Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
My friend Doug Sanderson, author of "Following the Dragon", has a mantra that every wannabe cruiser would do well to adopt - NRLA. That stands for "Not ready - leave anyway". So despite the fact that I still had work to do on my Alberg 35 Terry Ann, I proceeded with my plans to sail in late May 2017 for points north. "Plans" might be too strong a word - I just knew that I wanted to see new water, and my 2016 trip to the eastern Albemarle Sound had whetted my appetite for seeing more of the northeastern part of the state...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
It was decided, or the way many times these things are decided for us, that if Vic and Gigi wanted to continue their live aboard and cruising lifestyle, that they were going to have to move from a sailboat to a power boat. The physical demands of dealing with sails and the relatively cramped living space was getting to be just too much for the two of them. This was not an easy decision...more.
Story by Mike Doster.
Ocracoke. To some the name produces images of pirates, long stretches of undisturbed beaches and “high tiders”. To me it is the Ocrafolk Festival. I first learned of the festival shortly after acquiring the Annie Belle and decided to check it out. Dan from the Marian Claire and I were both fairly new to this boating thing, and he agreed to crew with me the first couple of trips over. We are both fans of live music and it seemed like a natural fit. Now, several years later it has become a yearly ritual...more.
Story by Mike Doster.
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.
Doug Sanderson is not out to achieve his personal best or cross something off his bucket list. He's just out for a fun sail in the Bahamas and up the East Coast. His book is more like a long, extended conversation with a good friend over a bottle of something, as he looks back through his log books and relates the story of a trip on a boat. This is a comparatively recent book, the voyaging taking place in the early 2000s, so it is probably a good description of cruising in the Bahamas and up the East Coast to Newfoundland today. The story starts in Seattle, aboard Doug's Westsail 28 home, with a desire to take a long voyage, somewhere, anywhere...more.
Review by Paul Clayton.
Hurricane Matthew skirted the coast early October 2016 and briefly made landfall at McClellansville, but there was never any doubt that the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, scheduled for October 15th and 16th, would go on....more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
I have made a few of these and the best design I have found is Larry and Lin Pardey's from their "Cost Conscious Cruiser" book. This has been published in article form in numerous magazines and online publications. My version is a little different - rather than sewing in a double bottom, I use a second boltrope around the bottom and then pound in a round wooden piece to serve as a bottom....more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
Each year, on the third Saturday in October, the little town of Georgetown in the low country of South Carolina puts on the biggest and best wooden boat show in the southeast. Dozens of exhibitors bring their creations, restorations, or well-preserved classics to show off, either in the water along the Harborwalk or on Front Street, the main thoroughfare of downtown....more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
For the time, this boat was considered a high-performance cruiser, with a short fin keel, rudder on a skeg and big centerboard, and even now is capable of fast passages. With a fairly high freeboard, there is plenty of headroom in the narrow cabin, and the nine-foot cockpit can hold a party. The mainsail is high aspect, and most examples sheeted to a traveler in the cockpit...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
Traditional appearance above the water line, long fin and spade rudder below. The boat has wide side decks and a big open foredeck to make sail handling safe and easy...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
With only 78 built, you are much less likely to see one of these than big sister Westsail 32s, but they share many spotting characteristics - long bowsprit, cutaway bulwarks at the bow, external chainplates and transom-hung rudder, to name a few. The hull form is different, with more cutaway in the forward sections, and the rig is higher in aspect...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.
You can contact this site by emailing email@example.com.
Copyright © 2017 Paul M. Clayton
Reasonable Rates -- Anyone exploring the St. Johns River might consider spending some time at The Boathouse Marina in Palatka. Attached is a rate sheet accurate as of October 2017.
Shoaling in the Cape Fear? -- Or wrong side of the marker? This amazing video,, reportedly taken by a backyard webcam in Southport, shows a deep-sea freighter hitting a shoal and slewing 180 degrees. Thanks Charlotte Observer for posting the video.
New Ferry on the Way -- The NC Ferry Division has signed a contract with Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana for a new River-Class ferry, to be delivered in 2019. The boat will replace old stalwart Thomas A. Baum, a familiar sight on the Neuse River.
