Harbor Of Hospitality

Saturday November 3, 2012

Trying to beat all of the other boats out of the swamp this morning we planned for anchors up at seven-thirty once more.Looking back to see three of the other boats still there with no one in the cockpit I was pleased with our early wake-up call and that we should beat all of them to Elizabeth City and hopefully snag any remaining spots at the free docks.. As we were turning on our engine to warm it up I saw the boat that had followed us in last night make a break for it on the other side of Goat Island where we all sat. At first I was a little upset that someone was beating us but then I felt bad they had run into a tree and figured if anyone deserved a spot at the docks it was them. While hauling the anchor up we were treated to a beautiful sunrise in the swamp. There may not be much to look at while motoring through all day but it has provided us with some of the best sunsets and sunrises we’ve seen in awhile. Before the sun could even break through the trees the sky was a soft pink with fog rising off the water with the backlit trees looking like cut-outs.

 There was only seven miles left until town and along the way I kept an eye on the boat ahead of us through the AIS signal they were putting off to see what marina they ended up at. Once they got to town I watched as they passed each marina by and kept moving toward the Albemarle Sound. I wasn’t sure if this meant they had plans to pass through Elizabeth City altogether or if all the slips at the marinas were full and they were now in search of an anchorage. Coming in only fifteen minutes behind them we kept our eyes peel for the wharf offering the free slips for forty-eight hours and out of the corner of my eye I saw the large ‘Harbor of Hospitality’ welcome sign that I recognized from our friends Water Music’s blog and saw there were still plenty of open slips. Even though they appeared to be stern-to slips there was no way we were going to try backing in and it looked as if no one else had either. Fighting a bit of a current we had to make a few attempts but there was a local standing at the docks as well as another boater that were able to grab our lines and help us tie off. Once we were secured we helped Rode Trip into the spot next to us just as we saw the line of boats anchored with us at Goat Island come under the lift bridge and start looking for spots as well and there were enough for everyone to fit.

Getting out of our uniform of pajamas that we had been wearing all day and night while traveling we changed into real clothes and the four of us tried to find the best way off our boats and on to the dock. Doing some fancy jumps and manuvers we all made it to shore with no one falling in the water. Right in front of us a farmers marker was spread out on the lawn with booths full of fresh fruits, veggies and jams. Doing some quick browsing we promised the sellers we’d probably be back later to make some purchases, but at the moment we needed to get to the post office before it closed. Finding the main road it was located on the first thing that popped out to me was a sign for Taco Bell. Something we can never seems to find in any of the cities we visit and told ourselves we’d come back to it later for lunch or dinner. Then following the street down a little further we saw a sign for Hardees. Not only had we been drawn to there for dinner in Hampton Roads because of the commercials broadcast while making our way down the Chesapeake, but they had some breakfast meals that were calling out to us and we pulled in for a quick side trip. Grabbing the food to go and getting back on track we found the post office just up the road and Matt and Brian went in to grab all the packages while I sat outside stuffing my face with my hot greasy breakfast.

Walking out with four large boxes we tore into them like it was Christmas, and it’s almost like it was since two of them were care packages sent from each of our families. While Matt excitedly pulled out new lines and autopilot parts I opened the packages from family. In addition to sending the placemats and pie tin we asked for, Matt’s mom had added three bags of seasonal coffee grounds, plus Skittles and Snickers. Those are our favorite candies and if you ever want to suck up to us, that’s all it would take. Moving on to the package from my mom we received new mixing bowls and food storage containers plus long underwear for me (could not have come at a better time), games and gadgets. Christmas for Serendipity indeed. Trying to take everything out of the boxes and fit them into our backpacks we went back to the boats with another side trip to a used goods store where the guys purchased a tackle box full of lures to split up. Dropping our loot back off at the boats we walked up the street to the Museum of the Albemarle. Free of charge, this museum has a full history of the area going back from the indigenous people of the area, to the first settlers to current times. Having nothing else taking up our day we spent a few hours there reading all the signs and plaques. When we finished there was a room that was most likely meant for children to play dress up in costumes from the Civil War era, but it didn’t take us long to start throwing on outfits and posing in front of a murals wallpaper on the wall. Sometimes grown-ups need play time too.

Just as we were getting ready to leave the museum a large group of senior citizens came in and we thought it might have been a field trip from a nearby community. Walking out the door though the parking lot was lined up with old Fords. Spending a few minutes walking down the line of cars and admiring the details we started wandering the blocks around town to see what else there was to do. It turns out there wasn’t a whole lot and it seems like a lot of the shops close up early, or at least on Saturdays. We did find a few bars that looked interesting and one even had a sign out front for karaoke. This is something Stephanie and I having been wanting to do for a long time so we made plans to come back after dinner with some pre-singing cocktails on Rode Trip. Having spent some time on our own boats getting chores done and fixing dinner we went over there to do a little planning for the next few days of travel. Walking down the companionway we saw that Stephanie had laid out a spread of cheeses had had out wine. A little backstory is that Elizabeth City has what’s called the Rose Buddies. Started by two friends back in the 80’s the city will try and host a wine and cheese party whenever five or more boats are docked along the waterfront. Not only were there more than five boats there at the time, but at least five had just come in that morning. Waiting all morning and afternoon for someone to come tell us when it was (I think it’s held right at the docks), the party was never hosted and I was left a little disappointed. Stephanie, being as sweet as she is, decided to host her own little wine and cheese party for us when we came over.

Filling up on wine and cheese and planning out the next few days we completely lost track of time and when we looked at the clock it was too late to go to the bar with the early departure time we were going to have the next day. It may be daylight savings and we may be gaining an hour tonight, but all that means for us is that we get up an hour earlier to still rise with the sun.