Pungo River Anchorage
Date: Monday 16th June 2014
Position: 35:33.152N 76:28.036W
Charming though Oriental was, I decided to press on up the ICW. I raised the anchor early on the morning of Monday 16th and motored back into the Neuse River. As I continued northwards it became even wider, so that is was rather like being back at sea. However there was little if any wind so the water was flat.
The Neuse river was joined by Bay River which led on to Gale Creek, another canalised section, Goose Creek, Pamlico River and Pungo River. This was another wide body of water that I followed up to the town of Belhaven. I decided not to stop there, so pressed on to an anchorage just south of the canal that joins the Alligator River to the Pungo River. The anchorage was not one that I would normally choose with there being only 3 or 4 inches of water under the keel but there was no other alternative. It was getting late in the day and ahead of me lay around 25 miles of canal, with absolutely nowhere to stop. Even more importantly, just past the entrance to the canal lay the Wilkerson Bridge which only had a stated height of 64 feet.
I was a little tired. I had been travelling nonstop since early morning. For all of that time I had been motoring and hand steering. It was hot with no wind and temperatures up to 100 deg F. I was not able to leave the helm as the channel was so narrow. Outside the channel the depths dropped almost immediately to less than my draft so any inattentiveness could quickly result in a grounding. Furthermore because of my concern about bridge heights I had had to drop the bimini cover so that I could see the top of the mast as I went under the bridges, so I was out in the full sun all day. Looking on the bright side, I had not yet grounded or hit a bridge, and the desiccating conditions had removed the need to respond to calls of nature.
Once anchored the wind picked up from the south, gusting up to 20 knots. This was not good news as southerly winds are known to raise water levels. So I was seriously concerned about my ability to pass under the forthcoming bridge without hitting it. I had some work to do.
I carry 6 cans of fresh water on deck which together weigh around 150 kilos(330 lbs). I attached these to the end of the boom using a pulley system that normally is used to lift my outboard engine. I then used a plumb line to define a vertical line in the galley area near the centre line of the boat. I carefully marked this with some plastic tape. I then raised the water cans and swung the boom over the side of the boat so that it induced a sideways lean. Again using a plumb line and plastic tape I marked the new vertical line, and measured the angle between the two lines. It was about 5 degrees. I then calculated by how much such a lean would reduce the height of a 64 foot mast, and was a bit disappointed to see that it would barely be 3 inches. But this may be all that is needed?
It was starting to get dark as I recentered the boom and dropped the water cans back on deck. I will have to see how things develop in the morning.