Are we ever glad to be tied up tonight to a tiny pier in Elizabeth City at the entrance to the Great Dismal Swamp. We should celebrate this milestone, but we’re too tired after 10 hours under way.
Only two day cruises during Many Moons’ eight-month journey were longer than this one, and not by much. We made 156 miles in the last two days and a lot of them were rough. Why push it like this? To make it through the famed/feared/shallow Albemarle Sound during manageable winds. We hear that some boats wait as long as a week for favorable winds. I wouldn’t say our winds were favorable, exactly — but they were manageable. I never doubted the boat’s integrity, or our ability to stick it out. Nobody got sick (dramamine helped, again) though we did get weary.
It turns out that the Alligator River (leading into the sound) and Pamlico River and Sound (which we navigated yesterday) were rougher for us than the Albemarle because of stronger winds. Now that’s all behind us, and we can take some time in this quirky city before heading up into the swamp and our last 50 miles to Norfolk.
Last night was a cold one, just below 30 degrees, but our diesel heater kept us warm. Even Boo the Cat squished next to me in the narrow V-berth rather than in her cat bed in the salon. We were under way by 0700 to give us the best chance for the long cruise we aimed for but didn’t necessarily expect. It started out great, in the calm of a straight canal, where a parade of boats passed each other with exquisite politeness. That calm didn’t last long. Neither did the politeness. Within four hours, we were back in the whitecaps, using windshield wipers, with waves over the bow…and one extraordinarily rude driver who got his comeuppance. The story in photos and captions, below.
One other thing: I drove us through the one bridge that had to open for us today, and while that’s a small thing, it’s another milestone for me. Almost all my driving is in the open water, with clear navigation channels, so doing something that requires calculation — even a little bit — increases my driving confidence. Like driving through the lock last year, and out of the restaurant pier last week. Jeff is the master boat-handler. I’m still a neophyte, at least on this boat. (I’ve driven a waterski boat quite a bit, and many sailboats.) I don’t drive as much as I should. This is a common theme on Looper boats where the guy is typically in charge of boat operations, but both women and men on The Loop seem to agree that the woman should drive more. Why? Redundancy is good. Plus, doing anything that isn’t natural increases one’s resilience for the next challenge, whatever it may be. (Now what can I suggest Jeff do that isn’t natural to him? 😉)