We idled through the glass-calm waters, past the red-lighted marker "R36" indicating Mile "0"-the official beginning of the ICW. I gave it a well-deserved bottoms-up with a glass of orange juice. Off to starboard I could see the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, its hallways rumored to be haunted.
The ICW would wind its way for the next ten miles or so until we got to Great Bridge Lock, there to enter into the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal before traversing the North Landing River. We would then cross Currituck Sound and into the tannin-tinted waters of North Carolina on our way to Albemarle Sound. The dark-tea color is courtesy of decaying leaves and branches from the cypress and juniper trees that line the waterway.
I had put in my wheel time, and with the sun shining and the wind almost nil, I now sat in a comfortable chair in the cockpit and took it all in. I could just see the top of the port bow wake as it swept past amidships and flattened out where I sat, the landscape passing me by. We slowed down and exchanged greetings with a northbound boat, a dog on her foredeck.
I could also see into the salon as Machelle and Amanda worked at a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that now took up most of the teak table there. A pair of cereal boxes was still on the galley counter, evidence of our earlier breakfast. Amanda's school backpack sat on a chair holding the books she would need to continue working on a project due when she returned from the break. Bildahl and Louden were in the wheelhouse and I would join them shortly.