Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
It all started with an email from my Hobie-sailing friend Mark. "Looks like I have a boat almost ready. Just tying up some battens this evening and planning to leave by 8:00..."more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
Late September. What better time could there be for sailing? The brutal hot days of summer are over, the freezing rains of winter are yet to come. Of course, there are the equinoctal storms. While meteorologists and statisticians deny their existence, any old sailor will tell you to watch out around the equinox...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
When Taylor went to the masthead> of his Hunter 31 Never Enough by way of bucket lift, he found more work than he could do on the spot. In fact, on consideration, he decided that it would be best to yard the boat and have the mast out. Last winter he had the boat at Mackey's, but he decided this time to give the new yard in Belhaven, TJ's, a try...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
With a new Beta 20 replacement for the Atomic 4, it was time to go back to Edenton on the Albemarle. Taylor Ward, who crewed for me on the trip to Oriental, had stayed in touch and assured me of his interest in making the return trip. David Swanson, sometime writer for Neuse River Sailor, also expressed an interest. It was to my great benefit that I was able to make arrangements so both of them could come ...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
During the winter months of early 2020 I started making plans to sail from Edenton to Oriental for yard work at Sailcraft Service. ...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
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.
In a bad situation, all sorts of things can be stuffed into a hole in the boat to slow down the water - rags, a wad of tape, a monkey's fist, or even a potato or the shirt off your back. Anything that will start to fit and can be pounded in with a mallet (or a shoe, a frying pan, you get the idea). But the time-tested solution is a tapered plug made out of some kind of soft wood...more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
An avid Hobie sailor friend came home from a recent trip with the trampoline starting to pull out of the port extrusion. We had a look at it and determined that the stitching was giving way and the material was pulling away from the bolt rope. Since the starboard hull was leaking badly where the prior owner had patched it, this boat is out of commission for a while. In other words, a good time to pull the tramp off and restitch it....more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
Shallow Albemarle Sound has a reputation for developing a rough chop in bad weather, and bad weather is none too infrequent in northeastern North Carolina. On a hot day, air over the land warms and rises, sucking in cool, moist ocean air below it. This leads to atmospheric instability...more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
What's wrong with a conventional holding tank retention head aboard a sailboat?
It requires at least one, generally two, through hulls below the waterline, with their attendant seacocks and hoses. Through hulls are holes in the bottom of your boat. Seacocks should be maintained, or at least examined, annually, though few people do it. The seacocks and hoses leading from them are all that is holding the water back from flooding in and sinking your boat....more.
Article by Paul Clayton.
In 1978 the Luhrs family boat-building conglomerate that included Hunter, Luhrs and Silverton set up a new company, Mainship, to produce a John Cherubini designed 34 foot trawler. Eventually the family sold out, but the Mainship Corporation builds boat to this day...more.
Entry by Paul Clayton.
A boat that you can sail around the Oriental inner harbor. Designer Reuben Trane drew a whole line of small, shallow-draft boats that were built by a series of companies that drifted into existence, lived for a while and then passed into bankruptcy. The last known owner of the molds was Nimble Boat Works, maker of the celebrated Nimble Nomad trailerable cruiser...more.
Entry 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.
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, 2021 Paul M. Clayton
"Always Use Sta-bil" -- That's the advice my friend Pilot Dan, a certified FAA inspector and master at maintaining gasoline engines, gave me, and I religiously mixed it in with every tank of no-ethanol gasoline when I had the Atomic 4. Now that I have the Beta, I need some advice - should I run a diesel additive, and if so, what? Readers, what's your experience? Do you run an additive? Let me know at email@example.com.
Tricky Entrance... -- to Clubfoot Creek is a little trickier now that Marker 5 is missing its dayboard.
Dismal Swamp Canal Reopened -- After a short closure in late September due to an electrical issue at South Mills Lock, the canal reopened September 30th, 2021.
Must Be Getting Cold in New England -- Lately I am bombarded with email ads from West Marine urging me to buy winterizing products.
Tiller Versus Wheel -- "The strongest justification for a wheel is that it creates a prominent and authoritative-looking position for the fat bastard who pays the bills". I'm not going to reference this quote because it has been said so many times.
