Sunday: Ah! Back to our familiar and friendly stomping grounds of Belhaven, North Carolina and Belhaven Marina. We call Gregg and tell him to expect us and he’s waiting on the south dock ready to grab the lines from Tracy. There’s no need for fenders here because Gregg has the entire wall (both north and south) lines with 24” ball fenders at every piling for his boats. We traveled 42 nautical miles from Oriental and pull are docked and tied up by 1:45pm. There are a few other boats here moving north and we meet the crews of Meanders and Adventurous. Frankie recognizes the lawn right away and off he goes playing on the lawn. Our good friend Jim is here at the marina today talking with Gregg and he invites Gregg, Donna, Tracy & I to his house for dinner for Monday evening. I thaw out our two steaks and fire up the Belhaven Marina grill to grill up the ribeyes.
Monday: We planned to drive Kailani over to the town docks for a pumpout today, but the winds and waves are quite active, so we wait for calmer waters tomorrow. I take a walk over to the Ace Hardware to greet more good friends there and buy a few parts for some small repairs. When I return Tracy says she’d like to go over and walk the aisles to see if there’s anything there she could use, so after grilling up some cheeseburgers, we walk again over to Ace Hardware and buy a few more items from their shelves.
Making wind chimes out of shells collected by my granddaughters and gather along the way. -tc.
Tracy spends the afternoon roasting up some potatoes to bring over to Jim’s house and right after we finish our showers and are ready to drive over to Jim’s, another good customer of the marina shows up a day early and Gregg and I help him tie up and we convince him (Neil) to join us at Jim’s house for the famous double cut pork chops.
Dinner at Jim’s is incredibly delicious and his house is situated such that he gets spectacular sun rises and moon rises right over the water directly thru his property. He is looking to sell off three one-acre parcels of his land and Tracy walks it with Jim and is very interested is staying here in Belhaven. We’ll have to see how that develops going forward. We say our thank you’s and goodbye’s to Jim and call it a night.
Tuesday: Today I finish wiring up our new boat horn and we go get our pumpout. Then we spend the rest of the day socializing with some additional new boaters at the marina and with Neil. He tells me he has a plan to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in the next year. Jim bought a jet motored dinghy off Kenny Chesney’s yacht and he thought it had bad fuel in it, so he asked Gregg to burn out the bad fuel. Gregg said “grab a PFD and I’ll take you for a ride”! I jumped in with him and he cranked that twelve foot dinghy up to 50 plus miles per hour in the Pungo Creek. The engine sputtered that whole time and we both got completely doused with water spray from the stern of the dinghy. I had my cell phone in a waterproof case and it made three calls while we were underway and was wet when I took it out! Nick “butt dialed” all three people!! -tc
Dinner tonight for us was left-overs as we plan to cruise tomorrow to the Alligator River Marina.
Wednesday: It’s a beautiful morning and we go thru our pre-departure protocols while Gregg, Donna and Neil come over to say their goodbyes. At 9:40am we’re tooting our new horn to signal our departure and we’re off for another destination farther north. The Pungo River has some moderate chop, then it’s completely calm thru the Alligator-Pungo Canal, then once in the Alligator River we have moderate chop again. Immediately before our destination, we must get an opening from the Alligator River Bridge Tender. His job lately has been to coordinate the vessel traffic with the auto traffic and the bridge construction workers. So when we arrive, we end up holding position for thirty minutes while the tender determines that its safe to open the bridge for all parties. Once we’re thru the bridge, we turn immediately to port and cruise into Alligator River Marina where the dock master is waiting for our lines. We recognize each other as we had been one of their first customers to come thru after they had bought the marina from the previous owners and at 3:30pm we’re all secure and connected to power and water. We settle our bill in the office and learn that the grill in the convenience store is cooking fried chicken until 6pm so we decide to order it for our dinner.
Spotted by Nick while walking Frankie -tc
While eating our fried chicken two Carver cruisers come in and dock. They both have Canadian flags on their stern and AGLCE burgees on their bows. We meet them and have a nice evening discussing all about their travels and we tell them all about what to expect going north from here. Their home port is Wrights Marina in Georgian Bay and they promise that if we look them up when we’re passing thru, they’’ll show us the area.
