I was up early as usual, finding myself in a luxurious suite at the Oriental Marina and Inn. The prior day, Young Axson drove me from Belhaven all the way here around some big North Carolina water based on adverse weather reports. We arrived around noon, having left at 9:30 AM. Tom M. was in the office at the marina, and welcomed me enthusiastically, and gave me two pieces of mail, one, my charts purchased back in Portsmouth VA, and the second a burgee sent from John at the Seminole Canoe and Kayak Club. Tom arranged for me to have this suite on the ground floor, where we put Katie just outside the door near a small tree so that I could lock her up. I said goodbye to Axson – he is a nice young man and I enjoyed having the chance to spend some time with him. Later that night, I found my right hip giving me all sorts of difficulty, to the point that each time I got up, it felt like my right leg wanted to come out of its socket – giving me sharp pains. I suddenly thought that I might not be able to continue this journey. I went to bed hoping that a good night sleep would help the hip and allow me to continue. When I arose on Tuesday, it felt very sore, but that I could continue.
I packed up the kayak near a shipyard nearby that had a small beach covered in broken glass, rocks, concrete blocks and all sorts of unmentionables, as I did not trust myself to put in from the marina dock. I left late at 10 AM as I was supposed to meet someone for breakfast that did not show. As I left Oriental, I followed the markers out to the Neuse River, and past Windmill Pt. It was cloudy and threatening, different from the forecast, and with a north wind. I was tempted to cross directly to Adams Creek, but that would take 4 miles and I did not trust the conditions and did not want to repeat my experience on the Rappahannock River. But as I proceeded past Wiggins Pt. I kept feeling the temptation, until a strong gust of wind convinced me not to take that risk. The alternative was to paddle 8 miles upriver (southwest) to a point where I could either paddle across when the other shore was only 1 and 1/4 miles, or to take a free ferry.
I finally arrived before noon to the location of the Minnesott/Cherry Pt. ferry, and one of these boats was getting ready to leave. The large waves from the wind coming down the river from the west were crashing against the local houses’ bulwark, and I initially could not figure how I was going to get out and get Katie up to the ferry entrance. Then on the right, I saw a private house boat ramp, with a small piece of beach to its left. I looked at the scene, trying to figure out how to manage it given the waves. I decided to drive the kayak into the beach, jump out before it swamps, tie a line to the bow, push Katie back out into the waves, and after putting the cart on her stern, pull her out with all of the gear on, and that is exactly what I did. It worked well, except that one of the tires to the cart was really flat. I just pulled her up the ramp, then up the road to the entrance, and finally put her down next to a small line of cars waiting to go on. No one came to tell me I could not go on, and finally, the next ferry arrived. After all the cars were loaded up, I walked Katie on, and arranged for a young man to take a picture of us taking a ride across. 25 minutes later, we arrived at Cherry Pt., but my worst fears were realized. There were no low docks to get me back on the water. I thought, ok Lord, what do we do now? There was an office close by, so I walked in, and told the lady in charge what I was doing and my current dilemma. She conversed with some of the members of the office – there were security personnel and Coast Guard representatives, and they offered to help me get to a nearby beach. I will not describe what they did, but it was great. They were so helpful and their attitude was terrific. After they left me off at the beach, I walked Katie down to the edge, and returned back to the side of the road to have something to eat – an apple and some trail mix (gorp). As I sat down, tears of gratitude came down my face for all the blessings I just experienced. I continued to cry, for the loneliness, for all the sheer effort to paddle this big water, for fighting the wind and waves. It soon stopped, and I finished my simple meal: I had to get going as there was another 6 miles back to reach Adams Creek and it was 1:30 already.
The paddle to that creek was a slog, with wind and waves coming from my left. I stopped once to rest for a few minutes and stretch the back. I finally turned southeast into the creek, and for a couple of miles, those waves continued to follow me, but this time, I was going in the same direction, and eventually, they lay down. In two miles, the creek turned south to the right, and the water became calm and enjoyable to paddle. It was getting late, and I felt some sprinkles – not a good omen for the evening. I finally found a decent campsite across from some houses just past mile marker 190. A fine mist started coming in the growing gloom. I quickly put up the tent and rain fly, and the blue tarp, so that I could cook something hot to eat. Everything was wet from the previous day’s rain storms, and so I pulled out my dry twigs that I had been carrying all this time in a small bag, and we quickly had a nice fire going in the small wood stove, cooking up enough water to mix with two packages of instant oatmeal. It was delicious, and warmed me up for what turned out to be a cold, damp night. As I fell asleep, I reflected on the magic that surrounded the crossing on the ferry, and said my prayers of thanksgiving. Another day was done. With the late start, and the time spent waiting for the ferry, then the time spent trying to get back on the water, the 20 miles done was a good effort, and due to the blessings received, I rated the day a 4.
SURPRISE! Kathy & Mike Mitchell here (Den Bosch) with greetings from Colorado and congratulations on your quest. Spoke to Grace and heard of your adventures. Will follow now.
This could be training for some Rocky Mountain stuff next summer! Climbing 14ers (14,000 ft peaks) with Mike. Grand! keep it up, Lad, you’re doing well!