Dawn on Bell Creek. Calm water, no wind. Mosquitoes. I hop out of the bivy, start the outboard and haul in the anchor. Soon I am drifting out in open water, cleaning up the boat and chasing away the bugs.
Sails up before 7. Barely a breath of wind as we make a slow drift south across the Pamlico River. I can hear the birds in the marsh. Schools of bait fish ruffle the surface of the glassy water. Very peaceful, which is nice after last night's storms.
At 8:30 we are halfway across the river and I can feel the heat of the day. I start the outboard and motor towards Pamlico Point at idle speed. I can see the purple and white jellyfish just beneath the surface of the water. Blue crabs swim by, very intent on getting somewhere. Three boats drift off of Pamlico Point, people on board casting lures.
There is a bit of wind and I shut down the outboard, sail to the grassy shoreline just west of the point. Three casts and I have a speckled trout in the boat. It is barely legal so I put it back in the water. With the light breeze out of the southeast I work up and down the shoreline for about fifty yards, keeping Spartina even with a line of crab pots. From there I can cast right up to the grass line and work the twin tailed lure back along the shallow bottom.
I hook two more trout but lose them before they get to the boat. I need to buy a hook sharpener. A few more casts and I bring in another trout, this one worth keeping.
I turn Spartina away from shore, round Pamlico Point and anchor in Mouse Harbor. It is time for Sunday brunch.
Sweet potato slices with cajun seasoning sizzle on the grill while I clean the fish. I wish I had a lime. Lightly seasoned, the filets go on the griddle. On a calm morning in Mouse Harbor I enjoy the unexpected brunch.
After packing away the cooking gear I jump in the water for a swim. I clean the bottom with a scouring pad for the third time on the trip. I swim and relax and enjoy the coolness of the water. Then I feel the burn as a jellyfish drifts by.
Out of the water I search my first aid kit for ointments. I find two, neither of which seem appropriate for treating jellyfish stings. I mix the two together and rub them on my back and my lower legs. The combination seems to work.
The wind is east, swinging to southeast as I leave Mouse Harbor and sail south along the Porpoise Bays and Middle Bay. Just two tacks as we sail south at between four and five knots. We pass Sow Island Point at the mouth of Jones Bay at 3 p.m. We cross the mouth the bay and enter a cove behind Boar Point. I have sailed past the cove three or four times over the past few years, always thinking it would make a nice anchorage. I round up and drop the anchor before 4 p.m.
Hobucken and Pate Boat Yard are just a few miles up the river, I could easily be there by dark. But it is a pleasant evening and I've got a few more chapters to read in my book.