Last week-end, my wife and I took a two-day excursion aboard the Bonny Blue. Amid our concerns about my step-father's failing health and my wife's new responsibilities as co-administrator of her late father's estate, the trip was a welcome bit of R & R. It was also a commemoration of our tenth wedding anniversary. It was like staying in a floating Bed & Breakfast.
It looked for a while as if we had chosen a bad week-end for an outing. The weather in Norfork on Friday was cool, windy and rainy. However both Saturday and Sunday, though still a bit cool, were wonderful days to be on the water.
Travel on this portion of the inland waterway is slow and peaceful. Most of the time we spent on the historic, man-made Dismal Swamp Canal. I had prepared for the trip by starting to read the recent The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company by Charles Royster. The remaining portion is on the scenic Pasquotank River.
The Captain and crew were wonderful. With only sixteen passengers at a time the ship is not crowded and we had plenty of time to get to meet the other passengers and be waited on. The crew, high school students, were fun to watch. Several were new, learning both their hosting roles as well as how to crew a ship. They all agreed that it is the "best summer job, ever!"
Once docked at Elizabeth City, North Carolina we walked around, had great seafood dinner, and returned for a concert in the piano bar provided by Captain Jeff and the boat's designer and builder, Merritt Walter. We slept like ballast.
Merritt Walter was a "passenger" for this trip as he is turning over daily operations of the Bonny Blue so he can work on other projects. Captain Walter is a retired Navy diver, boat builder and captain of federal research vessels. He is best know for his traditional "Rover" series of masted wooden sail vessels. An example is the Downeast Rover. The American Rover is another. He was a pleasure to talk with. He plays a mean "piano bar" keyboard too.
The return trip was equally relaxing, just what we needed. It was not quite the proverbial "slow boat to China." But last week-end it was close enough.