NOAA Weather Radio Coverage -- "You are listening to WNG537, broadcasting from Wakefield, VA, transmitting from a tower in Windsor, NC on frequency 162.525". For reference, here is a list of NWR stations, in order from Norfolk to Key West. Since more than one station can usually be picked up, this will help you zoom in on the one ahead, not the one behind. Anyone who has listened to the interminable tide listings and buoy reports only to find that the frequency provides local coverage for an area you passed through yesterday will understand.
Anybody Using Steel Rings -- for standing or running rigging? I'm thinking of seizing or shackling these to the stanchion bases of Terry Ann as fairleads for the jib furling line.
What's the Difference? -- Samson Trophy Braid is sold by Defender, West Marine, and other boating supply houses. From Samson's web site, "Trophy Braid is excellent for cruising sailors who want a rope with a soft hand. This line has a soft, fuzzy cover that is easy on the hands. This double braid construction has a spun polyester cover and a polyester core." In 3/8ths inch, the average strength is 3,000 pounds. Samson Stable Braid is sold by Gap Arborist Supply, Rigging Warehouse, Sheldon Hill and other supply houses catering to arborists, foresters and engineers. From Samson's web site, "Stable Braid has a braided core and cover, both contributing to its strength and firm hand, while remaining fully spliceable. It works very well on winch drums and has the non-rotational flexibility to be flaked on deck. Stable Braid is a proven, tough rope with excellent controlled working elongation." The minimum strength is 4,800 pounds. So the main advantage of Trophy Braid is the soft, fuzzy cover and the main advantage of the Stable Braid is the substantially greater strength. The other difference is that Trophy Braid is sold by boating supply houses to wealthy yachtsmen like you and me, while Stable Braid is sold to people doing hard manual labor to make a buck. Trophy Braid 3/8 inch line from Defender is $.89/foot, or $133.50 for 150 feet - plus Defender's hefty shipping fees. Stable Braid 3/8 inch from Gap Arborist is $85.49 for 150 feet, no shipping because it's over $49. Guess which one I bought? A hint - I have tough hands.
This is No Drill -- To our friends in Connecticut - we're thinking of you and sending energy. We know you are putting out your best bower anchor on plenty of rode, getting all the canvas off the masts, and doing everything you can to prepare. Hang on tight!
2021 Oriental Boat Show -- Cancelled last year due to Covid, the show is back, September 24-26, 2021. The organizers expect aroung 100 exhibitors at what they bill as the biggest in-water show between Annapolis and Savannah. For more information, click here.
New Boatyard in Belhaven -- My sailing partner Taylor turned up this new well-equipped yard recently and I drove down a few days ago for a look. The friendly owner explained that while they are not officially open yet, they are hauling boats for DIY and contract work. He added that they intend to add a marina adjacent to the yard.
A Self-Aware Fisherman -- owns this boat.
Hobie Cat on Lake Norman -- My friend Mark sent a shot of his Hobie 16 on a perfect day for sailing.
View From Mast Height -- Taylor took this picture looking out over Edenton Marina from the bucket lift while doing masthead work on his Hunter Never Enough..
A Lazy Afternoon... -- sailing a Sunfish in Pembroke Creek, Edenton.
You Can't Order from Paxton... -- so find somebody who can. Paxton Company is a distributor of marine supplies and carries just about every brand you could think of. Best, their trucks run up and down the southeast coast from Virginia to Florida, offering next day delivery on almost everything in their catalog. The only catch - they only sell to companies that can give them thousands of dollars worth of business in a year. But that includes practically all boatyards, many marinas and a good selection of marine supply stores. In the Edenton area I have ordered from Paxton through Mackey's and gotten great service, but it is an hour plus round trip across the river. Last time I visited Dixie Auto & Truck Parts in Edenton I noticed they had a sign stating they could order from Paxton. I checked with the clerk and he confirmed that they had a Paxton account and were glad to place orders. That will make it a lot easier getting boat parts in Chowan County.
