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!

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.



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.

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.

Up Delaware Bay

Last night our lengthy stay in Cape May finally paid off (not that we expected it would) as we met a great group of young cruising friends! No offense to our older cruising friends, of course, but it was nice to know that people in our age group are sailing. We had a fabulous evening with the crew of Anthyllide, Scott & Kimberly, who are venturing into their seventh year of cruising and the crew of Serendipity, Matt & Jessica, who are embarking on their cruising lifestyle just as we are. We decided to cruise together through the Delaware Bay as we are all on similar schedules and heading to the Bahamas for the winter.

We had a GREAT sail today. The morning started off when Matt and Jessica came by in their dinghy and we headed in to the yard sale at Utsch’s Marina. Steph and I made out really well. I acquired some fishing equipment that I have been wishing I had on the boat, but the big news is that we finally decided to buy an outboard for our dinghy. Our paddles to shore have been getting longer and longer, and we decided it was time. We are now the proud owners of a used but in very good shape Nissan outboard.

We hurried back to Rode Trip to get our anchor up and we left right on time to catch the current up the Delaware Bay. Our first step was to motor through the Cape May Canal. The clearances above the top of our mast were a little closer than we have been used to, but we made it under the fixed bridges with 7 feet to spare. It is very unnerving standing on the boat looking up at the top of the mast. The angle of looking directly up the mast makes it look like the mast is going to hit the bridge every time.


Motoring through the canal went very quickly and we raised our sails as we were exiting the canal. Matt and Jessica took the direct route up the bay, while Stephanie and I took a slightly longer track where we headed out until we caught the stronger current near the shipping channel. This was a good decision as we won our imaginary race with Serendipity. Who knew the Wetsnail had so much get up and go!? We had a great broad reach up the bay with the current pushing us. We were moving along at 7 and sometimes 8 knots with only small waves.


We took advantage of our windvane again and both Stephanie and I were free to move about the boat while keeping an eye out for other vessels.


You can see in this picture the control lines rigged to the tiller. We are really enjoying using the windvane instead of hand steering all the time. We aren’t very good at it yet, so it takes a long time for us to “tune” the windvane to actually steer the course we want, but once it is setup it works wonderfully.

“Look ma no hands”

We sailed past the “Ship John Shoal” which has a lighthouse standing on it out in the middle of Delaware bay.

We also sailed past a Nuclear power plant.


As we made our way farther up the bay the current kept pushing us faster and faster. By the time we were nearing the C & D canal we were doing a consistent 8+ knots! Unfortunately we picked up hundreds and hundreds of little black flies that thought it would be nicer inside our cabin than being blown around outside. When we finally realized they were sneaking in we put up the screens but it was really too late. I spent a lot of time killing flies this afternoon…and this evening.

It turns out that going out of our way to catch the extra current paid off, and we arrived at the C&D canal just ahead of Matt and Jess. Stephanie took the helm and motored us safely through the canal while I went below and cooked up a chicken curry.




Shortly after coming out of the C&D the sun went down and we were caught in a small thunderstorm. The rain came down in buckets while we motored for our intended anchorage. We arrived and dropped the anchor only to discover that the wave action was going to make for a very uncomfortable stay. We only stayed long enough for the lightning to move out of our area and then we picked up the hook, and headed across the channel to “cabin John creek”. The water is very still here and we are looking forward to a good nights sleep.