October 31st 2017 Update on Dismal Swamp Canal -- Thanks Dan for pointing me to this update at The Waterway Guide. The canal is open with a minimum depth of 5.5 feet. Before trying to navigate the canal, read the article at Waterway Guide for important details regarding widths, lock and bridge opening schedules and duckweed infestations.
Old Canal Passage -- Neuse River sailor David Swanson sent me an email in late October 2017 about his transit of Old Canal, the connector between Turnagain Bay and Long Bay: "I finally made it to Turnagain Bay, and through the Old Canal, this Friday. I went through with my centerboard down, without incident. My depth sounder was not working, but I had no issue with getting into the bay either, just followed the chart. I anchored a ways past the entrance to the Old Canal, and had relatively few mosquito problems. What I did have Saturday morning was a LOT of small fishing boats - there must be a boat ramp up there somewhere. Also the Marines put on quite a show." David notes that with the board down, his boat draws a bit over four feet. It's great to hear that this ancient waterway is still navigable. The Old Canal is part of the early route from Core Sound to the Neuse River, bypassing the often rough Pamlico Sound by way of the Thorofare Canal and West Bay.
Fort George Island Marina -- I stopped by on an October 2017 road trip and found them open for business with plenty of transient space. The marina is at the mouth of the St. Johns River, just outside of Jacksonville FL.
Dismal Swamp Canal Still Closed -- As of 10/26/17 the Canal is still closed and there is no word from the Corps of Engineers as to a prospective opening date.
Alligator River Bridge Closure -- The bridge, which ordinarily opens on demand, will be kept closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, November 6th, 2017, through Friday, November 17th, 2017. The bridge will open on 2 hours notice or for emergencies. Thanks Salty Southeast for keeping us updated on this situation. My suggestion is that southbounders should try to fleet through and designate one boat to negotiate the 2 hours notice with the bridgetender. It's an inconvenience, but the road crews need uninterrupted time to perform much-needed repairs to the bridge.
Southbounders Be Aware -- Much of Florida is still recovering from hurricane Irma. On October 26th, 2017 I spoke with staff at Oasis Boat Yard & Marina in St. Augustine who stated that accomodations were almost impossible to find in the area. Oasis has no dock space available for transients and the yard is booked until February. The city docks are damaged and have very limited space. Mooring balls are not being rented until divers can examine them, and that work is proceeding slowly. And to top it all off, there is much unmarked shoaling that makes it difficult to get into local facilities. Oasis regretfully suggests that you not plan a stop at St. Augustine this fall unless you already have reservations lined up. I heard from another source that Titusville was less affected and might be a better place for a layover.
Almost All Clear -- Thursday evening, 9/28/17, all ferry routes except Knotts Island are back in operation. The visitors restrictions on Hatteras and Ocracoke have been lifted. There is still some standing water on Highway 12 and local streets, but cautious drivers will be fine.
Cherry Point - Minnesott Back on Line -- as of 9/27/17, Wednesday morning.
Probably Just a Flesh Wound -- but still ugly. Outer Banks photograph Don Bowers posted these photographs of flooding for Island Free Press on 9/26/17. Looks like some of the stacking lanes at the ferry terminal at the north end of Ocracoke Island are gone. The good news is that things should start getting better by Wednesday afternoon or evening.
Most Ferry Service Suspended -- As of 5:00 PM 9/26/17 the Ferry Division's Twitter feed reports all routes suspended due to weather EXCEPT Southport-Fort Fisher and Bayview-Aurora.
Hatteras Island Too -- As of mid-day, 9/25/17, there is a mandatory evacuation in effect for visitors to Hatteras Island. The main concern is overwash cutting Highway 12 and making it impossible to leave. Some cross-sound ferry service is suspended due to high wind. Story here. Check the Ferry Division's Twitter feed for which boats are running.
Oh No, Not Again! -- Ocracoke Island is under a state of emergency, with mandatory evacuation of all visitors effective the morning of 9/25/17, in expectation of hurricane Maria. Story here.
Georgetown Wooden Boat Show -- The best boat show in the southeast is coming up October 21st and 22nd, 2017. The people of Georgetown SC put out the welcome mat every year and turn the whole waterfront into the finest exhibition of beautiful boats that you will ever see. if you love boats you should see this show. Here is the link to the official site.
