River Dunes to AYB

Tropical Storm Colin threatened the coast so we opted to move a bit inland from Morehead City Yacht Basin to River Dunes near Oriental, NC. We had stayed at River Dunes last season and were impressed with the marina and the protection it offered from wind/waves/surge. The short 30 mile run was uneventful; the best kind. Northward up the Harlowe canal, out into the Pamlico Sound and, a few miles past Oriental into the Broad River and River Dunes, we are done for the day. We secure the boat well and settle in for a rainy and windy evening and presumably tropical storm the next day. Fortunately, Colin didn’t amount to much. It fooled the forecasters and traveled further offshore than predicted; we got some rain but very little wind. The best kind of tropical storm. We spend the “rainy day’ catching up on some maintenance. Two nights at River Dunes and we move on.

Shortly after dawn we awake to a bright sunny and windless day. We back out of our slip and motor carefully out the channel, dodging crab pots, straining to see against the glare of the rising sun on the water. Two or three turns and we are headed out onto Pamlico Bay. No seas at all; nice ride. We called up an old route on our chartplotter, activate the autopilot and motor north. We exit the Pamlico, enter the Bay River, Goose Creek, Pamlico River, then the Pungo River. Coastal communities pass one by one. Traffic is light; the occasional sport fishing boat races past. One or two have been kind and slowed to pass but most don’t have much in the way of courtesy and simply roar past at 20 knots putting out a 4 foot wake. A heavy and stabilized displacement boat like Tivoli isn’t affected too much but we still find it irritating; perhaps a holdover from our sailing days when the effect was often much more dramatic.

The day and miles pass; we approach the Pungo Creek Canal and recall an event here 5 years ago when moving the boat south after taking delivery in Chesapeake Bay. We had departed Atlantic Yacht Basin at dawn and ran full-out until last light making it all the way to this spot on the south end of the Pungo River Canal. My brother Jim and Captain Bernie were aboard and both stepped outside to set the anchor while I remained at the helm. It was dark by this time, cold, and to add to the fun, raining. The anchor refused to set and drug repeatedly. After much shouting, sign language, and anger we gave up. After at least 5 tries we hauled it up and continued our journey south looking for a better spot. About 5 miles down the road we picked a new location and finally anchored successfully. We were beat. Bernie suggested we throw the damn anchor away and get a Rocna. It was the first item we purchased when landing in North Palm Beach. We haven’t had the inclination to try and anchor at this spot since. It’s funny how five years seems like a moment on the one hand and a lifetime on the other.

All day long we experience 5 knots of wind and flat seas. We exit the Pungo River canal around 2:30 PM entering the Alligator River and are greeted by 20 knot winds gusting to 25 and whitecaps. Last time we anchored here it was in 3-4 foot wind waves and 20 knots. Seems like a pattern. As we turn north and face into the wind waves they break and spray the windshield; wipers on every minute or two. We slog north; I worry that the Alligator River Bridge may close as it will not open if winds exceed 35 knots. Fortunately, the winds remained under 35 and we sailed through with no waiting.

We had planned to continue across Albemarle Sound but with the winds as they were it seemed the better part of valor to hold up for the night and cross in calmer weather in the morning. Several boats were already at anchor on the north side of the bridge so we turned to port, nestled in among the others, and dropped the hook. Amazingly, within an hour the winds died completely. We enjoyed a calm evening, a beautiful sunset, and a glass of wine to celebrate a great run.

We arose to a fine day, picked up the anchor, and headed across Albemarle Sound. Seas were calm and we spend the better part of the two-hour crossing dodging crab pots. We managed to make it to the other side without dragging any behind Tivoli. We enter the North River and motor on, around bend after bend in the river, across wide bays, through the narrow canal at Coinjock, across the Currituck Sound, and so on. We pay attention to reports of shoal draft in several locations; these areas are now familiar to us but still careful attention is required. The only excitement of the day comes during encounters with oncoming barge traffic. The channel is narrow in places with very skinny water on both sides making it challenging to stay a comfortable distance away from oncoming traffic without running aground on the edge of the channel. Tivoli saw 2 feet under the keel and stirred up mud on the bottom twice in this section of the ICW. I’d prefer running aground to slamming into the side of a barge. One of the many reasons we would much prefer the offshore route.

Two swing bridges need to be negotiated prior to our arrival at Atlantic Yacht Basin. We miss the opening of the first by a couple minutes and have to wait another 30. Keeping the boat stopped in a bit of current or wind while waiting for a bridge is an art form; fortunately there is neither much current or wind here today. Once through, we calculate we will need to run at 9 knots to reach the next bridge opening time or wait another 30 minutes. We throttle up and soon Tivoli is racing along at 9 knots and happy to be doing so; temperature is a cool 185F and steady. The overtemp problem at wide open throttle has clearly been fixed and it pays off in situations like this where you need the extra speed. This is also an attribute of this particular model Nordhavn. It has a larger than normal engine giving it the ability to do 10 knots if needed yet still idle along at 6-7 and get low fuel burn and great range. A nice combination.

We arrive at AYB, tie up to the face wall, and soon discover friends on Changing Course and Waterford, both Krogens, are tied up on the same dock. Great to see them again. Last time we saw Waterford was in Stuart FL and last time we saw Changing Course was in Georgetown, Bahamas. Changing Course is also headed to Maine so we may travel with them if weather allows next week.

We will stay here a few days to get mail and, of course, work on a few small boat projects.


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