Well, our first day out we made great strides despite the delays of Bridge openings and Lock schedules. We anchored behind (South of) Buck Island.
Up before dawn (which is what happens when the sun goes down at 7:15 in the evening and you are anchored far from civilization), there seemed to be no point in waiting around so we pulled the anchor up and were on our way before 0800.
With threatening skies and swells from the South as we entered open water, it did not seem likely that we would have an easy crossing of the somewhat notorious Albemare Sound. While not great, it was uneventful. Except for our passing of M/V Lady Catherine, the beautiful boat pictured below. Tess hailed her for more details and learned that she is a 1947 Trumpy, built in Annapolis and chartering out of Newport, Rhode Island and Stuart and Ft. Myers, Florida. Check her out at www.trumpycharters.com.
M/V Lady Catherine
While our “sail” plan had initially looked at an anchorage at the bottom of the Alligator River, we arrived there by 1400 so decided to continue on. That meant entering the 22 mile long Alligator River-Pungo River Canal. A mere ditch really. Nothing there. (Except stumps!) A boat ahead of us saw a Black Bear swim across his bow and exit stage left. Another, with a 64 foot height, queried everyone else about the upcoming Wilkerson Bridge. All ICW fixed bridges were designed at 65 feet. The builder of Wilkerson made a one foot mistake. The ICW Chartbooks note that Wilkerson can be even two more feet off from time-to-time (we are 62 feet, so we might squeeze through anyway and have not previously had a problem there). So the afternoon drama for our last three miles in the Canal was watching the 64 footer as they approached Wilkerson and snuck under (after what appeared to be a great deal of hesitation; and rightly so). When we arrived, the vertical height board at water level showed a 64 foot height. Too close for comfort and a day’s worth of anxiety for more than one boat.
Once into the Pungo River, we realized that we were among the last few boats still moving that afternoon. The rest stopped before or at Belhaven, while we crossed the River to Pungo Creek where we anchored now for the third time. Anchor set at 6:19. Below for cocktails at 6:20. Rain at 6:21. And it rained all night.
By Wednesday morning the rain had stopped and we were off before breakfast for a short day to Oriental, North Carolina. It was like being in a caravan as at least ten boats headed out of the Pungo at the same time and stayed in line all the way to the Neuse River. Though the sun did peak through, the wind piped up and we had a consistent 22 knots into the Neuse. Many sails went up, but we were now keen to make our destination and left the Neuse at Broad Creek for the River Dunes Marina.
River Dunes is a new 1,700 acre single family home development (only about 120 of a possible 1200 homes built to date), with a man-made lagoon designed for a 600 slip marina (130 now in place). A long, beautifully landscaped canal entrance off of Broad Creek might qualify this as the Venice of “Down East” (that’s what they call it) North Carolina. Very nice. At North Carolina prices, as well.
This place has the amenities one would seek for a vacation getaway! Pool, underlit at night, with fanned cabanas alongside; piped music ready for the next episode of The Bachelorette; exercise room; steam showers….and that’s all I saw on my way to the Laundry! I never went inside the main buildings. This is worth checking out again, but there is a monthly fee for the clubhouse amenities…however, the best amenity we received was the electricity for the heater. Oriental wasn’t any warmer than the rest of the trip south, and in fact, colder than New Jersey at the last check. No need for fans in the poolside cabanas this week.
Endurance will call it home for the next 42 days as we head back home, and elsewhere, for a short while on an increasingly complicated schedule.
At Home at River Dunes