All That is Left -- is a pile of sand. I drove through Nags Head the evening of September 18th, 2017 and found nothing but an artificial berm of sand with a row of fences along the top between the first row of cottages and the sea. The dunes are gone. There is nothing natural about the seashore at Nags Head anymore. It is a manmade landscape. Pictures here and here.
A Trip to Bennett's Creek -- added to the North Again article.
Looks Like the End of October -- before the Dismal Swamp Canal is reopened. The Corps of Engineers reports that recent weather events have slowed progress. For more, see the article at Waterway Guide.
"Life is Like a Box of Chocolates" -- I had no expectation of riding a ferry on 9/14/17, but I found and rode one that I hadn't known existed - and got information on two more. The Parker's Ferry crosses the Meherrin River in northeast North Carolina. For more, see our sister website, Ferries, Freighters and Barge Tows.
Getting Back to Normal -- Tuesday afternoon, 9/12/17, all ferry routes are running except for the cross-sound routes.
Due to Irma -- As of the morning of Tuesday, 9/12/17, NCDOT reports the following ferry routes not running: Southport to Fort Fisher; Cherry Branch to Minnesott Beach; Cedar Island to Ocracoke; Swan Quarter to Ocracoke. The other routes are running, but this could change and anyone making plans to ride one should monitor the Ferry Division Twitter Feed.
New Addition to the Fleet -- I have added a sister website to Neuse River Sailors, Ferries, Freighters and Barge Tows. Mainly a photograph site. Submissions eagerly accepted.
Ferry Cancellations -- Saturday, 9/11/17, all cross-sound ferries are cancelled due to high winds and heavy seas. The latest information on ferry cancellations is available at the Ferry DivisionTwitter Feed.
Frisco is broken bad -- As of Friday 9/8/17 the Hatteras - Ocracoke ferry is on an "amended" schedule. Amended means less trips. M.V. Frisco, one of the boats that covers the route, has "mechanical issues". That means a trip to Mann's Harbor for repairs. See the press release at NCDOT. That's two down - Neuse River stalwart Thomas A. Baum is ailing as well. A replacement is currently running on the Cherry Point - Minnesott route.
175? -- The morning of Tuesday 9/5/17 Weather Underground reports Irma as a Category 5 with winds of 175 knots and gusts to 215.
Irma's Course Slowly Starting to Resolve -- It's still a long way out at sea, but hurricane Irma is shaping up to be a serious potential threat to the southeastern United States. The latest guidance suggests landfall anywhere from Key West to Delaware, and even potential for the storm to thread the Florida Straits or cross Cuba and end up in the Gulf. Regularly updated Weather Underground maps and discussion here.
Novel Way to Flee Police -- A man in Surf City, stopped by police for a traffic violation, leapt into the sea and swam almost a mile out, pursued by a shark and a police department drone. Several agencies got involved in what turned into a rescue operation and he was finally caught and transported to the Pender County jail. Full story and video at the Port City Daily.
Like Chairs? -- The North Carolina History Center in New Bern has an exhibit of 75 ladder back chairs built in the Tar-Roanoke River region, mostly in the 1800s. The exhibit is free to the public and runs through September 17th, 2007. For more information, click here.
Back on Schedule -- As of the morning of 8/29/17 all ferries statewide are back on schedule.
Cherry Branch Ferry Cancelled -- The NC Ferry Division announced mid-afternoon 8/28/17 that all schedules on the Cherry Branch-Minnesott route are cancelled for the remainder of the day, due to high water. Late afternoon schedules Ocracoke to Hatteras are cancelled. Evening runs between Cedar Island and Ocracoke are cancelled due to inclement weather. Ferry Division will update tomorrow.
Tropical Storm Warning -- As of the morning of 8/28/17, the watch has been upgraded to a warning. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for most of the North Carolina coast. A Tropical Storm Warning means Tropical storm wind conditions are expected somewhere within this area and within the next 36 hours. The worst is expected to pass through early Tuesday morning through Tuesday afternoon.
Tropical Storm Watch -- has been posted for most of coastal North Carolina, effective 8/27/17. If 92L develops, sailors might have to act fast to secure their boats.
