Since leaving Oriental on Saturday morning, we’ve continued traveling north and anchored two more nights in remote locations along the ICW in North Carolina. The nights have been cool, not too humid and good for sleeping. One of the benefits of spending the night at anchor is the almost always spectacular show at sunrise and sunset (although the sunrises have come a little early lately). We had the added bonus of a full moon last night.
The weather has been good, except when we were crossing the Albemarle Sound yesterday afternoon. Despite a forecast of 5-10 knots of wind, we had 20-25 with gusts as high as 30 knots and almost directly on the beam. At 55 miles wide from east to west and relatively shallow, the Albemarle is notorious for turning nasty in a hurry, building up big waves with a short period. For us, this means rolling, violent rolling. I have to admit, the problems were partly my fault. When things started to get rough early on, Mark asked if I wanted the flopper stoppers deployed and I declined, thinking we could tough it out. Not long after that, a clicking sound began in the engine room. A moment of panic ensued, as a loss of power in that slop would be seriously bad news. Mark went down into the engine room and determined that it was a fraying alternator belt, which we could do without, but it would need to be cut off. This involved Mark screaming at me from the engine room to cut the engine, momentarily leaving us adrift in heavy seas, while he cut the belt off, then yelled to quickly restart the engine. It was a little stressful. Then it got worse. The previously uncomfortable roll was now rapidly rearranging the interior of the boat. Although we were two-thirds of the way across, conditions had become unbearable (especially for poor Chloë), so Mark put out a flopper-stopper to dial the discomfort level back to merely miserable. It was a brutal reminder how quickly and unexpectedly things can go wrong.
We made it unscathed, nerves a bit frayed perhaps, but nothing a bottle of wine couldn’t remedy. We are now at a dock in Great Bridge, VA, taking care of laundry and groceries and alternator belts.