50 MPH Storm Wall Spun Us Around Like a Tonka Toy!
Our planned short stay in Beaufort, NC was extended significantly by the need for alternator maintenance. We’d noticed that the alternator had stopped charging and providing a signal to our tachometer a couple of days out, so we decided that Beaufort would be a good place to get things fixed.
No problem! We love Beaufort! We enjoyed the waterfront restaurants, the Saturday morning farmer’s market, and spending time with new friends. We rented a car and drove up to New Bern, NC for more farmer’s market and good eats. While there, we visited The Pepsi Store, the little pharmacy that was the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola back by 1893. It’s a great story. New Bern was a great visit and well worth the short drive from Beaufort.After ten days in Beaufort, we thought it high time to go before we had to declare residency. We’d been here ten days, the alternator was fixed with a new regulator and our food lockers were filled. We topped off our diesel and water and headed north into Adam’s Creek towards Oriental, NC. The area north of Beaufort, just before Adam’s Creek, can be confusing navigation. The inattentive boater can suddenly find himself hard aground and in need of a tow by one of the local tow companies. As we were approaching Adam’s Creek, we were passed by TowBoatUS, with lights flashing, headed towards the scene in the picture below. Note the boat captain standing next to his boat as TowBoatUS maneuvers into position. Late that afternoon, after a long slog up Adam’s Creek and passage across the Neuse River, we entered Oriental. This place was high on our list for a visit. We took a slip at the Oriental Harbor Marina, directly across from the processing plant where the shrimp boats unload their catch. Ordinarily, we would not prefer this location, but it turned out to be fascinating watching all the activity. Below is a short video of our location tucked far back into the bay. You can see Dejarlo parked in front of the hotel, across from the processing plant.
We departed Oriental and headed north up the Neuse River. At a length of 275 miles it is the largest river entirely contained in North Carolina. There was enough room and enough wind that we could put both the main and genoa up and enjoy some sailing for a couple of hours. Our next destination was Belhaven, NC, another small town high on our list to visit. It would take us two days to get there, with and overnight at anchor in Bonner Bay.
Bonner Bay is a huge anchorage area, just off the ICW. Even though there was plenty of room in the anchorage, we were a bit concerned about the possibility of storms that night and the fetch associated with such a large area. We dropped anchor in ten feet of water, putting out plenty of chain in case the winds picked up. This was a beautiful location, with only one other boat in the anchorage about a mile away. We sat in the cockpit that evening admiring the beauty and watching the intense storms rolling through to the north of us.
Suddenly, a rogue storm cell looked to be breaking from the main pack and heading in our direction! We quickly began gathering electronics, cushions, and anything else that might fly. Just as we were heading down the companionway, the storm wall hit us. We estimated wind gusts of more than fifty-miles per hour! Dejarlo is a big boat, and little affected by a little gust here and there. However, these winds put Dejarlo on her side at about thirty degrees and spun us around like a Tonka Toy! All we could do was hang on and wait for things to settle down. It sure got our attention! The high winds lasted about sixty seconds, it rained for an hour, and then it turned into a beautiful evening.
The next morning, after breakfast and coffee, we pulled up anchor and headed up Goose Creek, then across the Pamlico River, on our way into Belhaven, NC. We spent two nights at the small marina. We had originally planned on one night but were concerned about bad weather the next day. Of course, the forecast was wrong as that second day turned out to be beautiful. We made use of the time by walking around Belhaven and doing laundry.We departed after two days, heading first to a marina a half-mile north for fuel and a pump out before heading back out into the wide-open Alligator River.
Here’s a quick little timelapse video of our departure from our marina, then to the fuel dock of the other marina, and then out into open water.
Ten miles from the Belhaven breakwater, we entered the Alligator and Pungo River Canal, a 22-mile canal. It is long, narrow and very straight except for one 30-degree left hand turn. This was a long, hot and boring day! Our planned anchorage for the night was just a couple of miles after the exit from the canal, and we couldn’t wait. We saw less than a handful of boats, passed under two bridges and saw a little bit of wildlife. Other than that, it was a long hard slog. Here’s another time lapse of some of our time in the canal.Our anchorage for the night was an area just off the ICW called Deep Point. Like most of our anchorages, it was beautiful. We were all alone for a couple of hours until a small trawler joined us about a half-mile away. We had a glass of wine, a nice meal and settled in for the evening. The view we enjoyed that evening as the sun settled on the horizon was nothing short of spectacular! And then the air show began! About five miles from our anchorage is the Dare County Bombing Range, a Navy bombing range used primarily for the training of F/A-18 Hornets. Of course, on this date they were practicing night bombing, and their flight path into the bombing range was right over our anchorage, at low level!
It turned out to be fun watching the Navy boys in action, and they returned to their base at around 10:00 allowing us a full night’s sleep.
The following day we continued north up the Alligator River, settling in at anchor at the north end of the river and staged for the following day’s fourteen-mile crossing of Albemarle Sound. We’ll arrive in Elizabeth City that night and spend time celebrating Jane’s birthday and preparing for our passage up the Dismal Swamp.
We’ll have more on that portion of our trip later.