Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Annual Migration

As we motor sailed down rivers, thousands of birds were heading south for the winter. Along with the birds are the sailors. We are never alone out here in the ICW(Intercoastal Waterway).
As we left Elizabeth City yesterday, there were at least 7 or 8 boats, mostly sail, in the parade. We had the longest day on the water yet, traveling 75 miles, from dawn to dusk, with cloudy, wet weather. Our leader, Chuck, felt it best to go as far as we could due to the weather forecast over the next few days of increasing rain and wind. There are no towns along the way on this stretch, but plenty of small bays and creeks to anchor in. There had to be a dozen boats in our anchorage last night with most of them leaving with us at dawn today to go another 50 miles and get into safe harbor before the weather turned worse. Presently we are in Broad Creek, safely at anchor, watching the rain come down, arriving just before the heavy rain. The music CD that our niece Laura put together is playing all our favorite sailing songs.

Tomorrow we will stay at River Dunes marina, right here in Broad Creek, for 2-3 days. We are hoping that our friends, Francis and Linda, who had to stay in Elizabeth City to get a new battery, will catch up with us. This marina has a reputation for "awesome showers" and we can't wait to get in one and see what people are talking about. Amazing what turns on boaters! Broad Creek is very close to Oriental, NC, which is supposed to be a lovely city. The marina has a courtesy van to get us there for some sightseeing.

For those of you who are interested in geography and the ICW, I will try to give you some idea of where we have traveled through. You can go onto google maps and pull up the satellite view to see the area. It is amazing how the ICW is pieced together to allow boat travel inside so that we don't have to be on the ocean. Right now the coastal forecast is for 10-15 foot waves and winds to 35 knots, while we can be traveling safely through 2 foot chop and 10-20 knot breezes.
If you don't care to know, just skip this section.

Elizabeth City sits at the top of the Pasquotank River, quite wide across, running into Albemarle Sound, a wide open expanse of water fifteen miles across, that was very similar to sailing in Lake Erie, in that it gets choppy with any kind of wind. After crossing the Albemarle, we entered a narrow strait leading to the Alligator River, which supposedly got it's name from all the alligators, but there aren't any now. The strait isn't straight, which is why some boats run aground. In fact, two power boats were sitting aground as all the sailboats motored through, staying in the narrow channel. Twenty five miles down the river, which is up to 4 mile across, we entered the Alligator River- Pungo River Canal, which is man-made, connecting the two bodies of water. It runs 23 miles and is quite narrow- maybe 200 yards across. Our anchorage last night was just off the entrance to the Pungo River, another wide-open fifteen mile, upside-down L-shaped River, emptying into the Pamlico River. Down another canal, through the Bay River and Neuse River, to Broad Creek. It is a variety of scenery and water conditions, everything shallow- mostly 10 to 20 feet deep. All for now...


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