We left the NC Visitor’s center in the early morning with very cold temps and fog drifting across the water. All of the boats except for our neighbor quickly dropped their lines and formed a parade down to the South Mills lock. The boat next to us called Highborn Lady had some very interesting owners–a couple in their 80’s who have been cruising for 28 years. They had a piano and a fireplace on their boat–amazing people with great stories!
We’ve already met so many nice people. Many of them also know our friends in the Chesapeake Sailing Club. For a small club, those people get around!
We were last in line to arrive at the lock and weren’t sure if we would get in. As it turned out, we tied up to another boat and were in the center of the lock. The best part was that we didn’t have to do any work! The water slowly dropped about 6 feet so we could exit on the other side. Just past the lock we passed a catamaran that had hit a log and damaged their rudder. They called a tow boat and we saw them again late in the evening finally being pulled into Elizabeth City. Long day for them…
The canal went on for several more miles and emptied into the Pasquotank River. The river is much wider and winds through a cypress marsh. After waiting for the Elizabeth City bridge to open for us we made our way to the free dock at the town’s waterfront. A host of cruisers and locals helped take our lines and tie us up. Short finger piers made it very precarious getting off the boat (but who can complain when it’s free!)
Elizabeth City is known for its hospitality and we experienced it at 4:30pm when the locals host a wine and cheese welcoming party. All of the visiting cruising boats gather and chat while the ‘mayor’ provides information about the restaurants and activities in town. Dinner was wonderful at the Cypress Landing restaurant (Skip had the ultimate peanut butter pie!) The night was very chilly since free dock meant no electric hookup which meant no heat! Our little oil lamp provided a little comfort and I went to sleep before 9pm!
This was one place where we could possibly sail so we took of the mainsail cover for the first time in a week. The breeze was NE and behind us which was good for sailing. We sailed part of the way and motored the rest of the trip since it was difficult to maintain speed dead downwind. As we approached the Alligator River, the wind and waves picked up and it was an uncomfortable ride until we passed the breakwater at the Alligator River marina. The marina is very nice with a gas station that serves both motorists and boats. They also serve food — we’re going to try it out tonight!
I should mention that there aren’t any alligators left in the river and I’m very happy about that! Both Bailey and I hope to not have any close encounters with alligators on this trip!!