Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Elizabeth City Albemarle Sound to Alligator River

Saturday Afternoon Oct 23
Elizabeth City, NC

Saturday we arrived in Elizabeth City, NC  about 1230pm along with Sail Away and Serenity.  We were able to find spots at the city dock, which are free for 48 hours.  They don't have any showers, electricity or water though.  After everyone was tied up and settled, I invited our sailing friends over for cheese and crackers, salsa, guacamole and chips for lunch.
Jeanne and Ken from S/V Sail Away

Mo from S/V Serenity and Phil

Polly and Mo of S/V Serenity
In the park close to the town dock, there was a big white tent for a farmer's market. I went over about 145pm and was able to pick up some nice tomatoes, yellow squash, butternut squash and apples to round out our supplies on board.  I also bought a smoked pork jowl for $3.  We are in the south after all.  It's good for seasoning bean dishes and I thought I'd give it a try.  S/V Nifty Nickers arrived about 430pm.  There was general discussion on the docks about what to do about supper. We had heard that the Shriners were having an all you can eat Shrimp dinner for $15/person, but then found out later that they were far away to walk to.  Chuck and Dianne told us that Cypress Creek Grill had good seafood and they were just down a little across the street.  I was going to fix supper but then got sidetracked when I saw a Krogen 38 sailboat docked a few boats down..  This is sailboat that I was interested in and had seen online.  They looked like a nice layout, but it's hard to tell what they really look like even with the photos.  They have this great aft cabin but I wasn't sure about the galley. The owners were loading provisions and I struck up a conversation.  Betsy and Ed Wright on S/V Haven invited me aboard to take a look and I took them up on it.
Ed on S/V Haven a Krogen 38
It's a very nice boat and Ed has done a lot of work on her keeping her up and updating her.  Phil came on board and we had a great conversation about places to go cruising and modifications he's made to the boat. Afterwards, Phil decided to take us out to dinner and we ended up at Cypress Creek Grill. (he didn't want to be washing dishes at 9pm) Shortly after we ordered, Chuck and Dianne from S/V Nifty Nickers entered and joined us for supper.  The foods was great and we ordered from their Petite menu so didn't have any leftovers.    At the last minute, we decided to not stay Sunday and instead follow the ICW across the Albemarle Sound and the Alligator River instead of going to Roanoke Island.  The wind would be ok for us to get there, but then the wind was to be from the South through Thursday and we were concerned that we wouldn't be able to leave with the wind on the nose sailing in unprotected waters of the Pamlico Sound instead of more protected waters of the ICW.

Sunday, Oct 24
Distance Traveled:  51.4nm
Total Distance: 1015.59
Albemarle Sound Alligator River
Sunrise leaving Elizabeth City, NC
Elizabeth City, NC

When we woke up about 630am it was 50F outside and 64F inside the boat.  By 7am we had started our engine left the city docks to make the trip through the Albemarle Sound and down the Alligator River. Two Beneteaus 393, Sail Away and Serenity were just ahead of us.  There was a beautiful red sunrise, the best we've seen so far on this trip.  The winds were SW 4 knots and it wasn't until 920am that Phil rolled out the head sail when the winds clocked to SW 8-11knots.  That lasted until 11am when the winds died to S 4-5 knots.

About 8am the Coast Guard had a Pan, Pan, Pan announcement that there was a vessel in distress at a unknown location with unknown condition asking for others to keep a sharp lookout and call in  any information they may have.  This announcement went throughout the day - finally heard that was off some point/tower in Virginia.  Never did hear any resolution to this call.

