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Fair Winds Both Directions

Swan Quarter Marina

With a forecast of two days of southerly winds followed by two days of northerlies, the sound beckoned. I got off dock Monday morning at 10:20, set the main and genoa in the creek and proceeded downriver. A few minutes wing and wing got me far enough out in the river to get on the starboard tack and set up for a long board out into the sound. I passed Garbacon Shoal Marker at 12:50 and Gum Thicket at 13:45. It was easy sailing all the way to Piney Point where the long fetch coming across from Cedar Island started setting up a chop. With the wind and waves on the stern quarter I rounded Maw Point Shoal Marker at 15:20 just as the southbound Aurora tow turned out of Bay River at Neuse River Junction. A tiny but seaworthy sloop (a Flicka or Compac, probably) was breasting the waves headed south, crashing around under power. She had already made way for the southbound tow in the lower Bay River and now made up just enough time crossing Maw Point Shoal to have to give way again as they both arrived at Maw Point at the same time. I turned up the Bay River and had a good run on the port tack into Gale Creek. Entering the cut at 16:15 I put on the motor but left sail set and ran through under light airs wing and wing - but north of Hobucken the winds were so fluky that I jibed several times. No damage done, the winds were light enough that I was able to catch the boom and ease it across most times. I came out into Upper Spring Creek and set my sights on Campbell Creek. Vic Copelan had recommended it as a beautiful and sheltered anchorage with good holding, while warning me off Eastham Creek, just across the way, as poor holding. Sure enough, a BoatUS recovery boat was in the process of towing a big sloop off the point just west of Eastham Creek. I turned in Campbell Creek and found to my pleasure that the channel was privately marked with miniature green and red plackards. I went back just far enough to get some tree shelter on the southbank and set anchor at 17:45. I put something in the pressure cooker and enjoyed a drink as I waited for dinner.

Tuesday dawned cloudy. The forecast was for SE 10-15 in the morning, then 15-25 later with rain developing and a small craft advisory for the sound after noon. I decided to make a short day and get somewhere sheltered by mid-day. I got off anchor at the Dan Boneyish hour of 7:15 and sailed out into the Pamlico River, turning downstream under jib and main. I was aiming for the mouth of Rose Bay but underestimated the set and ended up off Abel Bay and had to beat back to the southeast to clear Willow Point Shoal Marker. Then it was an easy run into Rose Bay with another beat into Deep Bay. I almost found ground near Deep Bay Marker 1 - best to pass well to the south - and started the motor and dropped the jib at the mouth of the canal to Swan Quarter Bay. I had considered anchoring here,thinking there would be some protection at least from the waves, but it was quite windy and choppy. I decided to run the canal and find refuge in Swan Quarter Bay. I ran through under main and motor and followed Claiborne'sinstructions for entering the channel. From there it was an easy shot up thebay and into the commercial fishing canal at Swan Quarter. I tied up on the Clark Marina back dock at noon. There were a few slips with hookups on the front near the shore, but I wasn't sure about the depths, and I didn't need power anyway.

After a while I went hunting for a dockmaster and found the Clark Marina store. Several men were sitting around drinking Bud Lights, there was a girl at the counter, and one older man standing aside wearing a Clark Marina hat. Iaddressed myself to him. "Mr. Clark, I'm tied up on your dock and wondered if Icould pay you to stay overnight." He replied, "On the sailboat?" and I nodded. "No you can't," he said. He looked me in the eye. "But you can stay there overnight or as long as you want." I responded "I'd be glad to pay," and he said "I already have enough." I said, "yes sir," and then we chatted a few minutes. I bought a six-pack of Budweiser but they didn't have any ice, so I walked up the street to the road. The store there didn't have ice either, but directed me to go to the fish house and ask for some. The man there filled up a sack for me and wouldn't accept payment. I walked back to my boat, resupplied,amazed at the generosity of the people of Swan Quarter.

The wind blew hard out of the south and gusty rain came through in the afternoonas I sat below deck drinking Budweiser and reading Donald Kagan's revisionist history of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. I cooked pasta, green pepper and bratwurst for supper and hit the rack.

In the morning, the small craft advisory for the sound had been extended until the end of the day. The wind had shifted to the north and the showers were supposed to tail off by mid-day. I decided with a following wind I would be safe to cross the sound to Brant Island Shoals and make for Lower Broad Creek. I tied a reef into the main, hanked on the 100% jib and dropped lines at 8:15. There were many markers visible but I managed to find Marker "ISQ" on the northside of Middle Ground and cross the shoal. In hindsight, I think I ended up at Marker "UM" rather than "M" and later mistook "M" for "LM", because I ended up a bit west of Brant Island Marker and had to run across the wind to round it. This made for some extremely rough, wet sailing as the big swells rolled down from Manteo. I continued on, rounding Brant Shoals Marker at 12:45, and then with the wind back on the stern quarter it was easy sailing in the mouth of the river and on to Lower Broad.

I beat in the mouth of the creek and then turned up toward Whortonsville,reaching Ensign Marina at 16:15. There I met Dorothy, Brad and Joey, owners of the Hinckley 38 "Belisarius" that ties up there. After a shower, I joined them aboard for drinks and got the full tour of this beautiful boat, built in 1960. The fore and side decks were wide, the cockpit roomy, and below decks all classic dark mahogany. Joey and I also chatted with the new owner, Chris, of an Allied Princess that had sat at the marina unused for years. He was looking forward to doing a full restoration at Deaton's over the winter.

I made a late morning of it, seting sail for Matthews Point at 10:00, and had an easy day and fair winds. I got on dock at 16:15 and had time to run into town for provisions and get in a little fishing before dinner. All the north winds had driven lots of salt water into the creek and it was crawling with shrimp and menhaden. An hour's casting with a popping cork and live shrimp produced three puppy drum, all just under the legal limit of 18 inches, all dutifully returned to the water.