From Alligator Marina it was just 5 miles to Albemarle Sound, which is about 20 miles across and extends to the outer banks, or barrier islands at the actual east coast. This large area is known for dangerous waters. Winds were 15 – 20 mph when we woke up Friday. This is not unusual. The Wright brothers chose Kitty Hawk because of its constant winds and it is right at the east end of Albemarle. The weather websites said 2 foot waves which should not be a problem for the boat, so we went ahead. We did have a few times like in the movies, with the bow crashing down and water coming up everywhere. It did not rain but our boat was constantly wet to the roof. We’ve never used the ship’s bell by the salon back door, but the boat rocked enough to ring it often. Overall it really was not that uncomfortable for anyone. This video shows what it was like.
Crab pot floats everywhere added to the fun as we dodged them. The line that attaches the float to the crab pot below can wrap up on the propeller and shaft, stop the engines and cause a considerable amount of damage. I do have line cutters on the shafts just ahead of the props for that, but since they are not 100% efficient I prefer not to test them.
Since the wind was from the north, the waves eased a bit as we crossed to the north side of Albemarle, although they still had room to form as we entered another 2 mile wide river, the Pasquotank, and went 15 miles up that to Elizabeth City NC. Just past the city we squeezed through a very narrow railroad swing bridge that is always open except for a once a day gravel train. The opening was right at the edge of the river and just past some docks on the same side. I had to stop the boat and rotate it into position to get it through. Within 100 feet of this was the little sign for Lambs Marina. The passage was so narrow that we would miss it if not for the sign, as well as our chart which also showed its location.
Lambs is a small marina at mile 45 having a single aisle with boats both sides. We went all the way down and turned 90 degrees to park at the fuel dock at the end. It was the only place big enough for us. This was about as “tucked in” as Star Gazer has been to date with just a few feet from a boat in front and the seawall behind.
Even with a late start we traveled only 40 miles and had time remaining. Since we were the only transients we could use the marina car all we wanted, so we went exploring in Elizabeth City. Another example of a cute but struggling downtown with magnificent old houses just past that along the main street.
Down by the waterfront we saw the docks where boats can tie up free and talked to some of the boaters there. Elizabeth City is the home of the “Rose Buddies”, now passed away, who started an ongoing tradition of welcoming boaters to the city. Maybe all this free dockage is why Lambs was by far the least expensive marina we have been in. Low price led to only one free slip the night we were there, the most full of any marina we have seen. We also drove out past the largest US Coast Guard base. We then went back to the boat where the ladies cooked up meatballs and spaghetti.