We are anchored in the North River in North Carolina, near Broad Creek (map). We chose this spot to provide a bit of shelter from southerly winds tonight; on previous stops we've anchored on the other side of the river. This is really the last spot to anchor before crossing the Albermarle Sound, and we dropped the hook right around 3pm, with a couple of hours of daylight left.
We got moving this morning with the 8am bridge opening at Great Bridge, after a brief discussion of the weather over coffee. There was a small craft advisory on Currituck Sound, with winds forecast at 15-20 and two foot seas. This time last year, that forecast would have put us off, but a full year's more experience has given us more confidence in the boat and our abilities. As it turned out, the sound was no problem at all. We did end up meeting a 50' wide work vessel in the shallowest part of the day's run, but that turned out to be a CoE dredge (on his way to Norfolk) and we had a nice chat about shoaling in that area.
The stuffing box is still running too hot. Wicking it up to 2,300 rpm to make the North Landing bridge opening did not help matters, but with cold seawater and a cool engine room we've been getting by with frequent checks and occasional reverse operation to move some more water through. I speculated this might be the result of not enough packing in the box to direct the water flow properly, so this evening I repacked the box and put the sixth ring back in its proper place. We'll see how it does tomorrow. I'm running out of things to try.
From here our preferred route would be via Croatan and Pamlico sounds, which would put us in Beaufort for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the Pamlico is terrible for Wednesday, so that's not really an option. I have reluctantly plotted a course instead along the ICW route via the Alligator and Pungo rivers. This route is both longer and slower, and the farthest we could be by Thursday afternoon would be Oriental. One stop before that is Belhaven, and those would seem to be our two holiday meal options. I have not yet identified anyplace in either town open for dinner, so that's tomorrow's project.
It's another thousand miles, give or take, to where we'd like to be to meet up with our friends in Florida. It's another couple hundred miles beyond that to Key West, where we have reservations for Christmas. I hope we will make it, but at this writing it is looking questionable. It certainly won't happen if I can't solve the stuffing box problem. At least we are moving, finally, in the right direction.