On Saturday 21 March the morning departure from Bucksport was delayed until the arrival of the dock manager. It was a good thing that we had to wait, as we were now able to stock up on some of their famous homemade sausage. Bucksport is exemplary of what we are seeing this year on the waterway. Traffic is really down and the marinas are just barely making it in an economy that sees most folks looking at ways to just avoid expenditures. There are always ample anchorages along the way and the water around here has lots. This means that in hard times the boaters usually adopt a mode of travel that involves more time on the hook. We are no exception, but it sure is nice to get off the generator and not have to clean up after a muddy anchor. But the practical effect of the economy finds a lot of the marinas cutting back on their service. From Bucksport we were soon at the Little River Inlet and faced some shallow spots in the ICW, ahead. As if by magic, a couple of casino boats emerged at the inlet and we decided to follow them out to the broad Atlantic where they can start the roulette wheel. This prooved a great opportunity as the inlet is one that should only be tackled "with local knowledge".
This choice allowed us to cross to the Cape Fear inlet and catch the incoming tide up the river. We decided to pass on thru Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach anchorage for the night. This choice gave us the option for a Sunday transit across Onslow Bay to the northern city of Beaufort...and avoid a lot of pesky bridges and shallow water. Beyond that, the area is subject to the vagaries of the Marine Corps training schedule and you can find yourself held hostage to national defense at an old swing bridge. We blew across the arc of water, entered the Beaufort/Morehead City entrance and pulled into another favorite stop at the Morehead Yacht Center just beyond the bridge. This led to a return to Floyds for dinner as the sun began to come down on the North Carolina waterway.
On Monday we made it to the entrance to the Pungo Canal and dropped the anchor. This would be the start of a lot of straight tracks and the wind was building so the cut would not be on autopilot. The next day brought us to Miss Wanda's marina just beyond the Alligator River Bridge and the entrance to the Albemarle. We pulled in with time to do laundry and learn that Wanda was still in charge. But, the place itself was in retirement with most of the harbor filled with dredging equipment.
The next morning after helping a couple of travelers off the piers and sharing a cup of coffee with a local fisherman, we headed out to cross the body of water that can always be difficult. We ran aground at the meeting of the river and the bay and the same friendly fisherman came up in time to pull us off....einforcing the adage to dig your well before you're thirsty. We crossed the Albemarle without further mishap and passed on into the Dismal Swamp. Our last stop in North Carolina was the visitor center, about half way thru the cut and we made it just before the center closed for the night on Wednesday 25 March.