Sunday, April 28, 2019

Alligator Marina to Elizabeth City

You can see the zig zag in the middle.

This was one of the crossings they warned us about. The Albemarle Sound. Experience loopers claim this one can be the worst. I surely hope so. I'd like not to do that again.

Alligator Marina is all that's here -- no town, no village. Just a gas station with a tiny fast food restaurant and the marina. But it's location makes it an ideal spot for loopers, who get ready to make the crossing or wait for the right weather window. The sound is longwise east to west, to any winds from either the east or west can create some bad waves. We'd been watching the weather for days, knowing this was coming.

We woke at 5:30 am this morning to the sound of someone starting their engines. Russ quickly checked the weather, and wouldn't you know it, the best weather window for the next five days was right now. (That wasn't the case when we went to bed, by the way). We didn't eat breakfast. We didn't even have coffee. We just untied the lines and we left. We were leaving the marina just as the sun was coming up, the third boat out in a parade of five.
Leaving as the sun came up

Along the Alligator river everything was fine. The wind was behind us, creating a following sea, making the ride pleasant. Russ made us coffee. Later I went down to the galley and made us some cereal for breakfast. I noticed we started bobbing a bit, which was expected since we got into the open waters. While the wind was southwest, the waves still seemed to be from the west, and getting rougher. Turns out, a small storm was developing in the west and moved eastward. Both the height and frequency of the waves intensified. By the time we got half way, our auto-pilot was having a hard time maintaining a direction, and the beam sea rocked us side to side. 

Russ turned the boat direction 45 degrees (you can see that in the map) so we'd take some of the wave energy on the quarter beam. That was a great strategy except off the known channel the sound was filled with crab pots. These are identified with some kind of floater bobbing on the surface. The problem is the rope that connects the floater to the crab trap below, and it's tendency to get tangled in your propellers. Not only are we fighting waves, but we're having to turn and spin to avoid the crab pots.

After we traveled that direction for about twenty minutes, we tacked back 90 degrees, taking the waves on the head. We bumped and slammed a number of times into the waves. We stayed on that course for thirty minutes or more before tacking back again another 90 degrees. Throughout all that, we kept dodging and weaving between crab pots. 

We made it. Then we hung out on the bow under
the new bimini to recover.
The weather predictions failed today. That weather Russ read about? We had none of that. Winds were supposed to be from the south, they came from the west. Seas were supposed to be 1 foot, they were closer to 2 - 3 feet. Winds were supposed to be around 8 knots. I glanced at our weather station readout a number of times; we had steady winds of nearly 20 knots (over 20 mph).

As we neared neared the Pasquotank River, things calmed down. Once on the river, is was almost like it never happened. The water smoothed out and the wind settled. By the time we docked in the free city docks, there was hardly any weather to speak of.

It only lasted about an hour. But it. Was. HORRIBLE!

1 comment:

  1. What the hell! I’m worried, this sounds very stressful & exhausting!


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