Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
Most of us on this side of the Atlantic probably don't realize it, but back in the 1970s and 80s the French sailboat manufacturers were among the finest in the world. Beneteau and Jenneau had reputations for building rugged, seaworthy, fast boats that had interior furnishings to compete with Morris and Hinckley. The French designers refined the short fin keel with rudder on a separate skeg and put the nail in the coffin for the makers of heavy, long-keeled, traditional boats...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
Years ago I sailed my Cape Dory 25 Valor into Elizabeth City, in the far northeastern corner of the state. I spent several days on the town dock, some of the best days of my years sailing. Dan Boney passed through aboard Marian Claire on his way up the Dismal Swamp Canal, and land-cruising friends Marcia and Joe aboard their Dodge conversion van visited for a couple of days. A big pilot-house schooner Charrua II sailed in from the Dismal Swamp, and I quickly got acquainted with the captain, Paul, and his able crew, Kathy. We spent most of the week sitting in the shade of the awning sheltering the main deck of Charrua II, drinking beer, talking about sailing and life...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
Note: This story takes place a long time ago, and in Wrightsville Beach, not on the Neuse River. The story is true as best remembered by the person that told it, but the names have been changed to protect those involved....more.
Story by David Swanson.
Facilities are few and far between on the upper Albemarle, but boats that draw five feet or less should consider a visit to Mackeys Marina on the south shore of the sound...more.
Review by Paul Clayton.
With all the good marinas lining both banks of the Neuse River, sailors can afford to be discriminating about where they keep their boats. Personally, I'd rather be in a sailboat marina for the quiet and low-wake character. I like a place with good sailing territory right out of the slip, and I like a high level of security so I can leave the boat for weeks at a time and know it is safe. In the ten years I have been on the Neuse, I have kept my boat at Matthews Point Marina because it provides all these things...more.
Review by Paul Clayton.
On Brown Creek, a tributary of Lower Broad, you will find friendly little Ensign Marina. The owner, Nick Santoro, has written a book, which, while ostensibly a novel, reads like a lightly-fictionalized memoir of his time in Oriental. It tells the story of a man who leaves a big northern city for a simpler lifestyle, makes it through the culture shock of settling in Oriental, and goes on to integrate into the somewhat raffish Pamlico County society. Along the way he starts a successful business and marries a local girl...more.
Review by Paul Clayton.
It was early October 2019 and the old, frail, decrepit Alligator River Bridge had marine traffic all tied up. The opening mechanism was broken, parts had to be fabricated, and nobody had a good handle on how long it would take. That meant the bridge was locked down in the "closed" position. To a sailor, that means open for highway traffic, closed for him. Alligator River Marina, just on the north side of the bridge, was doing a booming business, every slip taken and boats lining the fuel docks. The snowbirds were edging south from New England and the Chesapeake Bay, ready to sprint for Florida as soon as hurricane season ended, and they were all piling up at the marina...more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
It looked like a short window of opportunity - Ocracoke Island would reopen to visitors on December 2nd, 2019, and Highway 12 would reopen between Ocracoke Village and South Dock Ferry Landing (so named because it is on the south side of Hatteras Inlet) at the north end of the island later in the week. In the meantime, the temporary ferry route between Hatteras and Silver Lake would continue to run. As soon as the highway reopened, it would be discontinued. If I wanted to add this route to my collection, I had just a few days to do it. And just as important, I wanted to visit Ocracoke and see for myself just how the island was faring...more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
Every spring, hundreds of overloaded, down on their lines cruising boats leave Florida and head north up the ICW. As the miles pass, they rise up. Boot stripes become visible. Crews resort to eating things that they wonder why they ever bought, like canned beets, or spam and yams...more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
These idiosyncratic boats are easy to identify, once you see the first one. The clipper bow, raised deck and numerous portholes in the cabin and the hull, boomed staysail and general appearance of solidity make it hard to mistake this boat for any other. The long, sturdy rubrails, akin to those on Pacific Seacrafts, are a feature that I greatly admire....more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
This classic fiberglass Philip Rhodes design was built in Denmark, with most copies exported to France or the U.S. It was on my short list when I was looking for something to replace Valor, and I came very close to driving to New England to see one that was for sale. As far as I am concerned, this boat has perhaps the best lines of any that I know of, very traditional...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton. Photograph courtesy Bob Senseney.
