Intracoastal Waterway Cruise – Day 3 ICW Bridge Locks

The third day of the Atlantic ICW boat cruise continues to head south taking the “Special K” crew from Norfolk VA to Coinjock NC

This guest post blog series details the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Cruise of two friends, Karen and George, as they cruise the east coast from Chesapeake Bay to the Florida Gulf Coast.

We traveled 61 NM (our shortest distance yet on our ICW journey from Chesapeake Bay to Gulf Coast of FL) but this leg of our cruise down the ICW still took us 8 – 9 hours.  On this leg of the cruise we traveled from Norfolk VA to Coinjock NC.

The first leg of the trip was interesting as we passed the Norfolk Navel Base on our port (left) side and Fort Monroe to our starboard (right) side.  It was a day of learning  how to navigate the various bridges and locks while cruising the ICW through Virgina.

The Great Bridge Lock is 600 feet long and 72 feet wide.  It is where the tidal breakage waters of the Southern branch of the Elizabeth River meet the salt waters of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal (wind blown waters).  Northbound it locks on the hour, Southbound it locks on the half hour.

The lock is there to help control the amount of these waters that are “mixed” and keep the water from being sucked out of the canal with the tides of the Elizabeth River .

Helpful hints to our fellow cruisers:  Know the rules for right of way on the water.  Although these are not always adhered to they do help with some of the confusion.  Be patient, have some good music to listen to.  There are often long delays at the bridges and locks due to barge traffic.

What we found most helpful:  Our Garmin 740 – could not have made the trip without it.  Thank you Bob & Barb Kendell for recommending it.  It was well worth it.  Our “pocket hose” – greatest thing ever. Every boater should have one.  It was so easy to pull out at each stop to fill the water tanks and wash off the boat – be prepared for lots of  salt spray.

We stayed at a popular transient stop for boaters traveling north or south – Coninjock Marina – on the Intracoastal Waterway Mile Marker 50.


While at Coinjock Marina we had to try the famous prime rib.  If planning to stop here (kind of have to stay here because it’s the first stop after  Norfolk VA).  Call ahead to reserve your prime rib. You can either order the 32 oz or 16 oz cut. – Very good piece of prime rib!  The service was less than stellar and the bathroom facilities were not as clean as others we have visited.  Also have bug spray handy to battle the mosquitoes & flies.

We enjoyed meeting other boaters, mostly cruising North, who filled us in on what to expect as we continued our journey South (we are cruising the opposite direction of most “snow birds” that return north at this time of the year). We met folks from Canada to Florida and everywhere in between.

Follow the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Cruise

Continue to follow their two week journey on this blog as Karen shares guest posts detailing each leg of their cruise along the Intracoastal Waterways.

See all the latest posts:
Intracoastal Waterway Cruise

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.
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