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Friday, June 24, 2011

Little Alligator River to Elizabeth City

Little Alligator River would be a nice stay when winds are out of the west or SW. The cruising guide noted that anchoring there can be hazardous to your ground tackle due to the “snags.” That seems too polite a term for malevolent sunken trees and un-buoyed crab traps. We did find good holding ground, a true blessing once the winds freshened to 20+ knots out of the south. It was a rocking horse ride that one should be able to sleep through if one was not concerned about breaking ground tackle near a lee shore. The wind abated after 11 pm as forecast, and sleep could follow for me anyway, Myron was already asleep.
We left early in the morning to cross the infamously dreaded Albemarle Sound and encountered a light SW breeze, perfect conditions to bring out Big Betty (our white and red spinnaker) and ghost along at two to four knots. It did heat up at the entrance to the Pasquotank River, so Big Betty was retired for the day. Unfortunately, Big Betty took a dip in the Sound. This was pretty much thanks to Ziggy (Zig Zag, our auto-pilot) who chose to round up as we were both on the forward deck to bring down Big Betty. Simply a few moments of excitement after hours of relaxing sailing across a sound that has a rather bad reputation.
On the Pasquotank River we reached under jib and played a serious game of dodge crab pots. A few miles outside of Elizabeth City we were boarded by the Coast Guard. They made their request to board known but were sensitive enough to let us dodge more crab pots before boarding us underway. Officers Jans and Higgins both had about eight years in the USCG and looked like kids to us, but they were professional and courteous. After the inspection, inquiries and review of documentation, they printed out of passing inspection report but made no guarantees that we would not be boarded again. In all the inspection and inquiries, they never looked at or asked about flares. We found that to be an interesting gap in a safety check.
Elizabeth City has been fantastic. They have a free dock for visiting cruisers, limited to 48 hours except under certain circumstances, which we are apparently enjoying. The grocery store sends a shuttle to take us to/from their store. We can fill up our water tanks, the laundry is a little walk down the street and the people have been as friendly as can be. The food has been great and the museum is free. Tonight we watched an outdoor movie (‘Our Gang’) put on for the kids on the lawn in front of the docks. Tomorrow there is a farmer’s and craft market on the same lawn. I think we just fell in love with this town! We are going to ask permission to stay until Monday morning so we can go to church on Sunday.
Love to all,

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