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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Willadine meets Pamilico River

11 March 2012

We spent a restless night and got up at five, except it was six because of the daylight savings time.  We didn’t care because we were so excited to get going.  We threw the last few items in the truck and in the boat and slipped out of the driveway.

Willadine rode just fine behind the truck, although I was very nervous about the route, which contained thirty-five steps according to Google.  Right away I decided we should make a change and then I forgot about the two Hwy 70s and we ended up in downtown Smithfield anyway.  Luckily, it was very quiet at seven on Sunday morning.

We missed one turn in some teeny little place past Selma, but we got back on track just by feeling our way and didn’t have to turn around.  We got gas on the bank of the Little River and went on without incident until we reached Ayden where a sheriff’s deputy followed us out to the county line.  We were totally legal, except that our right trailer light is unreliable.  Still, we had no desire to tangle with the constabulary, as Eric calls it.

In Washington (boy, was I glad to be done with those directions!) we ate a nice big lunch at the Bamboo Garden Chinese, easy in, easy out circular parking lot.  The green beans were good and Eric liked the sauce on the mushrooms.  I splurged and ate some sesame chicken and the teriyaki chicken on a skewer was flavorful, moist and not so sweet like some teriyaki.

The turn off the highway came up quick and we almost went past it and after we turned on Zinkie Lane we momentarily lost our bearings, but eventually recognized the horse at pasture just before we spotted the crazy hundred-foot yacht washed up on the bank behind Potter’s house.

Mr Potter was a surprise, being a man about our age, much younger than I pictured him, soft-spoken and completely missing a leg.  He was friendly and soft-spoken and explained that his name is Matthew Conway Potter and although he goes by Conway, he often uses the Matthew on the phone because people think he’s female.  His wife came out behind him and was younger and more high maintenance than I pictured her.  Of course they had just come from church, so she was dressed up.

We rigged the boat easily with high spirits.  I found it more comfortable being on the boat on the trailer after a few days of getting used to it.  Normally, it makes me very nervous because it’s so high and shaky.  Unfortunately, we broke our Windex on the drive (we knew we should have taken it down) but we readjusted it and left it up anyway, thinking it would be some use.

It was challenging getting her launched because the boat tried to pull the truck down with her.  She was anxious.  Finally got her in the water and Eric hosed off the trailer and parked it.  Getting away from the ramp we ran aground and had to ease around and raise the rudder.   I was out of practice of steering in reverse and we flopped around a bit.  Luckily there was almost no wind.  On the way out, we noticed the boat our neighbor had been working on all day was a Hunter 42, a real beauty.  He said it’s his last boat and it’s for sale.  Interesting.  Would have liked to see the inside, but we were too anxious to get underway.

The sun was shining, it was cold, about sixty degrees, but in the wind we had to bundle up.  Dodging the crab pots, we made our way out the creek to the big river.  Eric was so nervous, but I was just thrilled.  After we got out in the river, I was ready to sail.  The wind was about five knots from the southeast, perfect for a pass across the river.  Eric wanted to motor to the middle and sit there for a bit, getting used to the big water, but I was keen to sail. 

Once we got the main sail up and  we turned the motor off, it was a big sigh of relief.  The conditions were perfect.  A pair of pelicans swooped over the stern, eyeing us for possible fish debris and veered off.  The Pamlico River Welcome Wagon.  Out to the west, all we could see was a big opening at the mouth of the river.  No sign of Okracoke or the Outer Banks, just a whole lotta water.  Nice!

We nearly made it to Indian Island and then decided to head back.  We were both a little nervous about getting anchored before dark on our first day out.  The “Frying Pan” was occupied by two fishing boats, but looked like a nice secure anchorage.  Instead we went farther in and anchored in a deserted little cove on the east fork of North Creek.  It was so easy with not a breath of wind and we ate a nice supper of canned chicken and veggies with hot chocolate for dessert with a square of Hershey’s Special Dark for dipping.

We marveled at Jupiter and Venus (?) so bright and close together and the stars came out fantastically.  We laid head to head in the cockpit wrapped in sleeping bags and Eric showed me the nebula in Orion’s sword and the Andromeda Galaxy and we saw two shooting stars.  The perfect end to the perfect day.

Something Mr. Potter said sticks in my head.  He said he had recently acquired a sailboat, his first, as he was used to working boats, power boats.  This made me wonder about how might have lost that leg, possibly in a boating accident.  Maybe someday I’ll ask him.  He said he liked the sailboat, but found it a bit frustrating compared to powerboats.  “You know,” he said, “with a sailboat, it’s not about getting from point A to point B.  In a sailboat, it’s more about the getting there than the destination.”  Indeed.

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