boat hanging around the several groups to make sure that no one gets too close.  We continued up river a few more miles where we anchored to enjoy a picnic lunch.

When we got back to the marina, we found that the slip we'd been in was occupied by its owner who had returned early from a cruise.  Darkness had come, the current was rushing by at 6 knots, and we were trying to back into an alternate slip that was 6" narrower than our beam.  With the assistance of the owners of the two adjacent boats, we managed to back far enough in so we could get off on the finger pier from our swim platform.

Sunday, November 2, 2003
We rode back into town to go Christ Episcopal Church.  We wanted to visit St. Luke's Church, but they don't hold regular services.  It was built in 1632 and is the oldest original Anglican Church in America.  After church we went back into town to see an art show.  Some of the paintings were interesting, but we much preferred the sculptures seated around town.  Kay looked over Robert Frost's shoulder to read his "Fences" poem.  We returned to the boat to reposition it in a proper slip and to pack our bags for tomorrow's trip back to Long Island.

Monday, November 3, 2003 through Sunday, November 9, 2003
We drove back to Amityville for Kay's Mom's Memorial Service.  Alan and Corinne flew down from Syracuse, Cynthia and Donald drove from Campbell Hall with the three girls, Caryl and her three children came in from Shirley, and Amy and her son Jay came over from Lindenhurst.  Pastor Eric Rasmussen  of the First United Methodist Church led a nice service that included the hymns and a poem that Mom had requested.  Some of her friends from the Church and some of our friends also attended.  We returned to Smithfield Station on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, November 10, 2003
We returned the rental car and left Smithfield to head back down the Pagan and James Rivers toward Portsmouth and Norfolk.  There wasn't too much traffic on the waterways -- a few tows, some tugs running one way or another, a container ship heading out to sea, and some pleasure craft going somewhere.  We headed up the Elizabeth River and passed mile 0 of the ICW.  We zipped past the first bridge with a tug and a sailboat, and then we all sat and waited at the next bridge because the railroad bridge right next to it was closed "for maintenance work" according to that bridge tender.  Forty-five minutes later we had grown to two tugs, three tows, two sailboats, and four pleasure craft.  I guess the RR bridge tender decided that something might bump into something else, so he opened his bridge.  We could not see any remnants of any work, no workmen, no vehicles, no nothing.  We headed up the Dismal Swamp Canal soon thereafter, but we were 20 minutes too late at the Deep Creek Lock for the 3:30 opening -- the last of the day.  We anchored right in front of the lock for the night.  We had thought that this route was along a deserted waterway, but we passed houses along the canal, and we could see a church spire and a town beyond the lock.

Next:  The Dismal Swamp Route... Welcome to North Carolina    --or--  Back to Log Index
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