We left Manteo early the next day and parted ways with SV Laurel shortly there after.  Good bye Richard and Larry.  And off we went on our way back to the Alligator river.  The day started calm but the wind was really starting to whip once the sun got high in the sky and it was time to get some sailing done.

Back at the start of the trip Tyler had to go up the mast to untangle a halyard, well it happened again and it was my turn.  I was only up the mast about 15-20 feet but I assure you on a tossing and turning vessel it was quit terrific.  The boat has a rolling and pitching motion that sends the mast head in a big circle over and over.  Up about half way I only got half of the full affect.  At the top it can swing far enough that you’d actually be out over the water instead of the deck at time.  However, it was amazing.  From that vantage point I was blown away by the beauty of Abermarle sound.

I came down slightly shakey, but we did get the sails up and underway in the nice stiff breeze. It was so breezy that we actually had to take some of the jib in.   You can see in the photo that its still slightly rolled up.  Look at the unseemly wrinkles in it.  Tyler and I later worked to straighten it out.

Dani had fun at the helm.  She looks so serious.  She takes the job seriously.  And she gets really REALLY pissed when you try to tickle her.  Just trust me, okay.

I like to stand up while steering.

It was a great day of sailing. We made it back into the Alligator river and headed for the canal that would bring us back to Belhaven. Taking Richard’s advice we decided to anchor near the entrance of the canal so we could make it back to Belhaven in the morning instead of in the dark. As we pulled in we noticed two Canadian flagged motorsailers and a little bitty catamaran. It was a very pretty anchorage surrounded by trees and marsh lands. All so pretty. Little did we know that it would soon become an “anchor story”.

Here we are coming into the anchorage. Thats Tyler at the helm and I’m taking bearings on markers to make sure we’re in the canal.

Really we thought the most dangerous part was this shallow way in. We made it though with no problem. Ready to drop anchor, check. Anchor away! Now usually once the anchor is down a boat will drift in the wind/current to a position, pulling the anchor line taunt, and setting the anchor. But Roannon did this weird circle in the water instead of drifting in a line. Oh shit!

Well sure enough the anchor line wrapped around the boat and the engine killed when we tried to put it in gear. Almost a sure sign of one of the most dreaded things that can happen to a boat… An anchor rope wrapped around the propeller. So Tyler put on his wet suit and took the plunge. It was around sunset, the air temp was in the lower sixties to upper fifties. The water was the same coffee colored water I’d described earlier. NO visibility underwater. Tyler was in the frickin’ ALLIGATOR RIVER. And it seemed pretty dire. It took him around six or seven dives to unwrap the prop. I assisted as best I could with a boat hook holding the lines out for him. I had visions of going in with him and us taking turns sawing through the line on the prop. Luckily it hadn’t wrapped tightly. Tyler was able to get it free. Whew!

He got out of that wet suit fast!

After that we set the anchor correctly and Tyler and I discussed what went wrong. We decided that the correct way to anchor may have been to pay the anchor line out slowly instead of letting it run down. That way if the boat circled the line could have been brought in and been up and down. Less chance for a wrap. LESSON LEARNED!

After all the excitement, we had time to actually chill out. The anchorage turned out to be really nice. And the sky just kept cooperating and giving us beautiful looks at the celestial bodies.

I wish I could show you the true night sky but the photos wouldn’t come out.

Dani made a great galley cook. Cook us dinner! Yar!

I sat out that night talking to Tyler on deck for a while and went to bed happy, full, and content.  Not just of belly, but of mind and soul.

The next day was a short one, but interesting. We got going early, pulling up anchor and getting back on the course to the canal.

Once in the canal we saw something up ahead in the water. Oh no! A stump? A floating log? Should we change course? !

No… It turned out to be a deer swimming across our bow. Poor fella almost got run over. He turned away when we got really close and then continued across to the other side once we’d pasted. Amazed at his persistence Dani and I speculated on his reasons and Tyler suggested the best of all. Probably some other gal deer on the other side.

A little further down we saw another amazing thing. A bald eagle. It wasn’t really doing much. But never the less I was inspired when I saw it. I try to reflect and self analyze about the site of this bird and why I’m moved when I see them. I start to dig into childhood and the propaganda we’re all fed about patriotism and America when we’re young. I think of the idea of nature being grand even in the absence of the attachment to worldly symbolism. And in the end I just stop myself. I don’t want to know why I think this bird is so wonderful. It just is. It gave me chills watching it.

After all the excitement, I passed out…

A few hours later we were back in the Dowry Creek Marina at Belhaven. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Tyler before showering and packing and then we hit the road.

On our way home we stopped in Charlotte, NC to visit my Uncle David and Aunt Wagtronics and their dogs. It was a really good visit to cap off a much needed, restful, fun, and educational vacation.