Saturday, January 16, 2016

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night

Isn't that how all the bad novels start?  We left the Alligator River Marina on Thursday morning, made our way through the Alligator River bridge and down the river to the canal that joins the Alligator to the Pungo river.  As in the past few days we have been doing a combination of motoring and motor sailing in order to make time.

I don't really like running the motors as I would rather sail, but in "the ditch" there isn't too much of an option to sail.  And when there is, the wind seems to be right on our nose (as noted on our Facebook page) Tacking back and forth against the wind across a river or bay takes a lot of time...more time than we want to spend on this somewhat chilly voyage trying to outrun the cold. So, until the temperatures are higher, we will probably just motor on.

We cross the Alligator and head into another long, straight, stretch of canal that connects the Alligator to the Pungo river.  We slowly make our way to our next stop, the Dowry Creek marina just outside Bellhaven, NC.  Having been at this marina before, I won't go into too much detail about it.  We tried filling our tanks there, but apparently ran them out of Diesel at 27 gallons.  Oh well, more than enough for another couple days of travel.

Last visit to Dowry Creek, same docking space this time.

Continuing our trek in the reverse of my first trip up the ICW, we left Dowry Creek for Oriental. Weather was supposed to be moving in late in the afternoon/evening, so we again made an early departure.When we came up this past summer, some of the roughest water we had was on the Pungo river. Fortunately this time it decided to show my wife that it can be nice and calm.  We motor sailed down and across the Pungo and made our way through the canal to the Neuse river.  The only excitement for this part of the trip were some duck hunters we didn't see on the banks of the canal...until the gunshots started and they popped up from their hiding places. From there it was a short motor sail to the Whittaker Point marina, another one I had stayed at before.

Whittaker Point as viewed from our face dock.

When we arrived, the sunny skies had given way to darkening gray, telling us the predicted weather was indeed going to arrive.  We tied up at the dock just as the rain started.  A little rain isn't so bad. Then it started pouring. Buckets. The dogs were not impressed by having to go out in it. Once the weather seemed to calm down a bit, we took the marina's courtesy car (some marinas have cars that transient boaters can use for local trips) to see the town and stop by the local grocery store to pick up a couple of snack items we thought would be nice to have.

And this is the point in the story where I get to gripe about Walmart.  The first time I was in Oriental, there was a Town & Country (IGA I think it was) grocery store and they just opened up one of those mini-Walmart things. Fast forward to this trip and the Town & Country has recently closed (with grafitti on the boarded window that states "Thanks Walmart").  To rub salt in the wound, just yesterday wally-world announced they will be closing a bunch of their little stores, including this one.  So, the town of Oriental may be without a grocery store.  I hope someone will come in to fill the void, and if they do, I hope they can get some sort of promise from the town that will protect them from any future big-box buffoonery. We absolutely hate shopping at Walmart and will avoid them whenever possible...but anymore, they are often the only store in town.

Image from

Anyway, when we got back to the boat we found that the winds had really started picking up.  We were being blown into the face dock hard.  And waves were rolling in the inlet and rocking our boat pretty good.  Over the next few hours we worked to tie and retie the boat, adding a couple additional lines.  With the fixed docks we had placed extra fenders out on the pilings, but with all the motion of the boat, the fenders walked their way around the poles.  With the help of the only other couple at the marina, we were able to get additional fenders in place and ride out the storm. A few frayed nerves, but this morning everything looks to be OK except for some algae smudges on the boat from the pilings.  Not the most restful night.

This morning at the dock...lots of fenders around that center piling.

Winds seem to be calming down this morning and the sun is out, so that is good.


  1. We're in South Florida and it's been non-stop storms, even tornado watches and warnings here. Very strange winter weather - hopefully it won't impede your progress too much!

    1. Weather has been kind of crazy everywhere. Just finished a cold and rainy trek down the ICW today. Making progress...but I woudn't call it pleasant. Hoping to find warmer weather soon.

  2. Hi Mike,
    Great to see you are making progress getting south. Have you decided to head offshore at Morehead City or continue south on the ICW for a bit more? Sailing in 30 degree temps and 15-20 knot winds- they call that Frostbiting in smaller sailboats, not sure about 38' cat. How is your temp dodger holding up?
    Anyway wishing you a speedy trip south.
    Doug in VT

    1. Hi Doug,
      Yes, we are making progress. Didn't head offshore, just motoring down the ICW. What would they call frostbiting when you add in gale warnings? There have been gale warnings most of the last few days. Seas sounded awful even if it were 80 degrees outside. The dodger is holding up fine, just wish it wrapped all the way around the cockpit. New sailboat rule...the only time the wind isn't on your nose is when it is driving cold rain at your beam.