I awoke to find Katie exactly where I left her – the big barges from last night had not shifted her position. It was easy to pack up (no dinner cooked) and I decided to eat breakfast later on the road, as it were. I checked the weather, and the forecast was not a good one for Tuesday, the following day. So, we would need to make good headway today (Monday) in order to leave as little as possible for the following day. Monday was supposed to be wet, and the sky looked very gray and somewhat threatening, so I did not want to waste a lot of time getting off. By 8:30 I was heading again east on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, its formal name. This continued in a straight shot until North Landing, where a creek joined the waterway from the north, and I stopped at a small boat ramp to eat. I continued on the North Landing River, now heading south, as the width expanded with each additional creek joining the river. More fancy boats, as well as sailing vessels, were going in both directions. There were several bridges where boats had to queue up, but of course, I just kept paddling right under them. Several times it started to rain, but mostly it stayed dry. I could hear gunfire in the Virginia forests and marshes as I passed, and I was told that hunting season had started that day – October 1st. I passed West Landing, then headed on to Pungo Ferry, location of a defunct marina, but where I landed on a beach next to an abandoned building, to get out of the rain and the freshening wind, and eat some lunch. (I have found my appetite not so great these days, and it is an effort to eat something to keep up my energy). While I was eating my apple, I helped an older couple secure their boat – they were waiting for some sailboats to catch up with them on their way back to Portsmouth. Another large motorboat came by at full speed and caused the first boat to really bounce around – very poor manners! I realigned my map in the map case when I got back into the kayak, and noticed from my chart that I was approaching the 30 mile mark, and gave some thought to trying to make it to Coinjock by nightfall. Could I do another 20 miles in the afternoon? It would all depend on crossing the length of North Landing River, once it opened up into a large bay.
When I got to the open part of the river, I could tell this was not going to be that easy. I left the channel markers that ran right down the middle of the bay, to stay closer to shore to the west. At approximately 1:45, I left Virginia and entered North Carolina. Wow, how neat to actually be making progress! The bay was becoming more windy and the waves more difficult, coming from my left. I passed Troublesome Pointe, to my right, from which I followed west towards the far shore. That took a mile, with the wind behind me, and I was relieved to get to a beach to rest. The back was becoming more sore, and my right hand was not happy from the previous day’s barnacle cuts. After the break, I resumed the slog south along the populated shoreline. The water was very choppy due to the echo waves bouncing off the wooden or rock walls built to prevent erosion. It became very difficult to stay upright, and so I just kept plotting along, saying not such nice things about the wind and the waves. These difficult conditions continued for another 5 miles, and I am not sure how we got through all of that. After mile 40, the contour of the shore turned to the east, where I rested again at a small beach out of the wind and waves. I refolded the chart, so I could see the last 10 miles. It was 5:15, and normally I would be looking for a camping spot, but there was only marsh and everything felt very exposed to the weather. I recalculated the time necessary to get to Coinjock, and there was a possibility I could get there before dark. An excellent hot meal would be waiting for me at the well known eating establishment at the Coinjock Marina and Restaurant. I would have to paddle another two miles of wind and waves, then across a part of Coinjock Bay as the conditions should improve due to being in the lee of the other shoreline. By the time I was back in sheltered water, my right hand was really stinging, and the lower back was in perpetual pain, but I was so close, I just kept paddling, trying to coax every last stroke out of my body . Finally, at 6:30, back in the North Carolina Cut, I saw boats on both sides of the canal. I was exhausted, but at the same time elated, that I had paddled 35 miles that day. And, I would not have to worry about the stormy weather coming on Tuesday. Furthermore, I would have a day of rest before continuing on Wednesday on the Alligator River.
The owner came out to meet me – they were expecting me today or tomorrow. I found some low lying rocks where I could empty Katie, and then use my full mesh bags to help her over those rocks to safety. I decided to put up my tent, and spend $25 for a hot shower and have access to all of the facilities. After the tent was up (in the dark), I grabbed my bag of clothes, and took a loooooooooong shower. Finally, dressed in clean clothes, I went to the restaurant, where I ordered a beer and the small prime rib. I was so happy and relieved to be there, I arranged with William the bartender to buy everyone in the bar (mostly other boat owners that had passed me that day) a drink, in order to celebrate with me my accomplishments of the day. That gesture was very well received, and allowed me to be introduced to a number of people, who all expressed hope that I would reach Florida safely.
Had I not reached Coinjock that night, I would have rated the day a 2, due to poor weather, long distance and difficult crossing of the wide river. However, because of what had been achieved, the pleasure of being safe and off the water, and after a really good meal, I gave the day a 4.