33. Coinjock South to Belhaven NC

The Coinjock Dock was nearly full last evening. A half mile + of boats lined up bow to bow and stern to stern and tightly packed along the face dock. I was bow to bow with a 54’ Hatteras which I was next to for 3 days in Hampton. Our bow pulpits were 2’ apart – a distance one could easily bride with one stride. I had the bow of a catamaran sail boat a couple feet off my stern. By the time I was ready to push off this morning there were only 2 other boats still at the dock.

It was again quite chilly today but mostly sunny. About a third to half of the distance was across the broad Albemarle Sound (Duck OBX to Nags Head OBX to the east) so I could run the boat at a higher speed. That definitely made the chilly air bite. Since the Sound is relatively shallow (mostly 12-15’) it is an expanse where you can expect to find crab pots most anywhere. Because of the better visibility, I ran from the exposed flybridge. Parka jacket temps/winds!

Once across the Sound, Alligator River Bridge loomed immediately ahead. Word had been widely broadcast that the bridge was fixed and again operating on a normal schedule. My plan was to spend the night at the marina immediately before the bridge. It’s a combination road side gas station and marina with decent fixed docks and good power. Not so good tasting water. The gas station also has a grill and a seating area with about 10 tables as well as outside picnic tables. It is also “home” to a number of crabbers.

Alligator River Bridge in the distance. Swing portion in the middle.
Running alongside the bridge to Alligator River Bridge Marina
Crabber next time getting ready to unload the crates of freshly caught blue crab. When this one unloaded to his truck. Another crabber was right behind unloading his boat. Once unloaded, the boat would back up between the other boats lined up and me and the next crabber would pull in and unload to their truck etc. The fairway between us was very narrow but these guys would back between us as a pretty good speed with about 5’ clearance. Guess they’ve done it before😃
Not a lot of room for a crabber to go between at speed and in reverse – but they do!
A little disconcerting tied up next to a highway and watching the headlights approach over the bridge.
…and watch the tail lights disappear into the sunset.
Morning discloses that this is not only a gas station and marina, but also an impromptu campground. Difficult to leave the slip with all the smells around of frying bacon

Keeping it in the ditch!

Second leg of this section. Immediately after leaving the marina and into the channel, it’s time to wait for the swing bridge to open and for me to get a closeup of the bridge that caused an 8 day delay.

The long north south fetch of the Alligator River from the bridge was an easy run. Waves were about 1 inch😄. Alligator River is joined to the Pungo River, to the west, by a nearly straight as an arrow 25 mile long canal (ditch).

A long pretty run but devoid of humans. Saw three single docks along the major part of the ride. Presume somewhere out of sight there was a reason for the docks. There were 2 high fixed span bridges, one midway and one on the west end but those were devoid of traffic as well. Overtook two sailboats along the way, got passed by one fast boat leaving a huge wake and met 2 or 3 boats coming my way. And then I met ….

About 8 miles later I pulled into Dowry Creek Marina at Belhaven, NC. The docks were wiped out by Hurricane Florence in Sept 2018. Since then they’ve replaced all the docks, plumbing and power. A very nice marina, economical, a well marked entry channel with good depth. They have a nice boaters lounge and a pool and their marina store is quite well stocked. They also have a loaner car if you need to run 3 miles to town. All in all a good stop.

And I pulled some homemade pea soup out of the freezer for dinner. Mmmm. Good times.

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