We did hit bottom today about 1130am as we were too close to a green mark and there was shoaling that wasn't on the GPS, but was lucky in that 2 trawlers were passing us and their wake lifted us up enough that Phil was able to back up and we continued on our way.  We passed through the Alligator Swing Bridge with 4 sailboats far behind us.  We did start motor sailing again at 1245pm with the head sail out as the winds were SW 8-9 knots.  By 320pm we dropped anchor in a Georgia Bay off the ICW and before the start of a long canal  and we didn't have any cell phone signal at all.
First time on trip to wear cami - Campbell Creek
  Not too much later Sail Away anchored and then  S/V Splash, a Sun Odyssey DS 44-45', anchored between us. I made supper of western style pork rib cooked with a mixture of half barley and half TJ's brown rice mix.  I tried a piece of the smoked jowl with fresh wax beans from the market.  Turned out really good!  Ken and Jeanne Blyth came to visit us and I served them gingerbread and canned cream that I put in the cooler and added some powder sugar.  There is a story about this gingerbread.  Gingerbread takes baking soda as the leavening agent and I searched through the whole boat, except in deep deep storage for some baking soda.  None - which is unusual for me.  I could have sworn that I had baking soda on the boat.   I called Sail Away - no luck.  I called a couple other boats in the anchorage - no response.  What I wanted to do was radio out on Channel 16 to ask if anyone had baking soda, but I restrained myself and used baking powder instead. Phil was thinking that I was crazy asking on the radio for baking soda.  It turned out ok - not like with baking soda, but it raised up and tasted good even though the texture was different. Ken and Jeanne rowed back to their boat at 830pm and we went to bed about an hour later as tomorrow was going to be a long day.

Monday, Oct 25
Distance Traveled:  33.46 nm
Total Distance Traveled:  1049.05nm

Passage to Belhaven, NC

ICW - Canal
We raised anchor at 739am with the temp 63F outside and 70F inside and after Phil made his coffee.  We were the last one of the boats out of the anchorage, but not far behind the others.  Still no cell phone signal.  We entered a canal part of the ICW and by 920am it was 73F outside and the sky was blue.

ICW Canal
Phil steering - we're sailing!!!
Once we got to the Pungo River about 1145am we were able to put out the head sail and 5 min later we turned off the motor and sailed with winds S 11-18 knots and a speed of 6.2 - 7 knots.
Finally some time to not have the motor running.  Phil had put in the last of the diesel into the engine before we left this morning.  We overheard on the radio someone calling River Forest Marina asking if they or anyone else had diesel, and only Dowry Creek Marina had any at dock side.  We had first decided to dock at Dowry Creek Marina, but then changed our mind when Ken and Jeanne wanted to go to River Forest Marina in Belhaven to be closer to stores.  At this news, we turned the boat around to go back to Dowry Creek Marina as we had to get diesel.  After motor sailing for about 5 min, Phil radioed River Forest Marina and asked if there was a gas station close by - yes 1 mi away.  Did they have a courtsey car - no but they have golf carts and if we stayed overnight we could take one that far away to get diesel.  So we turned around and went to River Forest Marina.
Docked at River Forest Marina

Seagulls on the dock at River Forest Marina

It's the first marina past a wooden surge arrestor (see in the background of above photo) which is a wooden wall that has room between the slats that suppose to arrest hurricane surges. (this is what we call it, it's a kind of breakwall but not stones)  We docked with Axson, the owner, and another person's help.  By this time it was raining and Axson offered us to be driven by his manager to the gas station.  She was also kind enough to drive us to Food Lion for provisions and I was able to get my glasses aligned at the optometrist next door.  This Optomemtrist is only opened 2 days a week - M & W so it was my lucky day.  This marina has run into some hard luck. It use to be much nicer than it is now.  They have a world famous smorgasbord on Sundays, but it's not as nice now as it use to be.  The docks and the breakwall made of stones are covered with seagulls and the poop.   They do have showers and a laundry and the people there are very nice. Phil thinks they are the nicest that we've met along the way, bending over backwards to help us.   Sail Way decided to anchor in the basin in front of the town.  I was able to wash clothes before a heavy rain storm came.  While the clothes were drying, we were able to sit on River Forest Manor house back covered deck.  Axson came and spoke to us and offered us to be inside and watching TV, which we declined.  We also met a Chesapeake Bay Pilot, who works for Axson.  Phil and  the Pilot (didn't get his name) had lots to talk about.  After the clothes were folded, we had supper of flank steak, potatoes and green beans and a quiet evening reading.

