Through the Pungo River-Aligator River Canal - in position 35:40.50N, 76:03.76W

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Tue 9 Jun 2009 23:29
We enjoyed our night in the Marina at Belhaven. It's an old shrimping port of 2000 inhabitants that seems to have lost it's shrimping industry. There are two small marinas that can accept just a handful of visitors despite there not being many local boats. The marina we stayed at was not very big on berth numbers but very big on hospitality. Run by a very nice couple, they made us very welcome, ran us to the local hypermarket for a quick 15 minute supermarket sweep and allowed us to use their mobile phone to contact the immigration office (which we have to do whenever we pitch up somewhere different). The heads were nicely appointed, towels provided and the walls in the men's was completely covered in WW2 US Navy memorabilia which made fascinating reading- provided there was nobody else waiting outside for a shower. The wifi was good, provided you sat in the rocking chair or thereabouts next to the office and it was a good stop to get some washing done. We made some new friends cruising in a Gemini 1050 cat. A very nice couple who are also headed north to Annapolis.
Leaving Belhaven we motored along the Pungo River and then into the narrow canal that links the Pungo River to the Alligator River. This is a 21 mile land cut created to take the intracoastal from one river to another. It's as straight as you can get a 21 mile cut with a road bridge at either end. You can just about see from one bridge to the other. What we also saw were snakes (aaaghh). Nikki had thought the first one was a small Alligator exercising it's right to be in an area that includes it's name. But we didn't think alligators were this far north - they seem to be in South Carolina downwards to Florida. The second disturbance on the water ahead of us we could see more closely. It was a 6 ft long snake swimming across the river from one bank to the other.It was horrible (said Nikki). Phil decided to curtail any immediate thoughts of a late afternoon swim in the warm river waters.  We then went into imagination overdrive visualising the wretched things slithering up the back steps into the cockpit in the night. (aaaghh again).As we don't carry any snake recognition books with us we can only (hopefully) assume it was a water snake. It had vertical dark brown stripes so any snake experts reading this blog might like to fill us in on its make and model info.
At the end of the days motoring we anchored just off the channel in Alligator River along with 5 other boats (thus keeping the 'snakes slithering onboard' odds at a reasonable level) and were subsequently attacked by the largest flies we had ever seen - size of the largest bumble bees and with real attitude. We had to put our entire cockpit canopy up to keep them out whilst we eat our evening meal, then waited til dark to brave the back steps in the open air for a very welcome showerbefore turning in for the night.