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Close to Home

Each November Matthews Point hosts a party devoted to roasting and eating the game that marina members have harvested. This year Jet and Mike supplied boar and venison for the grill, and Maryl made a delicious venison stroganoff. Afterwards there was a matchless dessert array, and then Jason Ross put on a fine performance of his own distinctive take on folk and traditional music.

Over late evening drinks, my of-times sailing partner Dan and I hatched plans for a quick late fall sailing trip to Shackleford Banks. We would run down Adams Creek, relying on the falling tide, light airs and internal combustion to carry us down to Beafort Inlet. Then we could spend a couple of days at Shackleford and catch a forecast southerly breeze back home.

Plans are a fine thing but it pays to be flexible. Dan spent most of Sunday morning running down a couple of minor oil leaks, and we missed our early departure that would have given us a fair tide. With Shackleford out of the picture, we decided to make a quick trip to Oriental, anchoring on Greens Creek, and playing the next days by ear. We dropped lines and sailed out Clubfoot Creek in early afternoon and found light but sailable northeasterlies. Around 5:00 the winds died down. I was about a mile short of Oriental marker 1 and the sun was going down, so I motored in. The last light of day was fading as I came to the upper reaches of Greens Creek. Something was in the middle of the creek, and I was almost on it before I recognized it as a Compac sailboat with the mast out. I circled it and found it to be anchored and secure, so I felt ok about anchoring nearby. I moved over fairly close to the bank in 5 feet of water, dropped the engine into neutral and let go the anchor. It ran out a few feet, then jammed below the hauser. Now the boat was drifting down into shallow water as I feverishly threw things out of the v-berth so I could crawl forward and free the chain. I quickly found the kink and straightened it out, then motored into position and lowered the anchor.

Well after dark I saw the lights of Marian Claire creeping up the creek. Soon Dan and I were in hailing distance, and I invited him to raft up with Valor for cocktails. He made a perfect approach and soon we were sitting in the cockpit of Valor, watching the stars and drinking rum. Later Dan cast off and moved down creek and set anchor for the night. I turned in early and slept solidly until sunrise.

Somewhere along the line Dan got a call requesting his presence in Raleigh on Wednesday so we made plans to get close enough to Matthews Point to make an early day Tuesday. Dan suggested we meet at a favorite anchorage of his, at the mouth of Long Creek, just around Great Island from Clubfoot Creek. Since I had never been in there, I eagerly agreed. I hauled anchor Monday morning and motored out of Greens Creek. Passing the entrance to Oriental harbor I noticed the town dock was open, so decided to stop at the Bean for a cup of coffee and pick up a needed canister of propane from the Provision Company. I came in slowly, dropped the engine in neutral and gently surged the boat to a halt with a line around the outermost piling. I gave a sigh of relief at performing a perfect docking in front of the critical eyes of the Bean regulars who live to watch the antics on the town dock. Later I headed down the river, spending a pleasant day knocking around Garbacon Shoals and watching an endless stream of southbounders pass by and turn in Adams Creek.

In early afternoon I turned upriver and picked up a fair southeast breeze. Past Oriental I noticed a boat sailing ahead of me that seemed to be slanting toward the mouth of Clubfoot Creek, which I surmised to be Dan. I hailed him on the VHF, and found it was in fact Dan and he was heading for the Long Creek anchorage. I told him I would follow him in. From outside Clubfoot marker 1, he made a tack into the bay between Great Island and Great Neck Point, then another to run parallel to shore into the mouth of Long Creek. As I followed him in, I saw him drop anchor and dowse the sails. I sailed past him, turned up into the wind and dropped my own sails, then motored over and rafted to Marian Claire's starboard side. We had drinks and then I cast off and moved in close to the shoreline, where I set anchor.

Long Creek would be an ugly place in a north wind, but it offers good protection from the south and fair from the west or east. The night brought light southerly winds and rain showers. In the morning, I was awakened by shotgun blasts which in my half-asleep state I took for someone banging on the side of the boat. I jumped up and looked out to find nobody around and a flat calm with light fog. Marian Claire was motoring off toward the river. After a while I pulled anchor and slowly worked in close to shore, trying to find out how far in the deep water ran. I got in to probably not more than 100 yards from shore before the depths dropped under 7 feet.

I motored out into the river, rounded marker one, tied the tiller and did a little cleanup around the cockpit as Valor guided herself in the mouth of the creek. A big pod of dolphin were roaming about, slashing the surface and pacing alongside the boat, so I occupied myself taking photographs of them. I tied up on the Matthews Point dock at about 9:00 in the morning. We didn't get far from home, but it was a great trip nevertheless.