The below is a comprehensive visual explanation of the Albemarle / Pamlico Sound (located on the North Carolina coast). When we were Southbound (red route) from Norfolk, VA we chose to take the slightly shorter, shallower, more beautiful route (in my opinion) – The Dismal Swamp and stopped in Elizabeth City, NC. We continued our ICW deviation by skirting the shallow inner banks to Roanoke Island and around to Stumpy Point and then down to the historic pirate-y island of Ocracoke (one of my favorite stops).
When we were making our way back up, Northbound, we stayed true to the ICW passage (blue route). Maybe we were tired of traveling but it was just buggy and hot motoring up the Pugo and Alligator Rivers. It wasn’t particularly memorable. In those 4 anchorages only once did we have a sailing neighbor on anchor. Aside from the frequent visits of dolphins, the highlights of this stretch were spotting two American Eagles. One was a mature bald eagle, the other was a brown juvenile bald eagle, as it had not gained the token white head and tail feathers.
For most of our tour, the wind was a pesky 5 knots from the stern, which relays to zero apparent wind. When the wind died completely, it made for a very idyllic ICW ride.
We also had two Apache helicopters fly over. And watched two F15 Eagles and two F18 Hornets perform drills overhead. You could hear the jet engines scorching the sky but it took forever to spot the two specs in the sky and once you did, it was phenomenal to see them approach until poof they were gone again, past your field of vision. They flew “in proximity” to our sailboat twice, whilst we cruised along at a tortoise speed. I stood on the bow and waved my arms in the air and we both ‘wooped n hollered’ as they swooped near us. That alone gave us both a thrill that made the days heat and slow progress worth it.
In certain areas we experienced hellish green head flies that would dive-bomb buzz your face then bite the back of your leg. We learned the most important thing on the ICW (in summer) is a good fly swatter. Or …. our newest favorite living thing on Earth…. dragonflies. At one point Mike swatted two flies from his arm. Only tackling one to the ground, the other continued to gnaw at his leg. Before he could shake it off a dragonfly swooped in eating both flies. The dragonflies have these tiny talons that will stick your skin uncomfortably but we didn’t mind so much when they landed on us anymore. These guys could hitch a ride whenever they wanted for however long.