We left ElizabethCity just before sunrise for the long ride down to cross the PamlicoRiver and then into the AlligatorRiver. We were motoring into a beautiful sunrise with lots of red to make it almost a perfect picture and all the boats in our group took several photos of it and the boats framed in the sunrise. Entering the AlligatorRiver was a tight twisty channel. The shifting shoals had made moving the makes mandatory and our charts were all wrong. But we followed the marks and avoided the spots the guide mentioned and some recent local knowledge and got through ok. One big sail boat was stuck aground as we passed but was to big for us to pull but he got his main up and spun the big ketch and was able to back out as two other boats stood by to help. Assisting was difficult as they drew less water than we did. Once through we headed for the swing bridge and after slowing to let three other boats catch up we passed through. All the waters are fairly shallow and we followed the marks we headed down. Occasionally we would unroll the headsail as the wind backed enough to let us sail a bit. We rounded the corner at the bottom and just before the turn into the Alligator / PungoCanal we went into an area just past it and dropped the anchor next to some friends. There wasn’t enough time left to make the next stop for the day. I had spent most of the trip drilling the anchor for a trip line and in the morning I discovered that shaving were rusting all over the deck, does anyone know a good way to remove the stains???
We left as the sun came up and we could see the crab pots and headed into the Alligator / PungoCanal for another long motor boat ride to the PungoRiver. We emerged to find brisk winds on the nose but as we turned the corner a couple miles down we were able to unroll the headsail for a fast headsail reach in 20 knot winds all the way to Belhaven. We entered the harbour and almost got stuck on the shoal in the middle but were able to back out and head down to the end where we dropped anchor. The Skipper Bob write up for Belhaven must have been written by the local tourist board and they were very generous as we found little of what they described. Jeanne managed to find a nice bottle of wine in the hardware store though. Then we got caught in a rain storm and just when we thought it was done it started to rain as we motored out to the boat in the dingy. We had planned to stay a couple nights but changed our minds and made plans to head for Oriental with a overnight stop in Campbell Creek and arrived there about . We had a pot luck dinner with our friends on Changes. In the morning we headed for Oriental.
We motored out into the NeuseRiver and had a lively reach in 20 knot winds until turning the corner for the last 20 miles to Oriental. Then it was 20 on the nose and gusty and 4 foot building seas. Or speed was reduced to 3.5 to 4 knots. We kept slogging along and about half way or friends peeled of for an anchorage but we kept going. It looked so close… we finally got there and headed for Oriental Marina and had to back track when we got on the wrong side of a shoal in the harbour. We had a tough time getting into the fuel dock with the winds pushing us away from the dock but finally tied up and refueled. We elected to take a dock and relax and get some we earned showers and dinner ashore. We got into our slip after I tripped on the boat trying to leave the fuel dock and landed chest first on a stanchion. A painful lesson to be careful but luckily nothing broken. The marina had a happy hour and that went down good. We had internet and a coffee shop across the street and a marine resale shop not too far away and we browsed it for an hour and bought a few things. In the morning we went over to the free town dock and discovered a web cam on the dock and wrote a few friends to check us out. Next Beaufort and MooreheadCity.