Friday, November 20, 2015

Gone to Carolina

We are under way across the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Winds today are 20kt gusting to 25, and we have four foot seas; fortunately, they are behind us. It's too dicey to take our preferred Pamlico Sound route, especially with winds increasing to 35kt overnight, so we are headed for the Alligator River and the inside route.

White caps on the Albemarle Sound.

Seas are on the starboard quarter and the boat is rolling a good ten degrees, even with the stabilizers set at maximum correction. I've increased speed to give them some more bite, and to keep the waves from overtaking us, but still our sophisticated roll/pitch/intensity meter, AKA Angel the cat, is sounding an alarm. The boat, of course, does not care, and so long as we keep the fridge door strapped closed and the glassware stowed, we should be fine.

Shortly after my last post, my Craigslist day laborer showed up with a pickup truck and I schlepped the battery over to the parking lot in the marina's dock cart. It was a ten minute ride to Battery Outlet and a quick transaction to swap batteries. I asked them to check with Deka on any possible warranty credit, but I am not expecting anything to come of that.

Defunct battery on its way out. It made the cart hard to pull -- tires need air.

Louise and I wrestled the new battery back onto the boat and lowered it into the engine room, and I had it all hooked up and back together before cocktail hour. Now that we've spent a couple of nights away from a power outlet I can report success; this lone battery was causing the whole bank to fall on its face, and now that it has been replaced we are back to most of our original capacity. We did not need to run the generator at all between anchoring yesterday afternoon and starting the main engine this morning.

Shiny new battery. Not much difference...

We had a nice dinner at the Amber Lantern restaurant, which made our dockage and power for the night free, and we remained at the dock most of the morning taking advantage. We dropped lines near slack tide to make the 1130 lock-through at the Great Bridge Lock for a noon opening at the bridge. We locked through with three other boats, including a sailboat that somehow managed to get itself sideways in the lock, delaying the closure of the gates by a few minutes.

Sideways sailboat.

Regular readers may remember that there are free docks on either side of the Great Bridge bridge, and while I am fonder of the more rough-and-ready bulkhead on the west side, we wanted to be through the bridge and not have to wait for it in the morning, so we proceeded to the wooden docks on the east side (map). These have been completely reconstructed since our last stay, and are nicer than many marina docks at which we've stayed.

Wednesday turned out to be a gorgeous day, and we took the opportunity to walk the lovely, wooded "loop trail" there at Battlefield Park. The whole park is in this strange limbo, wherein they are doing a great job maintaining the trails and the monuments and the parking area, and even having reconstructed the docks now twice, but still don't have the funds to build the planned visitor center, which stopped at the pile-driving phase. They have, at least, added a couple of porta-potties in the parking lot.

We had our usual fare at our favorite local restaurant, El Toro Loco. We thought we might get breakfast in the morning at one of the two nearby establishments, but it was raining when we got up and we opted to just move along. We dropped lines in time to get out ahead of the group awaiting the 9am bridge opening, so we could be first in line at the Centerville bridge for their 9:30 opening.

There was a giant tow on the other side of the Centerville bridge, and he agreed to wait for us to pass first, which meant we had a chance to make the North Landing bridge five miles south for their 10:00 opening. I figured that surely one or more of the boats now behind us would pass us between the bridges, putting us further back in the line and meaning we'd not need to arrive on the dot of 10:00. Shortly after passing the tug, I even announced as much on the radio.

Nevertheless, the pack behind us opted to just putt-putt along in our wake, and when it became clear we'd be at the front of the line, I had to wick it up to 2200 rpm just to avoid missing the opening. The bridge tender was none too happy with us as we cruised up to the open span at three minutes past the hour; then he ended up holding it for at least one of the boats that was behind me by another couple of minutes or so. That little exercise cost us an extra 3.5 gallons of fuel, but we ended up needing the half hour at the end of the day, and running the engine at that speed for half an hour every so often is actually good for it, given our typical usage.

We had an otherwise uneventful cruise, but with south winds we slammed into chop on the Currituck sound and we had the current against us through the Coinjock Cut. That all added up to a long day, and we dropped the hook just at sunset in the cove of Little Broad Creek off the North River (map), the best we could for for protection from the wind and waves. It was a little bouncy but not uncomfortable.

The winds clocked around overnight, putting the seas behind us today. All told I'd rather have the 5-10 on the nose and the 20-25 from behind than the other way around, so all is good. We're now in the Alligator River after a challenging entrance steering manually, and crossing our fingers that the swing bridge, which shuts down in high winds, will open for us.

Update: We are through the bridge, and tonight we should be anchored just past the Alligator-Pungo canal.


  1. Hi Sean, I'm curious about your powerplant. Running up to 2200 RPM leads me to think it may not be as large a displacement as I thought. Maybe you provided details before, but I don't remember reading them. What powers Vector?

    1. It is a Lugger 6108-A2, a marinized Komat'su 6D108 excavator engine. Mechanically controlled, turbocharged and aftercooled. Displacement is 7.15 liters (436 CID). Rated 370HP at 2600rpm, but torque peaks at 1600 and thermal efficiency at 2100.

    2. Thanks Sean - I found a lot information on this engine at Northern Lights.


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