Wind Blown Cruising
The wind is the reason the Outer Banks are famous for kites and wind surfing. The wind was the reason we did not see as much of the Outer Banks as we had hoped. Instead, we spent a couple days on the Dismal Swamp Canal – including an overnight rafted with 12 other boats on the Visitor Center Dock. From there we had a busy night at Elizabeth City where the crowd triggered their Wine and Cheese Party tradition along with gifts of roses for the ladies. We have stopped here several times, but never with a crowd (again we rafted boats to our side tie on the wall) so the welcome party was a new treat. This tradition dates to the original Rose Buddy who for many years single handedly welcomed boaters to this super cruiser friendly city. The roses on the dock have been planted and tended in his memory as is the wine and cheese tradition. Every stop for us here has included Gus – who now carries on the Rose Buddy tradition with the support of the city.
In spite of the winds we crossed the wide open Albemarle Sound and nestled in the marsh up the Alligator River. Our next stop was Bellhaven another city that welcomes boaters. Our favorite ACE hardware store is here (They carry everything that Mud Pie makes!) and the Gingerbread Bakery which offers ginger treats and a great breakfast. Our stop this time allowed for a walk through the shore front old homes which line the harbor. Sadly this town has seen some hard times and is working to recover, but they still have a charming museum – with vintage dust. The button collection lured me in but it was not the only interesting oddity being preserved in this repository of Bellhaven history all available to view for a small donation.
After slowly working our way south down the Pungo River to the Bay River we positioned ourselves for a run over the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island – which lies at the southern end of the Hatteras National Seashore. Since the winds kindly died down, we made the jump and slid into Silver Lake – the protected harbor on Ocracoke. Most of the island is under the National Park system which accounts for the great deal at the park docks for holders of the Senior Gold Pass. All would have been wonderful if their electric posts had worked for us, yet we managed a couple nights without power and enjoyed the convenience of being tied to a dock. The adjacent state ferries provided entertainment as well as an early morning wake-up call – they started loading at 6:30 AM. We had no complaints, however, since these behemoths also keep the entrance and approach channels well dredged with their deep draft and powerful engines. Our stay included bike rides around the village, nearby beaches, and the 1823 lighthouse with stops at several local eateries and shops. As a special treat, our friends and fellow Krogen owners, Mark and Mary, on Good Life came in for a night as well. While we continually meet new cruising friends, it is always extra nice to reconnect with folks with whom we have kept in touch over the last couple of years. So, perhaps it was no surprise that as we left Ocracoke, we crossed paths with another fellow Krogen and then followed another two into Broad Creek….. All those rendezvous hours have only increased our pool of fellow cruisers friends!