Day 11 - 182 nm to go The full moon was bright as the sun rose to meet the day. The sun, not to be outdone by her nocturnal counterpart, splashed on the scene with flashy color and brilliance and soon diminished all thoughts of the previous night. It was duck pond calm and still quite cool . We had on our long-sleeved shirts once again to ward off the early morning chill.
As we entered Core Creek, shafts of sunlight highlighted the rising mist from the river, giving it a mystic kind of look.
It was a working day on the river. Shrimpers and trawlers were plying the local waters. Gulls crowded around them like gnats looking for an easy breakfast bite. Crabbers checked their pots. Men netted bait fish on the river's edge.
We moved from tiny waterway to waterway, one eye on the depth meter and one on the channel, but there were no adrenaline rushes today. The creeks were narrow, but easy enough to negotiate. The riverbanks were heavily forested wetlands. Big stumps and dead trees crowded into the creeks.
We crossed the wide, deep Neuse River, then worked our way along Goose Creek, across the Pamlico and headed up the Pungo River. We found a fine anchorage, midst crab pots, 20 miles up the Pungo River. There were no ATT bars, no houses, no nothing. We were in the backwoods of Nowheresville, North Carolina. David kept whistling “Dueling Banjos” as if someone hidden on shore might join in. We had no visitors, however, and by nightfall, five other cruising boats heading north up the ICW were anchored around us. We'd circled the wagons just in case the natives got restless.
Day 12 – ICW Mile marker 128 - 115 nm to go
There was no brilliant sunrise this morning. A cool, lackluster sun made its appearance without fanfare. The wind had picked up during the night and it was tending towards blustery on a grey, grey day. We were stuck good in mud and the chain and anchor needed a washdown. The nozzle on the hose popped off and headed directly for the drink. Darn … I made do with a thumb over the end of the hose, but put a new nozzle on the buy-list.
We extricated ourselves on a slalom course around anchored boats and crab pots and set out up the Pungo-Alligator Canal. A bald eagle flew by, too quick for a photo, but easy enough to recognize. I spotted another high up in a tree, looking stern and serious the way eagles do. There's something exhilarating about seeing an eagle in the wild.
There were lots of birds flitting about and their morning songs were vibrant in the early morning quiet. The evergreens were thick on the north side of the channel contrasting with the grassy wetlands to the south. Old tree trunks stood rotting along the riverside and encroached into the channel … or were we encroaching upon them? The smell was musty and acrid, like a damp, mildewed closet.
A very friendly butterfly flew into the cockpit and lighted on the captain's shoulder, then proceeded to hitch a ride with us for the next few miles riding on a fuel jug on the aft deck.
For some reason, dragonflies were out in great numbers today and as the wind increased, they hopped aboard and hung on for dear life. There were black ones the size of hummingbirds, yellow ones and green ones. They clung to lines and sheets and shrouds and one bright blue one found its way into the cockpit and lit on my finger for awhile, then my leg and then in the shelter of the windscreen. This one stuck around for several hours until we anchored, then left without a fare-thee-well.
We had the jib up as we crossed the Abermarle Sound … we were sailing! Well, at least motor-sailing. The wind was 15-20 knots and the Sound was rough and choppy with nasty square waves spaced only a couple seconds apart. We bounced along, avoided the ever-present crab pots and finally anchored in one of the few spots that afforded us the depth we needed. It wasn't the best spot for protection from the southwest winds, but it was the best we could find at the end of the day.