November 4th- Across the Albemarle

One look at the smooth glasslike water of the Albemarle sound and we decided to add our Jerry Jugs of diesel to our main tank before we untied from our slip. During the ten minutes that we spent in the cockpit filling the tank the other boats tied up in Elizabeth city started to move. In less than ten minutes 5 boats had vacated the docks. The great boat migration had resumed. Sunrise was the signal and everyone was moving again. Boats from upriver were arriving at the drawbridge and we joined the southbound parade. We motored for about an hour before the wind finally started to build in, a light north breeze that was blowing just hard enough to tempt us to put up the sails. Stephanie came on deck excited to sail and quickly had the sails out of their bags and flying!

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When we shut off the motor we slowed down to less that 4 kts, which wouldn’t allow us to reach our anchorage before dark, so we began to motorsail. There was enough wind to keep the sails full and with a little boost from the engine we were soon moving a steady five knots. The wind continued to build and soon we cut the engine and enjoyed a fantastic broad reach across the Albemarle bay.

Non-Sailors note- A broad reach is when a boat is sailing with the wind coming from behind and to the side of you. It is great sailing because the sails stay full, and it is usually fast!

Although the wind cooperated for our sail across the bay I did have to spend about half of the time standing in a very cold rain. I was quite a bit envious of some of the boats around us that had full cockpit enclosures. Those sailors looked quite warm and dry. They must not have known what their masts were for though, almost none of them had sails up.

With the wind behind us we decided to try the entrance to the Alligator River under sail and we wove our way through the channel markers without any incidents. We continued our sail up the river towards the swing bridge. The bridge keeper must have liked the fact that we were sailing because he didn’t open the bridge until we got close enough to make it through. In order to head straight through the bridge we had to sail wing on wing ( straight downwind one sail on each side of the boat). Our friends on Serendipity later told us that you aren’t supposed to sail through bridges, but so far we haven’t been able to find that in any regulations…the bridge tender didn’t yell at us so the jury is still out on this one.

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We continued our sailing all the way up the remainder of the Alligator river, passing lots of large logs in the water. These were pretty scary, with just little pieces sticking out of the water to give you a hint at what is lurking just below the surface.

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We sailed all the way to our anchorage just within sight of the Alligator River – Pungo River canal. The terrain here is still very swampy, with trees growing in the water and no elevation on shore. Today we crossed the 2000 mile mark! Tomorrow we will tackle the canal and Pungo river.