Tuesday, June 26, 2012

North on the ICW - Day 7

[Kyle]Day seven was going to be another boring day. It started with a long lonely trip down the Alligator River. There wasn’t much to do except monitor the course for drift caused by the currents and avoid crab pot floats. On one section with no floats, I went around soaping up the deck and rinsing it down with buckets of tea colored water scooped up along the way. It left the deck salty and slightly sepia colored, but the footprints and blobs of mud flung around by the anchor windlass were gone. I gave the cockpit and my feet a rinse with fresh tank water so I wouldn’t be tracing salt inside.

At the mouth of the river, I passed through the infamous bridge. I was a little disconcerted when the operator started shutting it before I was through. The part of the bridge I was near was actually moving away from me, but you think those guys would have learned their lesson and waited ten more seconds. I guess he was feeling the pressure from the traffic. There were sixty cars waiting one direction, fifteen the other. The bridge was closed for five minutes to let me through. It always amazes me that they’ll stop that much traffic for that long just so one guy can get through in his personal sailboat.

After that, my ride across Albemarle Sound and up the Pasquotank River was much like my ride down the Alligator.

I had originally planned to stop in Elizabeth City just for something to do, then I realized I would have to be underway at 4:30 to make the first canal opening at the Dismal Swamp Canal the next day, so I pushed on for a few more miles.

As the river narrowed at Elizabeth City, I called the lift bridge operator there to request an opening. I told him I was northbound and 3/4 mile out.

“Which way you goin’?”


“Which waysat?”

“Uh, North.” Sheesh!

“Come on in, when I can see ya, I’ll drive the bridge open for ya.”

When I got in sight, which was after a bend very close to the bridge, I slowed to a stop and waited. There was no sign the bridge was about to move; No lights, no traffic barricades coming down.

After a couple of minutes, he called me, “Sailboat by th’ ‘lizabeth City bridge, yuh got y’r ears on?”

“Yeah, Go ahead.”

“Y’all want a drive?”



“Yes, please”

“Well, in the future, we’d appreciate a call before yuh just show up.”

“Okay. I just called you ten minutes ago.”

“Alright, then. Just give us a call next time.”

Where did they dig up that guy?

Once I got above the bridge, the river became pretty as it meandered through increasingly close cypress swamp.

I was about a mile from the anchorage when the sky opened up. It rinsed all of the salt off the deck and then some. A thousand gallons of water must have fallen on the deck in the space of about ten minutes. It was like I motored under a waterfall. The banks on either side of the river disappeared. I couldn’t see. Even though I was under the bimini, there was so much rain bouncing up off of the deck into my eyes that everything was a blur. There was no way to face without getting soaked. It was like I was in a car wash.

The lightning started. It takes seven seconds for sound to travel a mile. More than fifty times, I saw the flash and heard the crack of thunder before I made it to three. I saw it hit the water in front of me twice and I couldn’t even see the riverbank ¼ mile away.

When I got to the anchorage, I was pretty chuffed. Mother Nature had got the timing wrong. I knew that storm was meant for me when I was out on deck deploying the anchor, but it was over by the time I got there. I enjoyed beautiful weather in a peaceful anchorage.

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