Welcome to North Carolina

Leaving the Great Bridge Marina after taking on water and diesel, we had the distinct pleasure of breaking ice for the second time on our so far very cold journey. While Temujin can be considered “classic plastic” a term nodding to the early years of fiberglass boat production in which hulls were laid significantly thicker than they are today, she is by no means an ice breaker, and if a thin plate of ice were strong enough to pierce her bow, we would have real problems.

                Let us pause here for a moment to reinforce just how cold the trip has been to date. It has been cold. Very, very cold. I have no nose, the use of my hands matches the dexterity displayed by dogs, and I will make any excuse to change a headsail simply to keep warm- that kind of cold. The wicked triumvirate of wind chill, humidity and spray would have made for excruciating watches were it not for our early voyage exuberance and the promise of the tropics in a few short weeks. We also left in January, so that part is on us.

                Boiling coffee and making our way to the first bridge of the day, we were joined by a beautiful Hinkley Ketch named “Independence”. Her high freeboard glistened over a coat of hunter green with a gold cove stripe running the length of her hull and accentuating her elegant lines.  She had two cockpits. The main cockpit, located in the center, took care of the business side of things. It housed her wheel and gave access to her main winches and control lines. Aft of this, in the shade of her mizzen mast, was a small cockpit opening into the stateroom, much like the wrought-iron balconies found on Spanish colonial homes. With few lines running to this cozy space, its primary design function no doubt had something to do with a breakfast table or a cigar.

                We shot the breeze with her captain and his wife, a friendly couple from Bristol, Connecticut, en route to Charleston to visit their son. As we draw considerably less in the water than Independence, it was decided that we would lead the two boat caravan to Coinjock, NC, alerting them of shallow spots with a sudden lack of forward progress.

                We navigated this shallow, winding, and difficult stretch of the ICW with, in our own estimation, poise and grace. Passing through mile after mile of grassy marsh broken up by the occasional solitary tree bearing exposed roots, we were reassured of our performance by periodic radio check-ins from our compatriots behind.

                In the first mile of the North Landing River Temujin crossed into her third state under our stewardship. Despite a relatively narrow and shallow river bed perfectly suited to holding pilings bearing a placard reading “Welcome to North Carolina”, we did not find one, and watched as the little blue triangle marking our position on the chart plotter passed over the Virginia / North Carolina border. To the background of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” we crossed into the great state of North Carolina, raising a courtesy flag in the form of a Wake Forest flag- the Demon Deacon grinning proudly over the brackish marshland.

                We left Independence in the picturesque town of Coinjock, NC, whose population of 335 inhabit opposing shores of a narrow canal. Proceeding on to Buck Island, our chosen anchorage, we found that while they've proved a fantastic place to be a low draft boat, the marshes of northern North Carolina are decidedly not a great place to be a duck. John boats piloted by men in camouflage jumpsuits seemed to speed out of every conceivable finger and creek, and a few times an hour the pops of shotguns could be heard, always in even numbers, signaling the end to some poor duck’s day.

Eric Bihl