At River Dunes, North Carolina for a while

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 6 Nov 2010 19:12
35:05.01N, 76:36.09W
After 4 enjoyable days at Elizabeth City we joined an exodus of boats heading nine miles down the Pasquotank River which leads onto the Albemarle Sound. We were up at the crack of dawn just as the day before when we had planned to leave at the same time but a 'small craft advisory' was in force for the area and we didn't fancy taking a beating in an area notorious for giving them!
As it was even with 15-20 knots blowing on the beam when we entered the Sound it was more than enough as we were thrown around by the short seas. In the distance we could see a whole convoy of craft heading into the Albemarle from the alternative route through Virginia. They were having an easier ride with the wind from their stern. We all converged at the entrance to the Alligator River where boats go aground every day due to the rapidly changing shoals. If you rely on the chart plotter you are doomed and fodder for the tow-boat companies that charge a fortune to pull you off the flats. All you have to do is obey the red and green markers and you stay afloat. Nothing too difficult about that!
Beautiful sunrise on our departure from Elizabeth City                              Down the Pasquotank with a helpful breeze
Our evening was spent in an anchorage just off the Alligator River which coincided with night exercises from the USAF which were screaming overhead into the early hours.  They had been entertaining us all day with 'attacks' on a target a mile or so off the river, flying in at low level before sticking the afterburners on for a steep climb that produced a noise that endangered the eardrums. We thought they would go back to their mess smoke their pipes and play their piano (sorry, that's RAF stuff) when the sun disappeared but no, they were at it during the night as well. Coincidently the anchorage itself is surrounded by a backdrop of trees that look as if they have been napalmed. It did make us wonder if that area had already been 'attended to' by the USAF.
The next morning we motored through the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal.  This is 20 miles of tedium, being a narrow cut linking one river on the ICW with another. We were kept alert by the various deadheads floating around the canal waiting to mess up somebody's propellers. Our next night's stop was in a place we had previously anchored in on the way north last year and offered a much quieter night. The next morning we woke to thick fog which delayed our departure for a short while.
We are now in River Dunes, a harbour-side community still in the process of being constructed. When (or if) finished it will comprise of a massive waterside development covering the south-eastern shores of Broad Creek just a few miles from Oriental on the Neuse River.  About 50% of the marina complex is up and running which is overlooked by some large detached properties already constructed. The docks here are floating as they are at home which is a luxury and a change from the fixed wooden docks that are more traditional. In time there will be a post office, performing arts pavilion etc. More info at for anyone interested in seeing what the place is like. The chapel is quite delightful and presumably an early feature to ensure somebody up there is kept happy. For us so far the excellent shower facilities have proved to be a welcome addition to our daily routine although a degree in engineering is useful to get all the powerful water jets functioning without damaging any vital body parts!
Entrance looking outwards from River Dunes Marina                               Quite a few 'Transients' (as 'us types' are called) here
Neat little chapel on site                                                                                      It's November - only the brave swim now
What it should resemble in a few years time                                              A way to go yet!                         
Our stay here will depend on when our insurers feel comfortable releasing us from our November 30th constraint to dip below 35 degrees North. With hurricane names now at T for Tomas with still some weeks to go in the cyclone season we are not very hopeful of an early release. Last year at this time the hurricanes had only reached I for Ida. They did say it would be a heavy year although to be fair many of the names have been allocated to tropical storms that never even reached hurricane strength.
Another reason for staying is to purchase some spares. Once we have the green light then we will head to Beaufort where we sailed to last June from the Bahamas. There we hope to bite off some large chunks of the east coast on the outside route. Until then we will enjoy our stay at River Dunes, take care of some on-board jobs and relax.