By Way of Manteo -- We sailed Terry Ann from Oriental to Edenton by way of Manteo. The notorious Old House Channel and Roanoke Sound proved not troublesome on a day of good visibility and light easterly airs. On the other hand, the Albemarle Sound lived up to its reputation. We suffered a knockdown in a line squall and had to motor on to Edenton with a broken spreader. Story to come.
Ocrafolk 2021 -- I'm sure there will be a big contingent from Matthews Point for the annual festival June 4th through 6th. For information and tickets, click here.
Manteo Improvements -- Coastal Review reports that dredging in Shallowbag Bay and the adjoining channel has been completed, allowing the replica ship Elizabeth II to be moved from its permanent dock on the Manteo waterfront to Wanchese for haul-out. This bodes well for our plans to sail Terry Ann home from Oriental to Edenton by way of Manteo.
Alternate Route -- Cruisers Net reports April 21st, 2021 that the Dismal Swamp Canal is open, all bridges and locks operating on schedule, and no duckweed. I must add that there was an unfortunate police shooting in Elizabeth City recently and transients might want to avoid the town until things settle down. Sorry to have to report that about one of my favorite cruising towns and I wish nothing but the best for the people of the area.
It Finally Happened -- For years, every time I crossed the Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet, I hoped it was for the last time. The rickety old bridge always seemed in eminent danger of collapsing into the sea. Fortunately, the State, after years of procrastination, built a replacement that opened in 2019. Yesterday, April 14th, 2021, a section of the old bridge that was being dismantled collapsed, falling 110 feet and killing one worker. It is sobering to think that this old bridge remained in operation so many years after it should have been replaced, and tragic that a man lost his life in the last stage of tearing the old structure down.
Retrenchment? -- Back in October 2019 I mentioned that NCDOT was exploring the possibility of building a new ferry dock on Ocracoke near the pony pens and abandoning the current dock at the north end of the island. That idea has resurfaced periodically. An article dated 4/7/21 at Island Free Press has this to say: "The proposed new ferry terminal...would be located 6 miles north of the village and one mile south of the Pony Pens...Under the proposal, if the old terminal is decommissioned, all N.C. 12 pavement and structures between the new and old terminals would be removed".
Cedar Island and Swan Quarter -- ferries are suspended until April 12th due to shoaling in the channel just outside Siver Lake. The Corps of Engineers is still dredging, but things are just getting worse. The Ferry Division will re-assess Monday and try to project when service can resume.
Maybe by Summer -- The Bath State Dock (the free dock) just below the fixed bridge on Bath Creek was damaged by hurricane Isaias and has been closed since. Neuse River sailor David Swanson inquired with the operator recently and got this in reply: "We are awaiting materials for repairs and anticipate reopening the dock by this summer. Please check back with us in May for an update!"
Anyone with a Boat to Rent? -- A Neuse River Sailors contributor sent me this email: "I am looking to rent a small (approximately 25-30') cabin cruiser or houseboat for a couple of weeks May and/or June, to go from the Beaufort area up to the Albemarle and back. If you know of anyone with a dormant craft who might be interested in such an arrangement, I would be grateful to learning about him or her or them . . ." If anyone has an interest, email me at the address at the bottom of this page and I will put you in contact.
New Life for Pamlico -- Built in 1965 at the New Bern Shipyard, Pamlico served the NC Ferry Division until 2015, when she was sold to Cross Sound Ferry Services of Connecticut. There she saw a thorough renovation, was renamed the Jennifer C, and currently runs between New London, CT and Orient Point on Long Island.
Not Enough Water in Bigfoot Slough...-- for the Swan Quarter and Sea Level, which draw 7 1/2 feet, so for at least the week of March 26-30 the cross-sound routes between Cedar Island, Swan Quarter and Ocracoke are on short schedules of one boat in each direction. A dredge is working in the Slough.
Beta Red -- I'm having a new Beta 20 installed in Terry Ann. The engine is in the boat but not hooked up yet. Here's a picture.
A Hard Reckoning -- The New York Times published an article on March 14th, 2021 entitled "Tiny Town, Big Decision: What Are We Willing to Pay to Fight the Rising Sea?" about the town of Avon on the Outer Banks.
