Peak season for the snowbirds heading south on the intracoastal waterway has become a log jam. (The canal is so near to my neighborhood that on calm mornings in winter I can hear the tugboat radios and the coxswains calling out cadence over megaphones to the crew boats that row the canal). Unfortunately one of the four valves that allow water to move in and out of the locks has become stuck. There is no easy repair when the valve is a 10 foot by 12 foot piece of metal located beneath the waterline. To even get to the site of the problem will involve designing, bidding out and constructing a coffer dam.
The locks normally open and allow passage on the hour, up to 24 times a day. With the stuck valve passage might be possible once or twice a day, only at low tide when the wind is mild enough to allow the water on the river side to be level with the water on the canal side. The southern end of the river is crowded with boats, as is Craford Bay in Portsmouth. The snowbirds may be delayed slightly in reaching the sunshine and warmth of the Caribbean.
There are two alternate routes south. The Dismal Swamp Canal is scenic, but narrow and shallow. The offshore route is proving difficult with the coast guard responding to calls for assistance from four boats in the Atlantic over the last 24 hours.
Before heading to Chestertown for the downrigging I replaced the bunk supports on Spartina's trailer. All four supports were heavily corroded, two of the cracked. I also notice the leaf springs and axle brackets were heavy with rust. My winter work, along with sanding and repainting Spartina's hull, will include rebuilding the trailer. Between sanding, painting and trailer work, it should be a busy winter.