Keep an Eye on 92L -- As of Saturday 8/26/17 Harvey is the center of attention but the National Hurricane Center and Weather Underground are watching 92L, currently dumping rain on the west coast of Florida, but expected to cross over to the Atlantic side and track up the coast. By the middle of next week it could bring rain, onshore winds and coastal flooding to locations from Georgia to North Carolina.
Top Off Tanks -- Here in Winston-Salem gas prices are appreciably higher the evening of 8/25/17 than they were in the morning. With Harvey coming onshore and predicted to linger over the Texas coast, potential for shutdowns of Houston area refineries is high, and gas prices will probably climb. Worst case, supplies could be disrupted.
Category 3 -- Rapidly intensifying tropical storm Harvey is expected to be a category 3 hurricane when it slams into the Texas coast in a few days. Weather Underground has a good article posted mid-day 8/24/17.
2017 Wilmington Boat Show -- This annual event will be held the weekend of September 8th through 10th at locations along the waterfront in Wilmington, NC. Click here to go to the official site.
Harborfest for Heartworks -- The annual event benefiting the Heartworks organization that works with at-risk children in Pamlico County will be held the weekend of September 22nd through 24th at Riverdunes. For more information and to register, check out the Harborfest website.
Surf's Up -- Hurricane Gert remained far off the North Carolina coast but the waves made it to the Hatteras beaches. Local surfers caught some bitchin' rides. Text and pictures at Island Free Press.
Barden Inlet Shoaling -- The Coast Guard has removed Aids to Navigation through Barden Inlet due to extensive shoaling. See story at Coastal Review Online.
What's New, 8/11/17 -- Some new verbiage at the end of the "North Again" story.
Too Much Water -- It's been a wet summer for northeast NC with torrential downpours rolling through on a frequent basis. Nags Head and Kitty Hawk suffered major street flooding, and Edenton reported that 44,000 gallons of sewage overflowed into local creeks.
Come Back, Please -- As of late in the evening of 8/3/17, power has been restored to all Outer Banks locations, and the visitor curfew will be lifted at noon on 8/4/17. The local electric co-ops, along with the State of North Carolina, county personnel and yes, the contractor responsible for the original outage all worked round the clock for a solid week and deserve credit for the quick restoration. Remember that a few days ago there were concerns that power might be out for two weeks or more. Here is an update from Island Free Press.
Watch for Joseph -- Sailor Joseph Calland departed Beaufort NC heading outside to New York sometime late last week. A distress call was received Sunday the 30th, the Coast Guard responded but an extensive search turned up nothing. The 73 year old sailor and his 39 foot boat Nennette are now officially overdue for arrival in New York. The Coast Guard is asking that anyone with information call them at 757-398-6390. Story at Island Free Press.
Is This for Real? -- Ars Technica posted a story entitled Gruesome case of flesh-eating bacteria has beach city anxious, skeptical on 8/2/17, about a Lumberton woman currently undergoing treatment at UNC Medical Center for a very unpleasant ailment known a necrotizing faciitis, possibly contracted in Myrtle Beach.
Tropical Storm Emily -- expected to bring torrential rain to central Florida and then track well-offshore. As of the morning of 7/31/17 no threat expected to the North Carolina coast. Here is a link to Weather Underground's reporting on the storm.
Tentative Timeline - One to Two Weeks -- That's what Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative says Sunday, July 30, about when to expect full restoration of electricity to the Outer Banks. In the meantime, they hope to bring in more generators to provide temporary power, in the hopes that some visitors may be allowed in. The local economy is tourist-based, and the embargo on visitors is hurting. Island Free Press is on top of it.
2017 Beaufort Pirate Invasion -- will be held August 11th and 12th on the waterfront. For information, see the website. "It takes a village to pillage."
Mandatory Vistor Evacuation Expanded to Hatteras Island -- Late on Friday 7/28/17 Dare County issued a mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the island, effective the morning of 7/29. See the article at Island Free Press. No estimates yet as to when the transmission line will be fixed. Editor's note: The Island Free Press does its usual professional job of keeping us informed as this situation develops. Local news at its finest.
