So far this has been our best trip along the ICW – even though it’s been more chilly than we would prefer! One of the things we talked about last winter was slowing down on the boat and taking our time. Don’t rush unless weather is forcing our hand. There will always be another window. While this comes naturally to Jeff, it was much more of a challenge for me. But I think I’ve finally got it down. We’ve been poking along, riding the currents whenever we can – even if it means a shorter day – and all in all it’s been working out great.
We knew leaving Norfolk that it would be four or five days before we had a good window to cross the Albemarle, so we poked along the Dismal Swamp.
We had a short, ten mile day to Elizabeth’s Landing where we spent the night after stocking up with groceries at Food Lion. Then it was another quick eight mile day to Taylor’s Landing (another free dock on the Dismal).
After exiting the Dismal we had a slightly longer day to Goat Island, and then a quick six mile trip to Elizabeth City where we did laundry and had the best barbecue we’ve EVER had at Currituck BBQ.
Our patience was rewarded with a smooth as glass crossing of the Albemarle Sound and down the Alligator River.
Normally I find the Alligator-Pungo canal to be pretty boring, but this time Mother Nature entertained us. In the first few miles we approached a fog bank:
After the fog we had some rain showers, followed by this beautiful rainbow:
To top it off, we saw a deer swimming across the canal almost directly in front of us, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it. I really need to get a real camera.
We had originally planned to skip Belhaven (gasp!) for reasons that I can’t remember any more. Fortunately common sense prevailed, and we remembered we were taking it slow this time, so we made a spontaneous decision to anchor for two nights in one of our favorite small towns. From there we had a short day, stopping at RE Mayo for the first time.
RE Mayo has the cheapest diesel in the area, the freshest and cheapest shrimp straight off of the boat, and VERY rough docks where you can tie up for 40 cents/foot. We go by every year saying we’ll stop next time, and finally next time arrived. I don’t know if we’d stop overnight again (the barges going by overnight kick up quite a wake, even though they are moving slowly), but we’ll definitely pull up in the future to top off our diesel tank and buy more shrimp!
Waking up the next morning, we were keeping our eye on a strong weather system coming in a few days that, combined with a very late hurricane/Tropical Storm, was going to make things pretty snotty for awhile. Keeping that in mind, we made a reservation for a week at St. James Marina near Southport, NC and put the hammer down.
We skipped Oriental and as we were crossing the Neuse, I saw “Aphrodite” pop up on our AIS. It was going over 25 knots, and I said to Jeff, “Could that be THE Aphrodite?” I’ve blogged about Aphrodite before. Basically, anyone who boats in Fishers Island Sound knows Aphrodite. She’s stunning. We decided it couldn’t be – we were a LONG way from Southern New England – and a few minutes later we discovered we were wrong:
Apparently she heads south to Florida every year. Lucky delivery captain!
We were hurrying, but we still enjoyed the scenery along the North Carolina ICW. It’s a stretch I really enjoy because the inlets are so short, leaving you with a great view of the ocean every time you pass one. Of course the flip side is that you fight the currents part of the way, no matter when you leave.
A few short days later, we arrived at St. James Marina. We’ve stopped here a few times before, always for weather-related reasons. It’s the most protected marina in the area – a true hurricane hole – and we’re glad we planned so far ahead because they were sold out by the time we arrived.
We spent a week barely feeling a breeze as the wind honked at 25-30+ knots. Our fingers were crossed that once the weather passed we could get a window to hop outside to Georgetown or farther, but the window was much too sporty for our taste. Time to continue down the ICW!