19 November 2006

Beaufort, North Carolina

November 19, 2006

We are writing this anchored in Beaufort ("Bo-fort"), North Carolina, just east of the southern end of the Outer Banks. Apparently, the town offers free wireless. We left Elizabeth City on Friday morning and had a beautiful sail across the Albemarle Sound. The Sound is reputed to have unpleasant sailing conditions, including short, steep waves, but we picked a day with 10-15 knot winds and were able to cross on a beam reach averaging about 5 or more knots comfortably. After crossing we motored through the Alligator Swing Bridge and then continued to sail the 15 miles down the Alligator River to our anchorage, just at the entrance to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal.
Alligator Swing Bridge

All the other boats we saw were motor-sailing, but we had a lot of time to make it to our anchorage before sunset so we steadily sailed along at a relaxed pace. The scenery has changed from forests to swamps and marshes.

Our anchorage was a little more out in the open than we've become accustomed to, so we were thankful for our large anchor. We tried out our new Coleman stove-top oven for the first time to make a spaghetti-chicken casserole. Perhaps not the epitomy of culinary arts, but hot and filling, so it passed the test. After dinner we went on the foredeck and marvelled at the stars. We saw the milky way, and there were so many stars that we were unable to find the big dipper. Pretty amazing.

On Saturday morning we woke up warly and started motoring down the Canal with the goal of getting south of the Pamlico River to anchor for the night. The canal was pretty with lots of marshes and undeveloped land, but I think we were both a little too tired and fed-up of motoring to really appreciate it.

On the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal

The shoreline of the Pungo River

Once out of the Canal and into the Pungo River, we were able to unfurl the jib and motorsail. The winds were just not strong enough to sail properly. The first excitement of the day was hearing our friends Rupert and Dorrie over the VHF communicate with another boat. We had caught up with them! We quickly got on the VHF and planned to anchor together in the same creek for the night. The second excitment of the day happened when we left the Pungo River and entered the Pamlico River. All of a sudden two (or maybe it was just one) dolphins were swimming in our bow wave. We both ran to the bow and watched as they swam alongside Whisper and then took off to the side to jump a little. They then fell back just to repeat the process. If we had laid down on the deck we probably could have reached out to touch them. I (Kristen) had hoped we would see dolphins, but I never imagined they would come so close.


After motoring down Goose Creek for a couple miles, we caught up with Rupert and Dorrie on "Sandpiper" and found a nice spot to anchor for the night. We were surrounded by marshland--very peaceful, until we all started singing (wailing). We had a fun evening eating good food, drinking wine and playing guitar, washboard, flute, etc. and singing.

hanging out in the cockpit at sunset

playing some guitar and washboard...trying to remember lyrics to songs and failing miserably.

Kristen trying out the new dinghy

Whisper at anchor in Goose Creek

Kit kat looking at us from Whisper as we dinghied over to Sandpiper, mad that she wasn't invited to join in the fun.

This morning (Sunday), in anticipation of light winds, we switched the jib with the genoa and weighed anchor around 8:30.


Sandpiper at sunrise.

After motoring a short distance out the creek, we were quickly able to turn the engine off and sail. Unfortunately, after a few hours, the winds died and we had to turn old Boris back on again. We chose good weather for sailing the Neuse River as it has quite a nasty reputation, however we had minimal waves and light winds.

Whsiper sailing wing and wing down the Neuse
A catamaran sailing with their spinnaker. They caught up to us, overtook us and disappeared over the horizon. I swear I heard Whisper say "I want a spinnaker"...

Tonight we're anchored in Beaufort, North Carolina. It's a pretty crowded anchorage, but after a few circles around we were able to find a good spot to drop the hook. Tomorrow we're off to Morehead City, North Carolina, just down the ICW a few miles where we'll tie up to a marina and take showers. I've almost forgotten what it's like to have clean hair.