In order to get across Pamilico Sound in what was forecast to be very good weather this was going to be one of our longest days underway on the trip. We expected to travel nearly 70 miles and planned for this to take about 10 hours depending on current.
We were off the dock by 0545 even though sunrise was going to be at 0623. We were not alone as there were several fishing boats heading out at the same time. After making our way through the Morehead/Beaufort harbor we were on our way up the Newport River and into the Core Creek and the AICW. This wound north and put us into what was called the Neuse River. This is a huge bay that is part of the total Pamlico Sound but this arm is connected to the Neuse River so is technically part of that river system. Pamlico sound is huge and is composed of a main body of water with many huge bays branching off of this. The Neuse River portion we were to transit was about 17 miles long where we turned into the Bay River arm for another 7 miles. We then transited the Goose Creek canal and waterway for about 10 miles of protected water before going back out into the Pamlico River Bay portion of the total. It was five miles across this arm and then we headed 11 miles up the Pungo River arm to the River Forest Marina.
Pamlico Sound can be a very nasty piece of water as all of the cruise guides and word of mouth confirm. It is quite shallow and strong winds against current can build steep chop with short wave length making for a very uncomfortable passage. We had vowed not to do this and were pleased that a favorable weather window had appeared at just the right time in our cruise plans. We would have stayed in Beaufort another day or so but the weather dictated that it would be prudent to travel when we did.
Our weather research had been fairly accurate and we had beautiful calm seas all along until we left the Goose Creek Canal. Upon reaching the Pamilico River portion the winds were blowing 10-15 mph out of the SE so stirred the water up to 2’ seas and whitecap level. When we turned to go down the Pungo River the wind kept building but the waves were on our stern and the ride was fine. Upon arrival at River Forrest Marina we discovered that the wind was now blowing 13-20 and there was little protection from the waves. The wind was blowing us off of the dock so coming in was an opportunity. Fortunately there was good help on the dock and Vicki got them the lines needed to hold us while we got situated. At least the wind was keeping us from banging into the dock but we continued to bounce throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening. The dock was fixed so we were moored against pilings.
After settling in we borrowed the marina golf cart and headed two miles into the town of Belhaven and the nearest grocery story for more provisions. The evening was spent on board (bouncing) researching future weather and cruise plans.