If you see one, you will know what it is. These little ketches, custom-built in sizes from 30 to 40 feet in length (including the long overhanging bowsprit and boomkin), are unmistakeable. They were built in wood until 1993, though fiberglass hulls were available after about 1990. The yard was, and still is, in Halifax NS, but the days of building sailboats are long gone...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
Bill Tripp designed this boat and the first copies were built in 1957. Migrator Yachts got rights to the design in 1984 and began building it in fiberglass. It has a distinct resemblance to a Hinckley Bermuda 40, no surprise since both boats came from the same designer...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
Many photographs of boats and places from Maryland to Florida, but mostly from the Neuse. If you sail the waters of coastal North Carolina, you are sure to see places you've been, and maybe a picture of your boat...more.
Links to sailing websites, marinas and boatyards, museums, local restaurants, owners associations, and other sites of interest to sailors...more.
Posts about refitting my Alberg 35...more.
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Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 Paul M. Clayton
Cherry Branch Ferry Closed-- Town Dock reports Neuse River Ferry closed the evening of 9/19/20 due to high water.
Leave Now-- Afternoon of Saturday 9/19/20 NCDOT is recommending that visitors to Ocracoke and Hatteras leave now as road conditions on Highway 12 are deteriorating.
Gale Force Winds from the Northeast-- are making for high water on the Neuse and major flooding along Highway 12.
Taylor at the Helm -- Sailing out of Belhaven early morning of 9/15 with a fair wind for Oriental.
On Town Dock -- It's 9/16/20, sailed in to Oriental from Edenton, arriving last night with former Matthews Point denizen Taylor Ward as crew. Tomorrow I move the boat to Sailcraft Service for haulout, will be in yard for several days. Local sailing friends please come see me while I am in the area.
Mystery of Lost Colony Solved? -- Researchers think they have good evidence that the English settlers went to Hatteras Island with the Croatan Indians and integrated into their society. The Virginian-Pilot has an interesting article about research conducted by a team of archaeologists, historians, geologists and others who have been excavating in the Buxton and Frisco areas for the past eleven years and feel they have good evidence that the colonists joined the Croatan settlements there.
Hurricane Damage -- Tornadoes spinning off hurricane Isaias destroyed mobile homes near Windsor in northeastern NC, but the southern coast received more typical wind and storm surge damage. See photographs at Journalnow.com.
Isaias Barrels Through Eastern NC -- A rare storm that passed west of Edenton, it set up a southerly fetch across Pembroke Creek that had Terry Ann rolling on her port lines. Like several recent storms, Isaiah came through in the middle of the night. I awoke at 1:15 AM Monday to gusty southerly winds and heavy rain. Weather radio reported conditions at Edenton as of 1:00 as eight mile per hour winds and light rain, so it appears the first bands of the storm came through between 1:00 and 1:15. Conditions intensified until around 4:00 AM, reaching 30-35 mph winds with gusts up to 55, and heavy rain. After that, the worst of the storm was through. By 6:00 the winds had shifted to the west at 20-25 mph and the rain had ended. Edenton suffered some power outages and downed branches, but no serious damage. My friends Tom and Ann came in the morning from Hertford to inspect their boat Sea Wasp, which came through the storm undamaged. Tom told me that around 2:00 in the morning he had a bout of sneezing and coughing, and I reported that the same thing happened to me. We think that Dominican or Cuban pollen, unfamiliar to our respiratory systems, rode the winds north, causing the response. For a good chart showing the route of the storm, see the NWS summary at Island Free Press.
Sheltering at Edenton -- Three cruising boats are currently sheltering at Scotty Harrell's marina as the hurricane season heats up. Not only is the area well-protected from hurricanes, the Covid virus is uncommon in the northeastern part of NC. Life goes on here as it has in years past. Let's hope it stays this way.
Pop-Up Storm -- On July 8th, 2020, another low off the coast of South Carolina has the potential to develop into a tropical storm in the next day or two as it tracks along coast. See the National Hurricane Center for details.
