Southbound sailboats take a weather day in Oriental, NC

Southbound sailboats take a weather day in Oriental, NC

At least 20 southbound sailboats opted to stay in Oriental today where it is a bit dreary, rainy, mid-60° temps, and windy.

Five boats grabbed a spot at the free town docks. Some took a slip at Oriental Marina & Inn / Toucan Grill & Fresh Bar and a few anchored.

Corkscrewing across Albemarle Sound

Corkscrewing across Albemarle Sound

Sort of a late start as I viewed various wind forecasts for Albemarle Sound. Decided tomorrow wasn’t any better than today, so upped the hook from North River and set out.

When Ferrity reached the middle, winds were a steady 20+ knots with higher gusts from the northeast which put wind and sea on the port quarter. The video doesn’t adequately capture the pitching and rolling. The dog leg into the Alligator River put the seas on the beam – some serious rolling.

And then I spied the bridge. Somehow in my planing I had overlooked the long low bridge. Another sailboat that had slowly gained on me across Albemarle passed by at the entrance and now led the way.  Couldn’t remember if North Carolina bridges monitored VHF channel 13 or 9. Somewhere on this ICW voyage, bridges monitor channel 9. So I hailed the bridge on 13, with the pretext of inquiring about the next opening.

The Alligator River Bridge tender monitors 13 and replied that he opened on request. Would open when we (sailboat leading and Ferrity) were closer. Sure enough, the swing bridge began turning a bit later such that neither of us had to slow down.

With winds still howling, dropped the hook across from Stumpy Creek near entrance to Alligator Pungo River Canal.

As others have mentioned, there is no phone/internet service near the canal. Alas, resorted to reading Red Sky in Mourning by Tami Oldham Ashcraft. This book/experience is the basis for the 2018 movie Adrift.

Yesterday morning after motoring through the Alligator River – Pungo River Canal, I grabbed a slip at River Forest Manor and Marina in Belhaven, NC for refueling. They have a long hose that refueled Ferrity in the slip, loaner golf carts, free WiFi, and free laundry. Nice.

Tonight ’twas The Tavern at Jack’s Neck for beer and pizza.

No visitor center

No visitor center

Was looking forward to a stop at the North Carolina Visitor Center for a pee break and local attraction pamphlets. Either I missed it or there isn’t one on the ICW. Everyone knows that boaters are RICH – yet no visitor center. Why? (Note: On the alternate ICW route via the Dismal Swamp, a popular top is the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center.)

Short six hour run today – but NO bridges, trains, or locks. Opted not to cross Albemarle Sound in waning light although two braver sailboaters entered the sound 30 minutes before sky king doused the big light.

Tomorrow, Belhaven is a 63.3 nm run or 56 to closest anchorage beyond the canal. Leaving at dawn is a stretch, so will toss a bunch of steel over at the head of the Alligator River for tomorrow night – a 34 nm run.

Dropped hook at the blue dot amongst a field of crab pots.

North River anchorage
Hampton, VA to Pungo Ferry

Hampton, VA to Pungo Ferry

Left Hampton Public Piers before sunrise. Crossing Hampton roads, dodging freighters, tugs, pilot vessels, Navy police boats etc.

Similar to my first liveaboard – USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
Norfolk Waterside

 

Passing ICW mile marker 0 – Buoy 36

Arrived at Gilmerton Bridge for 0930 opening idled until 1040 because of a train which finally arrived at 1020! Surprised by the arrival of s/v Mavi, a Bayfield 36 hailing from Canada, at Gilmerton Bridge.

s/v Mavi waiting for Gilmerton Bridge

Finally made the 1250 locking at Great Bridge Lock. Original target was the 0950 locking. The Great Bridge, immediately below the lock synchronizes its opening with the lock.

Great Bridge Lock

Plan was to reach Coinjock, but plans are not for sailors. Anchored across from marker 31 above Pungo Ferry.

Anchored above Pungo Ferry, rain overtaking daylight.
A summary of today’s travels. I anchored at the little sailboat icon to the left of Haynes Creek.
Anchored Mill Creek (Reedville, VA)

Anchored Mill Creek (Reedville, VA)

Just hunkered down in Mill Creek (below Reedville, VA). Great sailing for several hours today, but the fading wind, arriving rain, and forecast suggested finding a safe harbor for the next 36-48 hours.

For those who wish to follow vicariously but not nefariously, this link “should” launch a map. The track displays when I remember to activate/charge my Garmin inReach. IF it works! (Garmin, FB, legacy DeLorme amalgamation.)

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Sailing the ocean blue