June 26, 2008
We spent two days in Elizabeth City at the Mariner’s Wharf Town Dock where boats may dock for 48 hours. There is no electricity or water, but it is a great service that the town provides. We had read that the Rose Buddies would greet us at the dock with a bouquet of roses and hold a wine and cheese party in the afternoon; however, this never materialized while we were there. We did talk with the woman in the Visitor’s Center, and she said one of the principal volunteers had died last year and now the Visitor’s Center did it “off and on if there were enough boats.” Guess we didn’t qualify for enough boats although the second night we were there we had company of 6 or 7 other boats.
After we had arrived and were securely docked, Bill took off in search of ice since all in the cooler had melted during our previous overnight. He went into the restaurant on the dock and asked if they’d sell him some ice. “No, we don’t sell ice.” “We’re dying for ice – please sell us some ice.” Eventually, Bill came back to the boat with a big green bucket of ice after promising to eat in the restaurant that evening. We did have a light meal at Grouper’s and retired early after our exhausting day coming through the Dismal. We were woken early by the Monday morning garbage truck emptying the dempsty dumpster. We found a place on the brochures to eat breakfast and headed out. We walked about 3 blocks, but easily found the Colonial Restaurant and had a plain old-fashioned breakfast. The couple in the booth in front of us asked if we had come in on our boat. We said, “yes,” and I asked if they could tell because we looked grungy and dirty. “Oh, no,” they protested, “you just have on a marina T-shirt (to me) and you just look tanned and relaxed.” Yea, right. I think it was the grungy, dirty look, and Bill’s beard probably was another clue. We talked with them for awhile. They also were sailors though they lived not far from Elizabeth City. All of the people we’ve met in Elizabeth City have been so friendly and nice. I guess they truly deserve their reputation of “Harbour of Hospitality.”
Unfortunately, the Albermarl Museum was closed on Monday, which is supposedly a great attraction. We walked around downtown and returned to the boat. We saw a tri-hull passing back and forth on the city dock. Bill called them on the radio and told them they could tie up at the city park since the docks weren’t wide enough to accommodate them. They were grateful for the information. After showers, we went to dinner at the Cypress Inn Grill which was highly recommended by Claiborne Young. We had ordered a drink when the crew from the tri-hull came in – a father and son team – Keko and Adrian – from Costa Rico. We invited them to join us for dinner, and we were glad we did. What a great conversation we had with them. Keko was originally from Minnesota, but ended up in Costa Rico. Both he and his children have dual citizenship. They bought the tri-hull and are taking it back to Costa Rico. Adrian, 15 years old, has a clear vision of what he wants to do. He will go to the Air Force Academy, and has every intention that that will happen. We wish him well and applaud his clear vision of his future. I have no doubt that it will happen. So, Adrian, when you are one day flying planes, dip your wings over Hilton Head and let us know that you’ve achieved your dream.
We left Elizabeth City and headed into the river toward Albermarle Sound. We were relatively free of crab pots and we passed the manufacturer of blimps. The buildings were huge and a blimp was ready to launch from the facility. Before we knew it, a Coast Guard pontoon boat was approaching us. It came alongside and asked if we’d ever been boarded by the Coast Guard. “No,” we said. Well, we were about to be! There was a crew of 5 on the boat, and soon, two were climbing aboard our boat. Well, how exciting was this? The young man and girl were on board to do a safety inspection. Bill took the young man below and showed him all our safety equipment. I talked with the female member of the crew who had been in the Coast Guard about a year. This was her first assignment, but she seemed very proficient in what she was doing. Everything checked out on Cool Breeze and we bid good-bye to our boarding party. I keep saying we’ve seen it all, but maybe not.
As we came to the end of the Elizabeth River and entered Albermarle Sound we encountered more crab pots than we’d ever seen in our life. Fortunately, the seas were relatively calm so we could see them, but we had no chance to hoist our sails, even though the wind was at a perfect angle. Bill was cursing the watermen, but I was somewhat sympathetic since I was reading Beautiful Swimmers.
We eventually made it across the sound to Alligator River Marina, where we’d stayed before. It is a great marina and we ate hamburgers at night and breakfast in the morning at the Short Second gas station. We left around 9:15 and had our longest day on the water since departing Hilton Head. Strong SW winds are predicted for tomorrow, so we wanted to make as many miles as possible today. Fifty + nautical miles is a record for us, but now we are safely anchored in Slade Creek. This is a beautiful, pristine anchorage, and we’re the only boat here. We’ll cross over to Oriental, NC tomorrow. No internet tonight, but we’ll be in touch tomorrow.