May 8, 2010.
So after the 31 hour nightmare the right thing to do would have been to sleep in. But alas, we couldn’t afford to. The forecast was for big southwest winds that were going to build through the day before clocking northwest.
We were headed north so as long as we could get underway early this should work out for us. So I set the alarm and dragged Christy from our nice warm bed at 0600. I raised the sail and then the hook and we were off. As soon as we set out Christy recommended that we put a reef in the mainsail and in retrospect, boy was she ever right. There is an old sailing expression that goes something like, If you think about reefing then you better do it.
Because the wind was so close behind us we couldn’t use the genoa to any advantage. It made no difference to us as we blasted along at over 6 knots with just a double reefed mainsail. We did the 20 mile length of the Alligator in just 3 hours. The Alligator River Swing Bridge opened for us on request and we blew right through with nary a moments pause. It was lucky for us as the bridge will not open in winds above 35 MPH. The bridge tender told us it was hovering at a steady 33 MPH.
Once clear of the Alligators convoluted entrance channel we headed out across the Albemarle Sound. To say conditions were a bit “sporting” would be an understatement. There was a tug pushing a barge behind us and when he got out into open water he turned the whole rig around and went back into the Alligator to hide.
Our big concern was to get across the Albemarle today because when the wind switched from the northwest it was going to be a real bear. Close reaching in 30 knots or better would not have been an option for us. As it was we had 25 knots apparent driving our double reefed boat onward in spite of the ridiculous rolling seas.
We were both relieved to be across the sound and into the lee of some land. It didn’t do anything to knock down the wind but the sea state was markedly improved. We were still banging along so we kept adjusting where we thought we might spend the night.
Stopping options are few and far between in this stretch so it wasn’t easy to watch Buck Island slide by early in the day. Since the wind was supposed to be big outta the northwest the next day we got real ambitious and decided to get across Currituck Sound. It’s a 10 mile long body of shallow water that has a channel dredged through the middle of it. Pounding through there would suck so we opted to try and put it behind us today.
And put it behind us we did. After 73 miles we found ourselves anchored just off the ICW near the town of Pungo Ferry. The next day will be a 30 mile slog into big winds. We should garner some protection from the surrounding forests as the last of the exposed sections of the ICW are behind us.