Wednesday, June 3, 2009

day three - the battle of mosquito creek

Awoke to a beautiful, buggy morning. At other anchorages the mosquitoes arrived at sunset and left shortly after they realized they could not get to us. In this particular creek they buzzed outside the mosquito screen all night long. No problem at all for sleeping, but they were waiting for us in thick clouds the next morning. It was a great sunrise, so I hopped out to get a photograph. Bruce showed his support for the effort while comfortably zipped inside his bug-free bivy. 

(I must interject here. Steve had indeed informed me that if the mosquitoes had no reward after sundown then they wouldn't stay around. That certainly proved to be the case on our first night. I am of that age where I need to "go" at least once during the night. On the first night I got up, no mosquitoes and I enjoyed not only great relief but one of the most beautiful night skies I had seen in some time. So, trusting in Steve's theory, relying on the previous night's experience, having another great sky and not seeing any of the winged demons around (I should have put my glasses on) I got up. I was barely in mid-stream so to speak when at least four or five squadrons of angry invaders took to my body. I am sure they were getting revenge for being denied all night. I let out a howl and closed up my business. I looked helplessly for my repellent but to no avail. Wave after wave decended upon my unprotected parts. I made a mad dash back to my bivy followed by buzzing and the faint bugle calls of a mosquito cavalry charge. A few made their way past my defenses and I found myself engaged in hand to hand combat for another thirteen minutes. The next morning blood staind the whiteness of my bivy floor. My blood, but their miserable bodies lay twisted and splattered where they fell. I believe we won the war, but I had over twenty bites, some where I dare not mention. After Steve made his heroic dash from Mosquito Creek, I jumped out of my bivy, as was my strategy, to help in case there was to be a counter attack.  I thought my strategy was perfect, Steve thought me a bit cowardly. But after I relayed my battle of the prior evening he provided a small bit of sympathy. These were perhaps the only bites I received the remainder of the trip.)

So once Bruce climbed out of his bivy we motored away from the marsh (and mosquitoes), re-anchored and cleaned up the boat.
I've had two distinctly different experiences with mosquitoes down in the marshes and have come to believe it has to do with the nature of the marsh grass. Where the marsh grass is green the mosquitoes are small and not very aggressive. Where the marsh grass is brown, such as with this marsh, the mosquitoes are very large, numerous and very aggressive. They just won't go away. Are these two different varieties of mosquito? I don't know. But there is a clear difference in size and behavior.  Why is some of the marsh green and why is some brown?  I don't know that either.  But in the future I will anchor farther from shore when the marsh grass is brown.
In reality, with a bivy sac for a good night's sleep, it isn't that big of a deal ( my opinion only - Bruce may think otherwise). But ten or fifteen minutes of dealing with the little pests is not that much of a price to pay for a great day on the water.

We made a couple of tacks in Spencer Bay and slipped behind a little islet at the mouth and entered Pamlico Sound. The light wind picked up from the south and we crossed the mouth of the Pungo River at 3.5-4 knots. Great sailing on wide open water.

The wind fell off after a couple of hours and we motor sailed west. Lines of clouds streamed up from the south as the air became increasingly humid. A quick rain storm arrived late morning and the wind returned as the showers moved on.

By early afternoon we had passed our planned anchorage at Mixon Creek and kept on going towards Bath. The wind swung from the south to the east and we sailed wing and wing at 4 knots on a grey, humid afternoon. It wouldn't last, the wind died two miles short of Bath Creek. We started out the outboard and headed to the dock.

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