Among our preparations for the highly anticipated Albemarle Sound crossing were some safety protocols initiated by Adam. I was impressed by his pre cautious endeavors as he isn’t generally very safety conscious when it comes to disastrous foresight; that is usually my department.
Some might say he went a little over board, (in the effort of not going overboard) but not I!
We each were equipped with one sailing harness, and a tether with a safety release on it. He also installed a jack-line running along the length of the boat to secure us during any main-sail adjustments. Our life jackets each had one whistle, one rigging knife, and one strobe light. And if that wasn’t enough, he even outfitted a little back pack with water, flares and and our epirb. I think he was a little nervous.
And I don’t blame him given the horror stories that the Coinjock marina employees were lavishing us with.
We had fifteen miles to go before reaching the mouth of the sound. And one thing I read many times over in our cruising guidebooks, was to cross the sound early in the morning. The channel was narrow leading up the sound, too narrow for sailing, and our motor averages about 4 knots. Not very fast.
We started our motor before the sun could even see us off.
The hours passed us slowly, and the sun revealed the calm and peaceful habitat of North River through a blanket of clouds.
It was a long way to the sound, but our anxieties eased off a bit when we set the sails and began the crossing.
The entire thing can be summed up in 2 words:
There was barely any wind, and no waves to speak of. What little wind there was was following us, as predicted, making for a very smooth ride.
It almost felt like we were cheating.
Especially as we saw the white caps building behind us steadily on the south end of the sound. So much fuss over nothing!
For now I will take a boring sail over a terrifying one. Yes please, and thank you.
We began to relax completely as we approached the Alligator River Bridge, on to the next leg of our journey.
30 miles down, 20 more to go till we reached our anchorage destination for the night at Tuckahoe Point at winding tail of the Alligator River.
That’s a long day when you consider that we were averaging 4-5 knots.
The river was big, bigger than we expected, and the clouds were ominous on all sides of us.
We were also exhausted. So there was only one solution to all of these problems: fire up the beast.
Earlier in the summer, in preparation for this south-bounding journey, we installed a secondary outboard motor to eliminate the possibility of more motor disasters in the future. What we ended up with is an old 2 stroke 15hp refurbished motor that starts every time, but takes about an hour to warm up, and sounds like a hellion.
The new 4 stroke motors are great, but they weigh like 200lbs and cost over 4,000$. Ear plugs are a just a few bucks, or free if you use tissue.
We really only have it in case of emergencies, or when getting to bed quicker is worth the cost of damaged eardrums.
We made it to our anchorage around 500pm, after 12 hours of boating. It was the most beautiful anchorage we have seen yet.
Being in such a secluded and wild place, we were surprised when these guys came buzzing around:
And we were even more surprised when they came back,… again and again and again. They must have circled around 20 times.
The next morning we had a visitor on the boat!
He’s our mascot, I think he might still be hanging out on The Frog.
The day in front of us was long, but beautiful. The Alligator River Canal is a narrow ditch full of swampy habitat. We didn’t see any bears, although the area is supposed to have the highest concentration of black bears in the country.
After a few hours of steady motoring, the rains started. And they didn’t stop until we reached our destination: Bell Haven, NC, 30 miles away from our anchorage.
Bell Haven is a quaint little mariners town, and cruisers are welcome guests. The City Chairman even left her phone # in our welcome packet in case we needed a ride to the grocery store. Wow.
But our marina, at the River Forest Manor, has complimentary golf carts for our unlimited use, so that won’t be necessary.
If it weren’t for the golf carts, I think we would have decided to head out the next morning, rain or no rain. But they lured us into staying an extra day, taunting us with free go-carting transportation.
We quickly realized upon waking up this morning that we have numerous repairs to attend to. Not to mention there is rain in the forecast for the next 8 days.
Until our next rainy boat ride!