Dodging Crab Pots on Albemarle Sound and Looking for Jane’s Rose

September 1, 2018

After a quiet night at our Deep Point anchorage, we had a short, easy day sailing and motoring up the Alligator River. Now, for those of us from the Midwest, we think of a river as a long, slender, winding waterway. Jane and I have always thought a river is like the Mississippi, Missouri or Illinois. By contrast, rivers around here are usually large, open bodies of water. The Alligator River is a large, wide-open body of water, and even though our passage up the Alligator was a short day, it was like we were on a small ocean.

After a long, hot day of mostly motoring, we made our way through the 15,000 foot long Alligator River Bridge, located on the northern end of the river, and studied several options for the night’s anchorage. We wanted to find an anchorage with good protection from wind and swells, yet as close as possible to the entrance to Albemarle Sound, our next day’s passage.

We chose an anchorage just off Sandy Point in about ten feet of water. This put us only a little over a mile from the entrance to the Albemarle. Later, we were joined by a couple more boats preparing for the same crossing. Unfortunately, there developed a heavy and uncomfortable swell coming out of the east that rocked the boat until the early morning hours. It was one of the worst nights of sleep we’d had on the boat and we were anxious to pull up anchor early the next morning and start our crossing of the Albemarle.

The Albemarle Sound crossing would take us across fourteen miles of wide-open water from Sandy Point to the entrance of the Pasquotank River, leading us into Elizabeth City. We’d been apprehensive about this crossing for some time. After all, it was our longest crossing, and we’d heard all the horror stories about bad weather kicking up in the middle of the Albemarle causing nightmare crossings for boats caught in the middle. We studied various sources of the weather late into the night. Confident that the weather was going to cooperate, we proceeded across.

Carefully scanning the horizon for crab pots. Running down a crab pot and getting the crab pot line wrapped up in the prop is a big problem, requiring someone (John) getting into the water and cutting the line free.

It turned out to be a beautiful day – although hot – for the crossing with little wind and minuscule waves. Our only problem for this crossing involved all the crab pots that had to be avoided. The damn things were everywhere! And there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to their deployment by the crab fishermen.


A hot day on Albemarle Sound requires high-tech equipment for cooling the crew.

After the completion of our crossing of the Sound we entered the Pasquotank River. We still had another sixteen miles up the Pasquotank before arriving in Elizabeth City. We soon noticed a large, strange, white structure on the horizon, looking somewhat like the giant Pillsbury Dough Boy in the movie, “Ghostbusters”. It just seemed out of place with the surrounding landscape. It turns out that they make blimps in Elizabeth City and we were viewing a large blimp. I guess they need to make them somewhere.

A strange white blob appears on the horizon.

Elizabeth City, NC sits at the southern entrance of the Dismal Swamp and is a well known stopping point for cruisers transiting the Dismal Swamp. We took a slip at Pelican Marina (only $35 per night!) anxious to get off the boat and walk the waterfront of Elizabeth City, sight of so many photos and videos we had studied in preparation for this day.

The Elizabeth City waterfront.

For years cruisers visiting the Elizabeth City waterfront were greeted in a very unique way. No description of this tradition is better than that of the stone memorial located at the waterfront park …


A once luxury yacht for its proud owner, battered by weather, wind, waves and time, sits high aground just off Elizabeth City. We see sights like this all along the ICW, a sign of the never-ending struggle between boats, hurricanes and insurance companies.

We spent a couple of nights in Elizabeth City before departing for our entrance into the famous Dismal Swamp. We’ll have a full description – with photos and video – of that wonderful two-day trip in our next blog post.

Until next time …

1 Comment
  1. Reply


    September 1, 2018

    Hi John and Jane,
    I love the reference to the Dismal Swap..sounds like something straight out of the Fellowship of the Ring.

    Rose Buddies is the sweetest monument.

    Hope you don’t have to cut any crab pot lines in Alligator Swamp..

    Love the posts and pictures