Bat Out of Hell -- Tropical Storm Bertha appeared out of nowhere and slammed the South Carolina coast the morning of 5/27/20 just east of Charleston. Details at Weather Underground.
Toughest Race in the East -- The infamous Worrell 1000 sailboat race is scheduled to run in 2021, with a stop at Hatteras Island. The participants will sail Formula 18 catamarans offshore 1,000 miles up the Atlantic coast, from Hollywood, Fl to Virginia Beach, in stages. An overview is posted at Island Free Press, and all the details can be found at the official site.
Living Vicariously -- For all of us who are not out sailing this spring, Dale and Cori are still posting regularly at their website Hi Flite. As of late May they are still in the Jumentos/Ragged Islands of the far southern Bahamas. Steve aboard Spartina is cruising the Pamlico River.
Caribbean Report -- Matthews Point friends Dale and Cori aboard their Pearson 424 ketch report from the Ragged Islands.
Another Source of Marina Updates -- Cruiser's Net has a page of information regarding marina closings and status.
COVID-19 Official Government Notices -- Waterway Guide has an up-to-date listing of Official Government Notices dealing with Covid-19 restrictions on marine traffic on the ICW. They also have a table showing marina status along the ICW, though some of the entries are a bit dated.
It's Official - Ocrafolk 2020 is Cancelled -- Ocracoke Alive, Inc. has officially pulled the plug on Ocrafolk for this year. Thanks Mike for the heads-up. In other Outer Banks news, the sand berm just north of Mirlo Beach blew out again on April 1st, leaving Highway 12 closed, covered in sand and water. NCDOT had the road reopened the afternoon of April 2nd. Also the Outer Banks south of Manteo have been closed to visitors to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Goodbye to the Raster Chart -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey announced late 2019 that production of traditional raster charts would end gradually over the next five years. Some recreational sailors prefer raster paper charts or digitized versions (RNCs), but we'll have to start getting used to electronic navigational charts (ENCs). Fortunately, NOAA is working hard to correct some of the issues with ENCs that have held back migration. An overview of the rationale and process is provided by NOAA at their website.
A Good Time to Check -- Now is the time to see that all your boat's paperwork is in order - it goes without saying, current and up-to-date - including Certificate of Documentation, North Carolina Registration, Certificate of Insurance, BoatUS/TowboatUS membership card. Better to take care of this in the throes of winter than on the first nice sailing weekend of spring.
Welcome Visitors -- I got an email from Down Creek Gallery in Ocracoke that they are open and welcome visitors. Proprietor Marissa mentions "I am very open to seeing visitors and am happy to have all of you back. (I also have a restroom, hahahah if need be, although, After the storm, it has been acting up.)" If I see the driver from Kellogg, I'll let him know. Also, Leslie at Books to Be Red emailed me with the following; "I am going to figure out how to brew some coffee."
Some Pictures -- I posted a few pictures from my recent trip to Ocracoke in the Photographs Section.
No Confirmation -- As of mid-day 12/5 I can get no confirmation of rumors that the South Dock - Highway 12 route on Ocracoke will reopen today.
Open for Visitors -- Ocracoke opened for visitors on 12/2/19 and I walked on the Hatteras-Silver Lake ferry the morning of 12/4. After a short delay for the boat to replenish oil and fuel, we set off on a 2 1/2 hour journey that put us in Ocracoke at 2:30. I spent the afternoon walking around town. Most of the people I spoke with were welcoming - in particular, the young men working to get the Community Store ready to reopen, the proprietor at Books to be Red, and the staff at Zillie's. Some were standoffish. This reflects the split between the openers and non-openers that has been a source of acrimony lately. Overall, the town looks great. Anyone worried that the old tree-lined sand roads were damaged, put those worries aside. The trees weathered the storm with little damage. Most of the buildings look ok from the outside, but many are still unoccupied. Facilities are very limited. There are only a couple of restaurants open and nowhere to buy a cup of coffee. So if you visit, bring your own groceries and a thermos of coffee. Verging on the ridiculous, there are no public restroom facilities open on the island. I'm sure some of the open businesses would make theirs available, though the Variety Store prominently posts "No Public Restrooms." The poor driver of the Kelloggs Supply truck from Manteo was frantically looking for a restroom - completely ludicrous to make him, working a 16 hour day to deliver needed building supplies, go through this. Here are the local businesses that I know WELCOME VISITORS - Books to Be Red, Zillies. Other open businesses - 1718 Brewing and associated restaurant, after 5:00; the Variety Store, probably would sell to you but not real welcoming. Any other local businesses that WELCOME VISITORS, email me (address at bottom of page) and I will update this. I rode back to Hatteras on the last Silver Lake-Hatteras run of the evening, perhaps the last run of this temporary route, as the Hatteras-South Dock route is to reopen the morning of 12/5/19.
