November 1, 2009.
Happy Birthday Mom.
When last I wrote we were anchored off the free docks in front of Elizabeth City, NC. The waterway has been a lot more crowded than any other trip we’ve made in the past. All the free slips were taken so we dropped the hook and spent a pleasant night at anchor.
We woke before dawn, checked the fluids, raised the mainsail and sailed off the hook at first light. We had a 50 mile day planned, but “I” had a semi silly notion of knocking out a 71 mile day.
We sailed wing and wing down the remaining 15 miles of the Pasquotank River. The wind was slowly building as the morning went on. When we arrived at the Albemarle Sound we had to turn onto a starboard tack. We covered the 13 miles across the sound at over 7 knots. The sound was a little choppy, but the trip across went quickly.
If you’ve been a long time reader then you know we had a horrible experience during our initial introduction to the mouth of the Alligator River. As a result, every time we enter the Alligator my sphincter gets a little bit tighter. There was even more to make us apprehensive this time, there was a parade of boats coming across from the Virginia Cut off to our port. I had decided to skip marker number 1 and head straight for number 3. The other boats all seemed to be heading for number 1. At this point both markers weren’t even in sight. I was just dead reckoning where I “thought” they should be. To my relief the column of other boats all turned to starboard and headed towards our course just as # 3 came into view for us.
Like I said, we hate this particular stretch of water and I was so relieved to have things unfold they way they did, that I decided not to even bother starting the engine. We had good wind and easily sailed through the winding channel.
Once we were within 2 miles of the Alligator River Swing Bridge we started the engine and dropped the sails. The bridge was constantly opening and closing for the steady stream of boats. Once through the bridge, the engine was off and we were back to wing and wing for the rest of the Alligator. During the days excellent sailing I proposed my extended day to Christy.
At the southern end of the Alligator River is the Alligator Pungo Canal. The AP Canal is 22 miles long and pretty much guaranteed to be close to 4 hours of solid motoring. When we left Elizabeth City we were planning to anchor just before entering the canal. I proposed that if we got to the Pungo Canal by 1400 hours that we should keep going and drop the hook once we were through the canal. Christy looked at me and just rolled her eyes so I took this as a sign of agreement, we arrived at the canal at 1415 so I figured “close enough” and we continued on through the Pungo.
The trip went well even though there was a bit of a current against us. Once clear of the canal we turned to starboard and worked our way into the anchorage among 20 other boats. We slept well after a 77 statute mile day. Even though it was a long day, it was a great day with more than 50 miles of it being under sail alone.