Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Albemarle In January

When we went to bed last night, the weather forecasts were calling for high winds and cold temperatures.  The next leg of our trip would take us through the Albemarle Sound. and high winds would not be a good thing for crossing this body of water.  The Albemarle is a large, but shallow, sound with the average depth of something around 12 feet.  High winds with the long fetches of a sound and shallow depths would make for a very rough ride. So, we decided to sleep in a bit after two days of getting started at first light.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up to find clear sunny skies and relatively light winds.  It was cold though, the only part of the previous day's forecast that was right.  I check the forecast and the small craft advisory was now to expire at 10 AM and the new forecast called for decreasing winds as the day progressed. So, we decide we should press on.  We hastily prepare the boat for departure and leave the Pelican Marina around 9:20 AM.

After motoring out of the marina and a bit down the river (while we were finally getting some coffee made), we decide to put up the sails and actually sail the boat.  The winds away from shore were still in the 20's at the time and the forecast called for gusts up to 30 so we go with a second reef in the main.  Naturally, as soon as we get the sails up, the consistent wind goes fickle on us and starts shifing direction and speed.  We end up motor sailing with sails on everything from a broad reach to wing on wing, shaking the reef out along the way.  Would have preferred to not have the motor running, but it was necessary to make it to our next stop before dark.

I almost forgot this boat has sails.
The Albemarle was actually quite pleasant, not nearly as rough as the 30 knot winds during the night could have made it. Of course the winds continued to calm as well, but we kept the sails up as long as possible, even if they were only adding a half a knot to our speed.

We take a couple shortcuts off the ICW path since our 3' 7" draft allows a couple corners to be cut from the usual ICW path through the Albemarle.  From there we follow the markers for the ever-changing shoals at the mouth of the Alligator River. A short time down the Alligator River we make the right just before the bridge and head for the only marina in the area. We end up making it to the marina a little ahead of schedule.

The Alligator River Marina is the only one in this part of the ICW. It is owned by, and sits directly behind, a gas station that services the highway out to the Outer Banks.  The marina itself has reasonable fixed docks, a bath house with pay washers, and even a play area for pets.  This time of year, the gas station and cafe are closed, but I guess it normally has a selection of quick foods like hamburgers and such.

We are definitely making progress on this trip...just wish the temperatures would warm up a bit faster.  Can't wait until we are back in shorts weather again.


  1. Congratulations! tried to post earlier but unsucessfully. We share your pleasure at finally being underway, though you guys were a lot faster than we were . Although chilly it's a lovely time to go down the ICW. No crowds,quiet and peaceful. And beautiful. We start (fingers crossed)working on the hard tomorrow - boatyard willing - and hope to be done in a couple of weeks (HA!). Then launch and Bahamas -see you out there! Liz

    1. Just don't let a couple weeks turn into a couple months...seems projects can do that. Where are you now> Hope you are doing well and your projects do go fast.