I make a clumsy departure from Belhaven. Reef lines poorly tied, we round up by the big yawl anchored on the creek to set things proper, then out through the breakwater before turning south with a following wind. Under the hot sun the solar panel on the foredeck revives camera batteries tucked behind the forward coaming.
Wing and wing, running down the wide Pungo River with the lowered mizzen looking like a flower blossom, I have the river to myself. Sailing with the mizzen down is a rare event on Spartina, but the wind is on our stern and plenty strong. Passing Woodstock Point the broad expanse of the Pamlico River appears to the south. With the chart book to a new page, the sixth so far on this trip, I see the entrance to Slade Creek due east, and remember sailing up that way on a hot, hot day, tucking into Allison Creek for a swim and a brief whirlwind of a storm at night.
The gps brushes up close to five knots, then slips back down as we cross the Pamlico River under full sail with a moderating wind that nearly disappears at the entrance to Goose Creek.
We motor sail down the canal, past the tiny Coast Guard station and the trawlers tied alongside the old fish house, people fishing from the dock that runs along shore. At marker "21" the tiller goes to starboard and we enter Jones Bay. A couple of hundred yards down the bay we turn again into a creek, one that I can find in the marsh with the help of my gps. The creek splits and I watch the mast slipping between trees leaning in both port and starboard.
Shawn, with a curious look on his face, peers out the side of of the big blue shed at Pate Boat Yard, wondering if that putt-putt-putt was maybe a low flying plane. But no, it was my Honda four-stroke at idle as we arrive on a visit unannounced.
Shawn helps me tie up and I talk with his friends who are soon to leave. A beer with Shawn, then a tour of the boat yard to the see the improvements since Hurricane Irene pushed five feet of water up onto the island, spreading mud, debris and destruction everywhere. Two years since that storm and, though Shawn won't admit it, the place looks great.
A brief visit, an enjoyable one. It is late and I need to get to an anchorage before dark. Motoring away from the dock I hear a shout from Beth, who just arrived. I met her at the boat yard sometime after the storm, she makes pottery in a studio Shawn set up for her. Spartina is just entering the ditch and it is too narrow, and too late in the evening, to turn back so we settle for a greetings shouted across the water. I compliment her work, the Native American style pottery Shawn had shown me, and she responds with a compliment for Spartina.
Back out to Jones Bay with the sun dropping to the horizon. It is calm with a forecast of no winds for the night and we can anchor just about anywhere. We round up near Drum Creek on the north side of the bay, just far enough off the marsh grass to avoid the mosquitoes. Then dinner with a setting sun.