Maybe December 2nd -- Island Free Press reports that officials have decided that Ocracoke will reopen to visitors on December 2nd. As of November 21st, NC 12 is open from Hatteras north, still closed on Ocracoke, Hatteras-Silver Lake and sound ferries operating but restricted to Ocracoke residents, property owners and contractors.
Dreadful -- A slow-moving but powerful nor'easter over the weekend of November 17th, 2019 has inflicted severe damage on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Numerous breaches have flooded Highway 12 on the north end of Ocracoke Island, making it very unlikely that the paving operation planned to allow the Hatteras Inlet south landing back in operation can be completed by the projected date of November 22nd. Here is a screenshot taken from an NCDOT webcam of Highway 12 on Ocracoke Island. To the north, a major breach at Mirlo Beach has water streaming across the island and flowing along the road. As of Monday morning, the sound ferries are back in operation, providing Ocracoke with an outlet to the south, but with the Hatteras ferry still suspended and the road cut north of Rodanthe, there is no exit from Hatteras Island. No word yet as to how the Core Banks or Cape Lookout fared.
Tugboat On Side Under Old Bonner Bridge -- Island Free Press reports that a tugboat attempting to secure a barge in Oregon Inlet ran aground and turned onto its side. The Coast Guard is investigating.
Always Be Sure to Check -- Since I posted earlier today that the Cherry Point ferry was running, things have gotten worse and Towndock.net reports that it has now been suspended. As of Saturday afternoon, the only route running is Aurora. ***Check That*** A phone call to the Cherry Branch terminal reveals that the ferry was cancelled all along - they neglected to update their twitter feed. So always be sure to check, but be prepared for the information you receive to be wrong.
Another One -- Another week, another brutal wintry front. As of November 16th, all the ferries except Aurora and Cherry Point are suspended due to high winds, Highway 12 is marginally passable from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe. Oceanside flooding is expected for the northern Banks, soundside flooding for southern Pamlico. Hodges Street in Oriental is flooded, the Bean is closed for the day. Other news, tempers are starting to fray in Ocracoke and the mud-slinging has begun between the pro- and anti-openers. Dueling letters to and from the editor at Ocracoke Current suggest all is not well on the little island. But with visitors still not allowed, not even for the day, and the national and regional press moved on to other things, the rest of us here in NC have little to go on other than speculation and hearsay. The Ocracoke Current and Island Free Press are doing what they can to fill the void. Hyde County and Ocracoke town officials are studiously silent.
Cold Front -- It's November 8th and out on the sounds the winds are gusting to 40 knots. Even in sheltered Edenton we are seeing upper 20s. Behind the front it is forecast to get cold - 28 degrees tonight and maybe some snow next week. This morning I winterized the Atomic 4, so let it come. Ocracoke is isolated, as cross-sound and Hatteras ferry routes are shut down due to wind. The other routes are running, as of mid-day.
Nothing to Do with Neuse River Sailing -- but it does involve a boat. Lake Norman Runabout.
Visiting Tampa Bay? -- Surprisingly reasonable for Florida, here is a rate sheet for St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, 2019.
Oh Really? -- Deep in an article at Island Free Press I found the following - "Because South Dock requires constant maintenance, NCDOT is exploring the feasibility of constructing a new ferry dock just north of the pony pens on Ocracoke and abandoning everything north of that area." Retrenchment from the northern end of Ocracoke Island, hmmm...
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