April 29, 2016 – Friday – Alligator Marina to Jennette Brothers Free Dock, Elizabeth City – 36.2 miles traveled

We woke at dawn and looked at weather forecasts once again. Nothing had changed so we continued with the plan to go. We were off the dock at 0705 and left the harbor to find 1-2 foot waves just outside. The sailboat Alani had pulled out of the harbor just in front of us but they were going slow so we passed them and headed toward the mouth of the Alligator River and the very shallow bank there called “Middle Ground”

Just as we hit Middle Ground and were trying to weave through the narrow channels into Albemarle Sound proper we began to hit very rough seas. Average wave height may have been only three to four feet but the additive superposition was probably often as much as six feet. As the entire Albemarle Sound is only 18 feet deep or less the wavelength is very short so the boat was pitching like crazy. This would be the first time on the trip we were shooting off of one wave and dropping down in the trough ahead such that we buried the bow clear to the gunnels and on occasion had green water coming over the bow and running down the side decks to the scuppers.

Alani had called on vhf to ask if they could follow along behind as they would feel more comfortable crossing with a buddy boat. Of course we liked that idea too so were happy to have the company. We considered returning to port but the sea conditions were such that turning around would not have been a prudent thing to do so we continued to slog on. The waves were knocking our normal speed of about 7.5 mph, through the water, down to 3 mph at times so we knew it would be a long battle. I am sure glad I had recently put another coating of Rainex on the windshield as the continual spray on the front windows ran off easily so I could still see well. There was no point in running the windshield wipers as the water spray was heavy enough that they couldn’t make much progress.

Crash had left the dock shortly after we did and passed us at Middle Ground. We called ahead to Crash, when we thought they would be about in the middle of the nearly 20 mile crossing, and asked them how it was out there. They indicated that it wasn’t any better where they were.

THERE ARE NO PICTURES HERE.  IT SEEMS THAT WHENEVER THINGS GET MORE EXCITING, TAKING PICTURES IS NOT MUCH OF A PRIORITY!

About 12 miles across the sound we began to notice the waves moderating and felt we had endured the worst. This continued to be the case and we were very thankful for the improving conditions.

The Pasquotank River is another one of those “arms” of the Albemarle Sound. By the time we were a third of the way up the Pasquotank we were in moderate chop and feeling ready to celebrate our not so pleasant crossing of Albemarle Sound. We reached the town of Elizabeth City at about 1230 and opened the bridge to dock at Jeannette Brothers Free Dock.

After settling in and registering with Jeannette Brothers we walked downtown Elizabeth City. We found it to be one of those towns that may be healthy as a whole but which has a downtown/historic district that is fairly run down. There were signs that work was being done to bring it back to life but if so it is still a long ways from being healthy.

We did find a restaurant that had Shrimp and Grits on the menu so we decided to return to it later in the evening as this may be our last chance to find this mostly southern dish on the menu.

The rest of the evening was spend reading and researching our upcoming cruising grounds.

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