Leading the Fleet
28 October 2011
We left Dowry Creek at 7:15 AM, just as the sun was starting to come up. The sun broke through a cluster of clouds and provided us with great lighting on markers as we were traveling from east to west on the Pungo River. We were the first boat to enter the channel, and became the "mother duck with all the duckling boats" following us south. At the end of the Pungo River we then turned south on the Pamlico River, through Goose Creek, an ICW canal, and Gale Creek. We continued to lead the way. All went well, as all the markers were easy to see. It was fun looking back at the long line of sailboats trailing behind us as all of the "snowbirds" flew south. This was the second time on the trip that we really felt the flow of all of the boaters moving south. However, we read many warnings about shoaling in Gale Creek so we decided to slowly and carefully traverse this area. Along this area we saw shrimp boats and immediately thought of "Bubba Gump". The "mother duck" having slowed down just after the Hobucken bridge resulted in many of the following boats passing us into the Neuse River. In the canal and Gale Creek we were unable to sail, but once out into the Neuse River all of the boats raised their sails once again. We were able to sail until we were out in the middle of the river when we turned toward Oriental, North Carolina. It became very lumpy and with the wind in the wrong direction, behind us, all of the boats were rolling on their round bottoms. We were all watching each other's "sticks" (masts) roll from one side of the boat to the other and sailors later commented on the ride.
We entered the channel to Oriental and turned past anchored boats on our starboard and shrimping boats on our port. Once again we were greeted by a dockhand who helped us with lines as we landed in our slip. Oriental Marina has a lovely restaurant, hotel, pool, laundry facilities and offers towels- shampoo - soap. We joined some of our new sailing friends Marge and Dick as well as another couple from Ohio - Bert and Pru for dinner at Toucan after having a sunset drink from the Tikki Bar. Marge and Dick are sailing their boat to Fort Pierce, Florida where they will leave their boat. They plan on living aboard their boat in the winter and going home to Ohio during the good weather. Bert and Pru have sold their home and plan on living on their boat, Exuberant, full time. Every sailors own intention for their experience is a little different than others and they often try to convince others to follow their path. There is comfort in company when you find others who are making the same crazy decisions that you have or are making. While in Oriental we met the owner of the local health club, who offered use of his facilities for free, and who drove us to the local West Marine. We met a lot of wonderful people including a retired diesel mechanic whose son had died in a motorcycle accident just a month ago. He nonetheless gave us some sound advice about maintaining our diesel. Wiley set up a wooden support for our gerry cans of fuel and water on the boat. We scrubbed the boat and prepared to leave for Morehead City. There are always a lot of little tasks that we need to do to maintain the boat and they often consume a surprising amount of our time.