The Weather Always Rules on the Water

The green dot marks our spot by the Alligator River Bridge.

I’m typing this post from the Alligator River Marina, a small establishment on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in North Carolina where we were not planning to spend three or four nights, yet here we are, pinned in place by a powerful winter storm lumbering up the coast.

We’d hoisted anchor before dawn on Thursday to get through the Gilmerton Bridge before its morning commute closure, and flown across the Albermarle Sound in the afternoon. We anchored at Shoreside Landing instead of going through the Alligator River swing bridge and traveling another 15 nautical miles to get to the protection of Tuckahoe Point, which would have meant sailing and anchoring in the dark. We don’t mind sailing on the ocean at night, but try to avoid doing so on inland waters—especially when we’re tired.

Knowing that the Alligator River bridge stops opening when the wind gusts above 34 knots, we called its bridge tender before we hoisted our anchor on Friday morning. The word? It was “blowing 25” and that he would open on request, if it remained so. Unfortunately for us, the wind picked up in the hour it took us to get from our protected anchorage to the bridge.

We missed the last Alligator River Bridge opening Friday morning by about 30 minutes.
Tied up at the dock at the Alligator River Marina on Friday morning.

The bridge tender hoped to open the bridge in a few hours, and suggested we pull in closer to shore to wait.

We decided to fuel up at the Alligator River Marina in the meantime, and once we were on the face dock broadside to the stiffening wind, it seemed best to ride the storm out here instead of bashing out to our most recent anchorage.

On the bright side, A friendly couple aboard a beautiful 60-foot motor yacht invited everyone in the marina to a “stranded cruiser” party on their boat that evening. That was a lot of fun! We met cruisers on several boats heading to The Bahamas, who we hope to see again.

Kathy Supplee provided this photo of our host and fellow cruisers aboard Bouyant Force.

Fall days are short, and before this forced pause we’d been on the move from sunrise to sunset.

Hoisting anchor Wednesday at Dymer Creek.

We made excellent time traveling down the Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday, and on the ICW through the Albermarle Sound on Thursday. Captain Allan pulled long hours at the helm, as I clocked 9-hour tele-workdays down below thanks to Ubifi’s sturdy connectivity. We’re moving at a brisk delivery pace, looking forward to January when we’ll switch into cruising mode after I retire.

The Gilmerton Bridge lit up in the dark
Waiting for the Gilmerton Bridge to open early Thursday morning.
Entering the Great Bridge Lock Thursday.

Throughout, it’s been windy, cold and rainy, but our enclosure keeps things comfortable in the cockpit. We’re so glad we made that upgrade before our trek south last year.

We’re hoping to make it home to St. Augustine around mid-November, ideally with an offshore hop from Beaufort, NC, or Charleston, SC. More about our progress—or lack thereof—next post!

4 thoughts on “The Weather Always Rules on the Water”

  1. Every time I look at “purple wind” in Predict Wind I think of you and Tanja. Glad you are safe and sound, and I am thrilled to be reading your blog once again. Excited to see you here.

  2. We have not so fond memories of Alligator River – that’s where we ran aground in July 2012 and had to get a tow. Ended up overnighting at the Alligator River marina. Sounds as if you too have tangled with the Sound and the mouth of that River.

    1. The stumps along the canal can be rather disconcerting. Each time we go through, I keep watching for alligators along the banks…so far no luck!

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