Thursday: It’s decision time as there are stronger winds today and we must cross Albermarle Sound. Our new Canadian friends are both aiming for Elizabeth City and the Dismal Swamp while we are looking at the Virginia Cut and an anchorage just short of Coinjock. We all decide that since the winds and seas are forecasted to come out of the south, we can handle them on our sterns for the crossing. So Gil and Luc depart first, then Tracy takes Kailani off the dock and out to the Albermarle Sound where we all discover that the forecasters were off by 90 degrees on their winds and seas. We had both port beam seas and port beam winds meaning everything was coming out of the west, not the south! Oh well, the first two plus hours were an ‘E’ ride at DisneyWorld! Once we were in the North River we figured the winds would be blocked, but again, we aren’t weatherman and our spot for anchorage was not only shredded with crabpots, but was not protected from the winds or waves, so we decided that since the winds were forecasted to increase overnight, maybe we should just get a slip at Coinjock Marina and call it a night. Tracy called Coinjock and they said they had 30 boats already coming in for the night so we could go on a standby list. Then she called Midway Marina right across the cut from Coinjock and they accommodated us right away. So we were tied up and connected by 1:10 pm after a 36 nautical mile cruise.
After we docked eight more vessels came into Midway and filled their wall. Tracy made a delicious shrimp scampi for dinner and we slept to the rocking of Kailani from the winds.
Friday: Today we decide to spend an extra day at Midway Marina due to the weather forecast. There are still high winds predicted with short period wave action in Currituck Sound. We spend the day with a walk to some nearby areas, Tracy spends some time cleaning Kailani and I re-decorate the salon pole with nautical rope. We also get a confirmed reservation at Waterside Marina in Norfolk. This is the marina that just hosted the 2018 AGLCA Spring Rendezvous so we’re anxious to experience this beautiful facility right in downtown Norfolk. A nice relaxing quiet evening and we go to bed early for a planned early start tomorrow.
Saturday: Leaving Coinjock Cut early in the am today as we’re looking at 43 nautical miles to Norfolk. The total miles isn’t the issue, rather, within this cruise we have three bridges to open, one lock to pass thru and the last five miles of this leg is virtually a 100% no-wake zone. Tracy works the lines and I pull off the Midway Marina dock at 8:45am and we turn to head north. About three hours into this cruise we complete our second full state of travel. Just as we cross from North Carolina into Virginia we are approaching a sailboat and thru the binoculars I notice that it’s ‘a Run’ captained by our good friend Neil that we met in Belhaven. We chat on VHF 17 for a while and wish each other safe travels. Now we have the bridges to open and behind us are MV ‘Bear’ and MV ‘Main Course’. We keep the same formation through the three bridges and the lock, then in leaving the lock we tell Main Course and Bear to go ahead first and we’ll follow up after them. The Great Bridge Lock is a drop of one foot today and the walls are lined with bollards. As we come to a stop alongside the lock wall, the lockmaster takes the midway point of our dockline and wraps the bollard. Now we have both ends of the line and it’s secured around the bollard. Then its our responsibility to let the line out as Kailani goes down with the lock water.
As promised, the last five miles of the ICW are mostly heavy commercial and U S Navy property, so the whole area is a no wake zone and as we’re passing thru we hear someone on VHF 16 telling someone to obey the zone and slow down. On approach to Waterside Marina, we hear MV ‘Bear’ waiting for response on the radio along with us and another vessel, the ‘Intrepid” so the dockhands are very busy. We wait for the dockhands to finish up with ‘Bear’ and they walk down the dock to show us where to come in. We are secured and connected at 2:10pm for a total five hour and twenty five minute cruise today.
Norfolk is busy with tourists, residents, etc. walking along the harbor all day and into the evening. It’s a fairly warm afternoon and there’s lots of pedestrians out and about. We go over and catch a late lunch at Bluemoon Tap House right on the harbor with great views. Then we take a walk into downtown Norfolk to work off the meal. We’ll turn in early tonight so we can get another early start tomorrow as we cross the James River and start heading up the Chesapeake River. Tomorrow’s weather shows a nice day on the water even though there are thunderstorms in the forecast. We decide we can’t pass up the weather window because Monday may end up being a different story for cruising.
We’ve completed 523 nautical miles on the Great Loop and since leaving Connecticut last November we’ve travelled a total of 1,594 nautical miles.