Tuesday, Oct 26
Distance Traveled:  18.61 nm
Total Distance Traveled:  1067.66
River Forest Marina to Campbell Creek

We decided to go to Campbell Creek for the night as going all the way to Oriental, NC is 45 nm and the winds were to be high today.  We woke at 730am and it started to rain and storm shortly afterwards.  Phil went to take a shower when the rain had eased and then I took a shower after the rain stopped.  Phil also filled the water tanks and all the gallon water jugs.  We left the River Forest Marina at about 920am as we knew that we were going to have a short travel day.  Phil had been worried that the wind would blow us on the rock breakwall, but the winds were S 7-9 knots, so no problems.  Sail Away was waiting for a pump out and would meet us in Campbell Creek.  Once we got into Pungo River again, there were 7 boats ahead of us and 2 behind us.   By 1045am the winds had increased to 17-19 knots and the waves were 2 feet.  By 1245pm we were anchored in Campbell Creek, which is well protected from the S winds.  At 145pm we were joined by S/V Hairball, a cataraman and Sail Away arrived at 150pm.  We ate supper together, with us bringing leftovers and then we played Canasta.  Ken and I were partners and we were the winners for the evening.  It was hot - had been in the 80's today so the boat was warm.  We were so protected that there wasn't enough wind for me in the V-berth , so I moved to the port settee to catch a few breezes.  Needless to say, it wasn't a good sleeping night for me.  Glad that I have my books on my Ipod nano to listen to.  We also have been having more flies and tonight mosquitoes.  Ugh!  The winds are to be in the teens tomorrow still from the south, so Phil wants to go to Oriental, NC.  He's feeling like we're not getting south fast enough. I thought we were going to stay another day, but on we go.

Wed, Oct 27
Distance Traveled:  22.81 mi
Total Distance Traveled:  1090.47

We woke this morning at 700am.  It was 74F outside and 78F inside the boat.  We raised anchor at 720am and left the anchorage about 730am with Sail Away close behind.  We saw the sun rise under clouds and it's hazy.  One of the batteries wouldn't start the engine and Phil changed to the other battery. He didn't give the first one another try, and after motoring all the batteries are charged, so we think everything is ok. We started motoring in the canal part of the ICW and by 835am we were in the Bay River with the winds from the S 18-22 knost and gusts to 25 knots and the waves built to 3-4'.  We were heading SW, so we were able to sail upwind, keeping the engine on idle to charge the batteries.  We continued our current heading a couple miles past Maw point mark in the hopes that once we tacked  into the Neuse River to head to Oriental, we could continue to sail, but that didn't work out.  We were as close to the wind as we could be on Port tack and still needed to be 30-40 degrees up from where we were.  Phil rolled in the head sail then we started motoring S with the wind on the nose.  Up the waves we went, with the salt spray coming over the boat.  Our progress had slowed down to 2-3 knots.  I was at the helm and didn't get sea sick at all.  After we passed the Piney Point shoal mark, we decided to head into the Broad Creek to anchor.  We radioed Sail Away and they decided to continue on to Oriental, NC.  Turns out we should have stayed another day at Campbell Creek.  We dropped anchor at 1125am in very protected waters.  It was warm, but our thermometer was stepped on, so don't know how warm.  My guess is the upper 70's.  We ate warmed up spaghetti sauce that Jeanne had given us over previously cooked noodles for lunch.  The spaghetti sauce was great and it's all gone.  Thanks Jeanne!  I was tired so took a nap in the V-berth with lots of wind moving through the boat.  After I woke, the water had warmed up enough in the sun shower, that Phil and I both took showers in the head.  Boy did that feel good.  I fixed supper of Mexi Chili bake and am now working on the blog.

I can definitely tell that we are in salt water.  I can feel the stickiness of the salt on everything outside and we have to be very careful not to get it tracked all over down below.  I don't like this feeling, but I guess that I'm going to have to get use to it.  Phil has noticed that even though the decks are covered with salt from the salt water, it's not as slippery as other boats that he's been on.  Make Changes a lot safer.


  1. This is what I used to post the SPOT Map to our web page;
    I had to First signup for the Google Map API key at

  2. Hi Phil & Lorraine

    I hope all is well with you :) Just wanted to send a note to say thank you for sharing all the great info. Learned a lot. I've taken a lot of it and put it into a sort of guide that I'm preparing for a trip from Lake Ontario, down to Panama. I'm much further ahead of the game than I would have been without blogs like yours.

    Best wishes,

    Jason Kyriakou
    Toronto, Canada

  3. Hi Phil & Lorraine

    I hope all is well with you :) Just wanted to send a note to say thank you for sharing all the great info. Learned a lot. I've taken a lot of it and put it into a sort of guide that I'm preparing for a trip from Lake Ontario, down to Panama. I'm much further ahead of the game than I would have been without blogs like yours.

    Best wishes,

    Jason Kyriakou
    Toronto, Canada