Crossing the Sounds

To reach Ocracoke, NC we crossed the Albemarle Sound (big waves), Croatan Sound (calm) and Pamlico Sound (both).  It took three days, and we’re happy to relax here now.

Elizabeth City Rainbow by Velocir

We left after a warm thunderstorm passed through Elizabeth City, NC and brought us this beautiful rainbow.  The forecast was 10-15 kts with favorable W winds, so we planned to do a 20 hour overnight and arrive in Ocracoke the next morning.

Before leaving we made a lee cloth (a cloth that holds you into your bunk when sleeping), pre-cooked a leek quiche for dinner, re-sealed the cockpit floor and made sure everything was stowed in place.

Amelia took the first watch from 4-8 pm coming out the Pasquotank River from Elizabeth City into the Albemarle Sound.  As the sun set she spotted the mark for the river entrance, but as the sky darkened it did not start flashing green as indicated on the chart.  We had just passed one of the largest USCG bases in the country, so we radioed them to let them know.

The Albemarle Sound had some big swell, and as we entered it was Grant’s 8-12 pm watch.  Grant sailed us through the rough swell and as we entered Croatan things started to calm down as the shore now protected us.  Our course was more southerly in the Croatan, but the wind hadn’t gone W as predicted.  It was still a steady S/SW, making our point of sail impossible once we entered the Pamlico.

This weather problem, combined with Amelia not being able to sleep through the rough Albemarle made us decide to anchor for the night and make it a three day journey.  We slept from 2300 to 0630 at anchor and then sailed south again.

Sunset by Velocir

The wind still wasn’t going west!  It is frustrating when you are physically sailing in the Pamlico, battling SW winds while at the same time listening to the radio weather service tell you there are W winds.

We did not find the the W wind, and after a long day of sailing to windward in 20 kts of breeze and 4 ft chop (the roughest conditions the boat has seen) we anchored in Long Shoal River, a bay off the NW area of Pamlico Sound.  It was super secluded and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

We had only seen a couple of fishing boats since we’d left and were feeling very much off the beaten track.  Most boats don’t come this way because A) there is a low fixed bridge of 45 ft. and B) it is more open water which people don’t like.

Balloons by Velocir

Finally, the next day on our last leg we spotted something in the water!  Balloons!  We were not the only other thing floating in the Pamlico.  It was a perfect day to sail across the Pamlico and we used our Navik windvane for most of the journey very successfully.

Ocracoke Ferry by Velocir

Then, as we made it into the channel of Ocracoke, the car ferries came out.  Then, bunches of dolphins swam around our boat!  We had made it back to civilization.

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