Manteo to Ocracoke

I kinda like these blog posts with titles that say we’ve traveled. Being so far north at the beginning of January wasn’t part of the plan, but the southwesterlies that trapped us in Manteo finally gave in and let us leave. The long Roanoke Sound Channel (leaving Manteo for the Pamlico Sound) is thin and mostly straight while heading south. Dozens of duck blinds spotted the waters but only a few hunters were out. The channel goes between rock and sand islands, but mostly just between shoals that lurk under one or two feet of water, waiting to grind the keel of the unwary sailor. (We aren’t that sailor.) The Bodie Island Light came into view as we motored along, a light wind hinting at the possibility of sailing once free of the channel. Then we came to the crossroads. The rule of thumb in marking a channel goes “Red, Right, Returning”. This means that the red markers are on your right hand side, to starboard, when you’re heading into somewhere. They’ll be to port when you leave. This simple rule gets complicated when channels meet up. The entire way down the Roanoke Sound Channel, we were leaving the sound and so the reds were on our left. There’s a place, however, where what seems to be the same channel becomes the Old House Channel, which is considered the return from offshore via Oregon Inlet. This means that the reds and greens…switch sides mid-trip. With shoals on both sides. As we were motoring along, approaching the change point, I (Dena) realized that the markers weren’t even shown on the charts. The bottom shoals so fast and the channel moves so often, that they don’t make any promises about where it is safe to go. Okay. I pulled out the binoculars[…]

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