Belhaven to Alligator River Swing Bridge
07 June 2012
We left the slip at Belhaven Waterway Marina as Brenda pushed out our bow with her boat hook (longest boot hook I've ever seen!). The wind caught our bow as Brenda held our stern line in towards the dock. Such a graceful exit in a narrow channel from a lovely place to visit.
Off we went to the Pungo River to head north. I called Atlantic Basin Marina & Boatyard in Great Bridge VA to insure that they would be able to deal with our defective alternator. So with hope for a cure we motored out to the Pungo River listening to Ch 16 on the VHF. Catbird Seat was trying to reach some marina on the VHF with limited success. You imagine these unfolding stories on Ch 16. The prior day the Coasties were broadcasting for several hours to "keep a sharp lookout for a person in the water off Atlantic Beach". It evolved into a "kayak fishermen in the water ". Alas, we were many many miles away from that drama. As the Pungo River narrowed and actually ended we entered the PungoAlligator River Canal. A sparse area with real wilderness. A red tailed fox followed us on the bank for about 0.1 mile watching us. Shortly thereafter Judy spotted a deer standing in the water. Finally, a bear sitting on the bank tracking us with his head. We imagined him a boat counter for the Corps of Engineers! The pleasantness was balanced by a danger sign on a post followed but many stumps 5-10 yds out from the bank.
We transistioned to the wetlands of the Alligator River and then finally the actual river. Wow! Calm waters in the shelter of the canal changed to 1-2' chap with a 15-20kt head wind We bounced our way for 2+ hours more to the Alligator River Swing Bridge. I hailed the bridge tender on Ch13 inquiring about opening and he responded that he had a visual on me. He stated he would stop traffic and open the bridge when we were within 0.5 miles of the bridge. It was delightful to find several people out of there cars and we were the afternoon attraction as we approached. Once thru we did a 90 degree turn to port to see Ms. Wanda at the Alligator Bridge Marina. Ms. Wanda had earlier reminded me on the radio when I asked if they were on the North side of the bridge that she had already explained this to my wife! Obviously, Ms. Wanda says it clearly and concisely once & you should be listening. So, we had the joy of turning west into the sun to find a small marina by the bridge. Good glasses with polarizing lenses are a necessity! We pulled in, tied up and "I went to see Ms. Wanda". The marina is cleverly both a truck stop, restaurant, boat launch & marina. Not much difference between some boaters & truck drivers. Sadly, there selection of 12V appliances was thin! Ms. Wanda guided her new employee with a firm finger on the registration form and "not there honey....here". I wondered if I might help with the inservice but knew better when I was addressed with "not yet honey". After receiving my WiFi, TV room, shower instructions from Ms. Wanda I quietly retired to the boat for the evening. Wondering if Ms. Wanda would be providing any additional input.
In all fairness to Ms. Wanda, she is an efficient multi tasker capable of dealing with both truck drivers and boat owners simultaneously!! I think its the implicit threat of "Now listen up honey!!" that keeps us in line.