Of our three cruising seasons, this is the earliest in the calendar that we have headed north, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s been the most challenging as far as weather is concerned. Winter and spring are still battling it out, so the trip has been filled with starts and stops. Chris Parker has been saying in his emails that this pattern has been more reminiscent of early spring than of May. Great.
We are currently in Belhaven, NC and have yet to be able to travel for more than three days in a row before having to stop for weather. And believe me, some of those days have been less than comfortable. We had a particularly rolly, rollicking ride north on the Neuse River with the wind blowing 20+ knots – fortunately behind us. It wasn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t make it any fun.
We had hoped to hop outside when the opportunity presented itself, but so far those times have been so infrequent that it has made more sense just to keep moving north on the ICW vs. sitting and waiting for a window to maybe open up. At times my frustration level has been high, to put it mildly. I am SO OVER the ICW.
That previous sentence aside, we did have a few nice days hiking on Cumberland Island:
I hit a low point in Wrightsville Beach, NC. We had waited out high winds in Carolina Beach for three nights and when we set off the wind was still MUCH higher than forecast (unbeknownst to us because the mooring field is so well protected). We were seeing a steady 25 knots so I called ahead to the swing bridge north of Wrightsville to make sure that it was opening.
“Nope, we’re not opening” was the bridge tender’s response, so we anchored at Wrightsville instead where I proceeded to have a meltdown. The weather was sucking, we were trying to hurry to Connecticut (because we are SO ready to be there and we had planned to get our vaccinations there), and I felt like we were getting thwarted at every turn. I was at the point where if it was an option I would have rented a car, hired a delivery captain, and told him we’d see him in Connecticut.
Posting my tale of woe in the Women Who Sail Facebook page, I received tons of good advice and sympathy. Regrouping, we decided to stop in Beaufort, NC for a week so we could get our vaccinations, and at least that would be off of our minds. I started to feel a bit better.
But wait! No! The forecast showed wind up to 35 knots in Beaufort during that week, but less further north. Scratch that. We’d get our vaccines in Norfolk instead. Sigh. Now we just needed to get north of Beaufort for the next blow.
After the aforementioned sleigh ride on the Neuse River, we tucked into the Broad Creek anchorage for two nights and then made a break for Belhaven. We checked into Dowry Creek Marina for two nights, planning to thread the needle between weather events to go up the Alligator River and across the Albemarle Sound – an area where you REALLY don’t want high wind.
But after one night, and looking at what felt like yet another stretch of travel where we would be looking over our shoulder at the weather racing up behind us, we called an audible. ENOUGH! ENOUGH!!
If we didn’t take this opportunity, it was going to be a week before we had another chance to cross the Albemarle. But what if we could simply extend our stay at the marina and get our Covid vaccinations here? No, we wouldn’t be any closer to Connecticut, but one of the reasons we were hurrying would disappear.
The weekly rate at the marina was very reasonable. We were able to book appointments online for Moderna vaccines that afternoon at the local Walgreens. Great!
But wait! No! The phone rang. It was Walgreens. We were the only two people signed up for that day and each vial has ten doses. They were trying not to waste any. They had eleven people signed up for the next day but they always get a few cancellations. Would we mind waiting until tomorrow or the day after?
We had been reading for over a week that most of the people who want their vaccines have had them. The goal now is to get shots in the arms of people who are reluctant. I have to say this is no way to go about it, particularly in an area where people aren’t super-enthused about getting them to begin with, and there is more than enough supply to go around. If someone who is reluctant to get a vaccine books an appointment, you don’t call them back and ask if they can wait – you welcome them with open arms.
Not wanting to be a jerk about it (or be wasteful), we agreed to wait, but I was pissed. And, not wanting to take no for an answer after being tantalizingly close to getting a vaccination, I called the local non-chain drug store. They had a few doses of J&J left, and absolutely we could come in this afternoon. Yay! Success!
So here we sit in Belhaven, vaccinated, waiting for an opportunity to go up the Alligator River and across the Albemarle Sound. At this point it looks like we’ll go up the Alligator River tomorrow, hold for a few days, and then cross the Albemarle towards the end of the week. Chris Parker is even saying there are signs that around mid-May the weather will stabilize for a while. Heck, maybe we’ll actually make it to Connecticut by Memorial Day.
All I know is that at this point we are only three travel days away from being in Norfolk with the ICW in our rear view mirror. Celebratory cocktails will most definitely be had when we get there. And after that, it’s less than a week of travel to Groton, Connecticut whether we go up via New Jersey and the East River, or a non-stop straight shot from Norfolk. I. Can’t. Wait.