But That Means No Air Conditioners -- Fortunately, the brutal heat wave of a week ago has broken. Spokesperson Laura Ertle of Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, was quoted by the Island Free Press as saying "Today is going to be a better day. We still need people to conserve, but there is going to be more power available today...As long as people conserve, we may be able to have uninterrupted service. But that means no air conditioners." This after four more emergency generators arrived at Waves and Avon. No respite for Ocracoke, though.
Big Trouble -- "The N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division is assisting with the visitor evacuation of Ocracoke Island due to an anticipated long-term power outage. Hyde County Emergency Management issued a mandatory evacuation order for all island visitors beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 27." That's the word from the NC Ferry Division press release following the cascading series of incidents that may have Ocracoke on rotating power outages for the indefinite future. From the story at Ocracoke Current, it sounds like a contractor on the new Bonner Bridge drove a piling through the transmission line, severing power to everything south. Emergency generators were started, but the one in Ocracoke blew up, leaving the town without power. More generators are on the way, but they are too small to supply all the town's needs. Buxton, Hatteras and Frisco are all on emergency generators as well. The broken line could take days to weeks to repair.
Not Worth the Risk -- That's what Governor Roy Cooper told the crowd at Fort Macon State Park about oil drilling off the coast of North Carolina. “It’s clear that opening North Carolina’s coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities and for little potential gain for our state,” Cooper said. Coastal Review Online has a full report on the Governor's appearance.
Contact List for Albemarle Sound Marine Facilities -- A short list of contact information for marinas and car rentals on the Albemarle.
New for July 19th, 2017 -- Photographs from a July 2017 trip to check on the boat in Edenton. More to come...
...And Maybe Good News for Elizabeth City Drinkers -- A proposed microbrewery around the corner from my favorite Elizabeth City bar and internet cafe Coasters. Read about it at the Daily Advance. The craft beer craze has finally penetrated the back of beyond.
Bad News for Morning Drinkers -- The New Bern Board of Aldermen failed to pass the so-called "brunch bill", allowing Sunday morning alcohol sales. Oh, well, another good reason to breakfast at the marina.
Update on Dismal Swamp Canal -- Donna Stewart, Director of the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, sent me the following update on the Canal: "The Deep Creek Dredging has been completed and surveyed with the assistance of the Wilmington District. The Deep Creek Lock gates are scheduled to be reinstalled on Wed., July 19th. Dredging at the Feeder Ditch and Turner’s Cut will continue until work is completed". So at least we know that work is still going on and there is good reason to believe that the Canal will be open in time for the snowbirds heading south in the fall.
Cruise Ships Coming to Morehead City -- NC Ports sailing schedule for Morehead City lists two visits in October, Silver Explorer on October 1st, 2017 and Silver Muse on October 8th. Silver Muse was just commissioned earlier this year, and visits Morehead City as part of a 14 day trip from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale with layovers in several ports along the east coast.
New Island Forms off Cape Point -- A shell-collector's dream, a bar over a mile long and 300 yards wide has emerged just off Cape Point. The Park Rangers advise not trying to swim out to it, due to rip currents, five-foot sharks and enormous rays, but it is accessible by kayak or small boat. For more information and a great aerial photograph, see the article at Pilot Online.
Poet's Corner -- We all know that a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into, but Matthews Point sailor Eric Bigham has put this sentiment into less crass, more poetic terms with an ode to the financial realities of boat ownership.
The CCA NC Sportsman’s Conservation Legacy Shootout -- That was a mouthful. The Coastal Conservation Association will hold their annual sporting clays match at Drake Landing near Fuquay-Varina August 26th, 2017. As of June 30th, registration information has not been posted at their website, but it is promised soon. Update to follow.
Traditional Skiff Regatta -- August 5th, 2017 at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort. More information.
Change Coming to Oriental Harbor? -- The Town Dock reports on plans to develop a fishing trawler washing-sandblasting-painting operation at the roofless building just inside the harbor jetty.
Tour the Ferry Shipyard -- The NCDOT is offering tours of the Mann's Harbor Shipyard this summer in celebration of the 70th anniversary celebration of the ferry system. The tour scheduled for June 29th, 2017 may already be full, but there are still dates open in July, August and September. For more information, see the article NCDOT Ferry Shipyard Tours Available at the Ocracoke Current.
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