Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elizabeth City, NC

Elizabeth City is Delightful.

As you arrive,  you discover there are FREE docks.  And a volunteer dock attendant.  This time it was Sam, a WWII veteran, a lovable old curmudgeon, who insisted on helping whether you wanted him to or not.  And he groused when you wouldn't let him.  We let him.  He starts with a yell as you're coming in, and the litany goes like this:  "I NEED TWO DOCKLINES - TWO DOCKLINES.  They don't have any docklines tied.  I wonder how they thought they were going to tie up.  HEY - I NEED TWO DOCKLINES - TIE ON TWO DOCKLINES AND TOSS THEM TO ME.  I've been doing this for seven years - never scratched a boat yet.  HEY - GET YOUR DOCKLINES READY.  What's the matter with these people?  THERE, NOW YOU'VE GOT IT -  NOW TOSS THEM TO ME.  OVER HERE - OVER HERE!'

Right in front of the free docks is the Welcome Sign.  And they really mean it.  People from the town stop by to say hello,  tell you about the town and answer all your questions,  all in that slow, captivating southern drawl.  You'll find out where the laundromat is, the hardware store, the grocery store.  And you'll find out the phone number to call for the grocery store to send a car to pick you up so you can buy groceries - and then bring you back right to your boat.  Need propane? Ask Sam.  He says, "See that white pickup truck over there?  You just load it in the back whenever you're ready and I'll take you there.  And don't you worry none - nobody gets overcharged in my town."

Here's Kanau tied up - courtesy of Sam - at the Elizabeth City town docks.  On our starboard, though you can't see it well, is Skip and Harriet's boat, Moondance.  We met them, as we mentioned, in the Welcome Center and are becoming good friends.  We hung around Elizabeth City with them.  You can learn more about them on their blog: Moondance38

Here's Skip and Harriet on our boat - posing for a photo - (you could probably tell.)

Since last time we were here (2005) they put up this beautiful building that you can see right from our dock.  An inquiry revealed (in a lovely southern drawl) "That's the museum." And sure enough, it was!

Here's the sign in front of the museum.  You can read it if you want - I'll wait...
Finished?  We liked the town and the museum - but we don't like the Albemarle Sound.  It's mean and bouncy.  And our friends Skip and Harriet, (remember Skip and Harriet? You met them a few frames back, I wish you'd pay closer attention) ran aground coming out of the Albemarle and into the Alligator River.  Because it's mean.  The Albemarle that is, not the River.  The River is okay.  It doesn't even have alligators, in spite of its name.

Getting back to the bit about the museum, sorry I got sidetracked, this was inside the front door - life sized in reality - a lot smaller in a photo - as you can tell.

Here's more stuff in the museum, in case you don't like to go to museums but like to see photos of stuff in museums.  If not, skip the previous photograph (that was a trick, it's too late to skip the previous photograph), this photograph and the next photo.  I'll try to remember to warn you sooner next time.

They have really neat things in museums.  Lot's of old stuff mostly.  I don't know what this is.  It might be a printing press, or an early Oldsmobile.  You should go to museums yourself rather than trying to get a rundown on them from an old codger with no real memory to speak of.  What I hate about museums is seeing stuff I used to use - and now it's an antique.


You may think this is a sunset photo.  Because, if you know me, you know I don't get up that early.  If you don't know me, well, I don't get up that early.   But you would be wrong.  That's east, and, at least in my experience, where most sunrises occur.  And this is the time that our friends Skip and Harriet chose to leave.

Here they are getting ready to leave - that's Suzi helping them untie their docklines.  I don't help much - I take the pictures.

And here they are sailing off into the sunrise.  See you down the waterway Skip and Harriet.

If there are more than four boats at the free dock and if it's not a weekend, or a holiday, the "Rose Buddies" of Elizabeth City hold a little party for the cruisers.  This is Dave, head Rose Buddy.  (They get the name Rose Buddies because to every lady cruiser they give a rose.  I think that's a nice gesture.) They also give us wine and cheese and crackers and tell us of the history of the town, and give us warnings about the Albemarle - like, "as you enter the Alligator River, follow the marks very carefully.  They've been moved so your chart plotter will run you aground.  Stay well clear of the two red marks - there's significant shoaling near them."
So we did - but Harriet and Skip skipped the meeting.  Oops.

These are some of the cruisers we met at the party.  The guy in the hat, fourth from the right, behind the purse, is Geoff.  He's on a boat named Party of Two (a catamaran) which we saw in the Bahamas when we were there in 2005.  We didn't meet them then but now we have.  The cruising community is geographically a very large community, it's all over the world.  But numerically it's very small and inevitably our paths keep crossing.  In conversations the question, "Do you know..." is almost always met with, "Oh, yeah, we met them in..." (We all speak fluent ellipsis.)

This is Charlotte.  She is with the tourism board in Elizabeth City.  She greeted us on board when first we arrived.  Sunday morning, we also had some Holy Rollers knock on the boat and give us some religious pamphlets. You can never have too many religious pamphlets on board when you're about to cross the Albemarle.  (You may be curious as to why the Albemarle is so mean.  If not, don't read this next sentence.  The Albemarle is shallow. (12 or 14 feet)  And big.  And when wind blows across it large steep waves form which are very close together.   It's all very scientific, with lots of mathematical formulas which I won't go into here.  Suffice it to say that the Albemarle is mean because of mathematical formulas, and just let it go at that.)

So we leave Elizabeth City and sail off into a very different sunrise.  We couldn't take a picture of us leaving because of a logistical problem.  You had to be on the shore to take the picture and we had to be on the boat to leave.  Again, all very scientific and mathematical.  So we'll include a picture  of another boat which you can pretend is ours.  They do that kind of thing in the movies all the time.

Next stop, Deep Point (which isn't) at the end of the Alligator River and before the Alligator Pungo Canal.


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