Alligator River to Belhaven, NC

By aaron.axvig, 8 November, 2019

It was calm when we anchored last night and then the wind built up from the north overnight as expected.  I had the anchor alarm running and the anchor held well.  With only 0.5 miles of fetch the 20 knot winds were kicking up about 1 foot waves--it was pretty fresh!  But the canal to Belhaven runs mostly east-west and has lots of trees along shore so we figured it would be an OK day to travel.  I noticed that the depth sounder was showing about 1.5 feet deeper that when we anchored.  There is maybe a 0.5 foot tide so I think it was a wind-driven tide.  And I believe that caused water to flow with us through the canal as we flew through with a 1.5 knot favorable current.

At the far end we had about 12 miles of bays to cover so we lost the wind protection of trees a close shore.  I put the jib out and was able to back way off on the engine power and still maintain 6+ knots of speed.  It was only about 50 degrees and still 15-20 knot winds so pretty cold!  Anna is still sick so she mostly rested downstairs.  I started reading Godforsaken Sea while the autopilot did its thing.

We arrived at Belhaven and decided to stay at the town dock where it is only $1/foot so $37 for us plus $5 for electricity.  It will get down to 33F tonight so heat is great!  We hooked up the power in a different way that happens to let us see how much power the heating system uses...1500 watts continuous.  Our portable generator could actually sustain that output so possibly we will be able to run it at anchor in the future.  The startup current has overloaded the 3000 watt inverter when I tried to run it off of that in the past, but the inverter has a mode where it can combine generator plus battery power for a short time in excess of 3000 watts so we won't really know until I try it that way.

Docking was exciting as we needed to fit in between two other boats to side-tie on the dock.  I came in too slow and turned in too soon so it looked as though the wind would push us into the other boat's dinghy hanging off the back.  That would be very bad so I backed out of there but was restricted in that movement by the other shore of the small basin so for a few tense moments our dinghy was resting against some poles on land and our anchor was resting on the other boat's lifelines, stanchions, etc.  Fortunately nothing was damaged and the wind soon blew our back end around so I could reverse out of there.  For the second approach we decided to switch to the more favorable (due to prop walk) port side towards the dock.  Turning in the small basin for this added more excitement as we softly ran aground.  But eventually I approached with better speed and less early turn-in and the wind blew us nicely into the dock.

The local CVB caters to cruisers so we got a warm welcome from their staff.  There is a cruisers lounge with a book collection so I traded in a few books.  Also on tonight's list was impeller replacement, which seemingly went well--final test will be tomorrow when we fire up the engine and see if water comes out of the exhaust (it is supposed to).

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