Belhaven, NC

11/13, 999.4, 70/45, W>N10, sunny - 4:37am - Still at anchor and holding, but wishing dawn to come quickly. For a while, around 2:15am, the wind and waves laid down a little and then rain abated. But around 4am the wind and rain returned in force and I was beginning to get that “zero G” feeling in the V-berth, as the bow rode over waves. I got up. Dobbs was up a few minutes before me, and now we’re dressed and just waiting it out, the hour and 19 minutes until first light. We are eager to be in the canal.

Wind SE now and barometer still falling. I have never watched a barometer so hopefully, waiting for it to steady. No cell signal to take a peek at the weather radar. Lightning flashing in the distant east and south.

Counting the seconds between flash and thunder, Dobbs reckoned that the storms got no closer than 10 miles and averaged about 25 miles away. As soon as we could reasonably see, about 5:30am, we upped anchor (no snags!) and motored into the canal.

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7:52pm, now anchored in Pantego Creek off Belhaven - With first light the wind faded away, the skies cleared, and all was quiet - almost like a vacuum. The USCG made a radio announcement warning of strong storms and waterspouts until 8:15am. We laughed, as we’d already weathered the worst and were starting to dry out and relax. Later I learned that a tornado had touched down in Morehead City. There were times that morning that I thought the wind would tear the sailcover off or blow out the jib, and I was grateful that we always take the time to put away the sails and lines securely at the end of the day.

Motoring down the Alligator-Pungo Canal was uneventful. About a mile in, on the left bank, we spotted a small canal with a rural road at the end - a good opportunity for giving Murphy shore leave. Dobbs “hovered” in Grace while I rowed in.

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Later, on Dobbs’ watch, I napped in the V-berth, basking in sunshine and reveling in a pleasant breeze streaming in the forward hatch and open ports. Just before noon, we set sail on the Pungo River beating toward Belhaven. Initially we had the mainsail at first reef and full genoa, but within 15 minutes I was shaking out the reef. The wind speed continued to drop off until sailing was impractical and we started the motor. We stopped at River Forest Marina in hope of buying 20lbs. of ice, but their ice machine was damaged in hurricane Florence. We bought all the diesel we could take (a mere 3 gallons) and topped up the water tank. The dock hand pointed us to the hardware store for ice.

There’s a small canal near the middle of town with a public dock. You can tie up for 4 hours for free or $1/foot/night. Electric is $5 additional. Dobbs brought Grace gracefully alongside. I walked the easy block up to the hardware store and collected ice. Cubes were the only offering. In cold weather, I much prefer block. Two 10lb. blocks last about 5 days and I don’t have to root through a mound of cubes to find what I want. In hot weather, cubes are necessary because they pack a greater cooling punch, alone or blended with block, to keep our food cold enough.

With Murphy leading the way, Dobbs and I walked out to the Food Lion for groceries, 3 miles round-trip. We each have a backpack and shoulder bag for carrying things back to the boat. Heavy items go in the backpacks and lighter stuff goes in the bags. We returned to Grace around 4pm and cast off to go anchor. It would have been nice to stay at the dock, but the cost exceeds our $29.60/day budget, especially having just bought groceries. There’s a free dock to the NW that we’ve stayed at before, but it sits exposed out in the river. If things get choppy, we’d rather be at anchor then bumping around at that unprotected dock.

Dobbs picked us a nice spot outside the channel near green “9” and I lowered the delta. We didn’t get a good set. Rather than mess around with trying to get it to set in soft bottom, I changed out to the Danforth which bit in solidly. I stowed groceries and we transitioned to evening at anchor. For dinner, I heated up Spanish Bean Soup I’d canned over the summer and made grilled ham and cheese to go with it.

Additional notes RE: composting head challenges: Sailing in heavy weather three out of five days on the Chesapeake, we shipped water in the vent for the head. Also, when the ambient air temperature inside the boat is roughly 55-degrees or below, our 98.6-degree “deposits” create condensation in the solids bin. On top of those two things, the air in the boat at 55-degrees is very humid, so while the vent fan runs to ventilate the pile, not much drying happens. We’ve been battling an over-moist pile since the end of day one. If it’s too wet and the gaskets aren’t set tight, liquid (read as “poo juice”) leaks out at the crankshaft. We want to dump and re-charge the bin, but we haven’t found a suitable spot (dumpster, compost bin, or park composting toilet). Today was the first day where I could see it was drier, but I’d still like to start over.