Saturday, May 28, 2022

Do the conga

A quick update today, because the next two days will not lend themselves to typing under way. We are under way northbound in the Alligator River, part of the ICW, in North Carolina. We are in a conga line of northbound boats, a combination of snowbirds and Great Loopers, many of which have overtaken us since we entered the ICW around 7:30 this morning.

The remainder of our offshore passage to Beaufort was uneventful, and after dinner we arrived at the inlet early enough to avoid the worst of the ebb. As soon as we were inside and past the cable area in front of the Coast Guard station, we dropped the hook in our usual spot (map). Only one other boat was in the anchorage, about a quarter mile further upriver. Other than a couple of wakes, we had a quiet night.

After a very long day, I crashed early, which turned out to be a good thing because Louise roused me at 6:15 to inform me that a pair of towboats was headed right for us. It was the Virginia and the Camie, whom we had passed in the ocean 10:30 the previous morning. They had been hauling a hoist barge and a 1,100' raft of dredge pipe at just over three knots, and they came in the inlet to wait out the coming windstorm.

The two tugs deftly maneuvered their nearly quarter-mile long tow between us and the boat upriver of us, and then pushed the whole thing aground along the beach. It was fascinating to watch, and it was the right thing to be in the pilothouse with an enormous tug maneuvering less than 400' away, but that was it for my good night's sleep. We had some coffee and were under way by 7:30, catching the last of the flood.

Tug Camie pushing the pipe beachward. Tug Virginia is behind the Weeks hoist barge. They're closer to us than they look.

While we were still offshore Thursday, I had called ahead to Jarrett Bay Boat Works, just outside of Beaufort on our inland route, and had made a 10am appointment to have someone look at the boat for a rough estimate on a seriously overdue paint job. The idea was to get an idea of the cost, their capabilities, and their schedule, as they had come recommended to us by a couple of sources. The early start meant we arrived at the yard a full hour early, just before 9.

Notwithstanding that they had been open since 8am, we got no answer on the radio for a full ten minutes ahead of our arrival, and as we were just coming up to the docks I finally called on the phone to say we needed docking instructions. A couple of lackluster guys on the dock waved at us and pointed at an available space on the face dock.

Winds by this time had already built to 20mph, pushing us toward the dock, and I quickly spun around into the current and move up past a couple of very expensive sportfishers to let the wind push me in. But as we about 20' from the dock, the sounder rapidly dropped to 7', and we are a tide of +1 and dropping.  Unwilling to possibly be stuck in the mud until the afternoon's high tide, I powered away from the dock in a missed approached, and we circled back to say we needed a deeper spot.

It was at this point that one of the guys on the dock became rude and condescending toward Louise, who was doing the communication (I could hear nothing from up on the bridge). Something about how we did not know how to use our depth sounder, and that we were insufficiently respectful of their local knowledge. Louise was, quite rightly, so hopping mad after this that it would not have mattered how good their abilities or pricing was, there was no way we'd give them any business. I pulled back into the channel and we continued northbound on the ICW. No one from the yard ever called to ask where we were at 10am.

Sunset from our peaceful anchorage on the Pungo.

We had figured to be at Jarrett Bay long enough, between the estimate visit and possibly bunkering fuel, that we'd make it only as far as Adams Creek or maybe Broad Creek off the Neuse by day's end. But between the early start and the wave-off, we had the whole day ahead of us, and we decided to press on. With 30-40mph winds, our preferred route through Pamlico Sound was not an option, and so we bashed our way down the Neuse, rounded Maw Point into the Bay River, and continued north on the ICW, bound for Belhaven.

Under way I added additional fuel to the day tank for the longer run, and we spent some time looking at route timing for the sections coming up. From that we decided to pass Belhaven and run another 45 minutes to the last anchorage before the Alligator-Pungo Canal, a 20-mile stretch with no place at all to stop. We continued around the corner to get into a lee and dropped the hook in the Pungo River (map) just 3/4 of a mile from the canal.

This morning we got another early start to make it across the Albemarle Sound this afternoon, which will put us anchoring somewhere in the North River this evening, just a day's cruise from Chesapeake, where we can reprovision and bunker. At this writing, conditions look good for an outside run on Tuesday up past the Delmarva peninsula to at least as far as Delaware Bay. That would shave four days off our northbound journey and give us a very comfortable margin for New York harbor.

1 comment:

  1. I was hopping mad just reading about those locals. :)


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