Pilot Dan -- Edenton sailor, OBX pilot and friend Dan White died February 18th, 2021 after a short illness. He loved his boat Moriah and lived aboard almost to the end. He was generous to a fault. One of his greatest pleasures was to welcome fellow sailors at the Edenton Marina aboard his boat for five o'clock libations and conversation. We'll miss him.
Another Option -- If nobody wants the marine head, friend and fellow Neuse River sailor David Swanson sent this proposal for reuse. I'm thinking a local sculpture garden might like to have it to pair with a Mannekin Pis statue. Send your ideas and I will post them here. The best one gets a prize - a lightly-used marine head.
Before I Send Them to the Dump -- Free to someone who can use them - I have the marine head that came out of Terry Ann when I put in the composter, as well as a Whale Gusher Mk3. The head looks fine, I couldn't see any cracks, but the pump will probably need to be rebuilt or replaced. The Whale Gusher is in what I take to be typical shape, with a torn diaphragm and much corrosion. From what I see on the internet, these are not worth rebuilding, but you might think differently. If you want either or both, contact me at the email address at the bottom of the page, and we can make arrangements to pass them off somewhere in eastern North Carolina when I am down that way on my boat.
Bridge Closure Update -- Cruisers Net reports on November 1, 2020 that the railroad bridge at AICW mile 5.8 has been repaired and is now open. But for a few days expect more frequent than usual closings for trains to pass as they clear up their backlog due to the closure.
Bridge Closure -- Dale on Hi Flite in Portsmouth reports that on October 29th 2020, "we listen[ed] to radio traffic with several tugs rushing to recover a barge that broke loose and hit a bridge. The railroad drawbridge is damaged and will be out of order until further notice." I'll update when I get more information.
Old Canal - Word from the Original Correspondent -- He and friends navigated from Marshallberg to Oriental on a Simmons Sea Skiff by way of Salter's Creek, Long Bay, Old Canal and Turnagain Bay. Didn't know there was a navigable cut between Salter's Creek and Long Bay? Neither did I, but it is clearly marked on charts 11544 and 11545. There is a 45 foot bridge at the Nelson Bay end, and the whole thing is undoubtedly very shallow, but it looks like a real adventure in a skiff, dinghy, kayak, or shoal draft sailboat.
Latest on Old Canal -- Here's a report from regular contributor David Swanson, from late October 2020. "I spent Saturday going through the Old Canal off Turnagain Bay, and through the Thouroughfare Canal between West Bay & Thouroughfare Bay. I saw a minimum depth of 5.7 feet on the former, that at either end. Lowest I saw on the latter canal was 5.2 feet. For reference, the water gages at Oriental and Hoboken were +0.5 feet or less (Cedar Island gage not working). Oddly the Cedar Island bridge showed only 43 feet clearance vs. a charted 45 feet." That should be encouraging to anyone considering the transit. Even Terry Ann could make it through. Don't worry, I'm not going to try it.
Another Good Ride -- I rode Greyhound from New Bern to Edenton to pick up my car the evening of 10/19/20. Friends drove me from Oriental to New Bern, where I embarked at 5:10 in the evening, arriving in Edenton three hours later after an uneventful trip. For sailors moving from port to port along the eastern seaboard, Greyhound is a real asset.
Try Here First -- Right on the corner, in view of the town docks of Oriental, is the Inland Waterway Provision Company. People who have been around this area know it has had its ups and downs over the years - these days it is in a distinctly up phase. The current management sees to it that a well-considered variety of marine supplies are on hand, plus sundries like beer, bread and ice. I needed electrical fasteners, couldn't find them at the West Marine. My friend Steve, outfitting his Cape George, clued me in that the Provision Company had a good selection, and I found what I needed there. When the yard and West Marine couldn't provide a fairly standard shaft-mounted zinc, I found a whole range of sizes available at the Provision Company, including one that fit perfectly on my boat. When I realized that my flares were expired, I walked straight to the Provision Company and bought a set with dates way out in the future. And finally, when I needed a bus ticket printed to get me back to Edenton, they graciously printed it for me from an emailed pdf.
A Familiar Morgan 382 -- I found John and Kathy's Ching Ching, now Jessica, on the dock at Deaton's, fitting out for a trip south this winter.
Oil is Not Supposed to Look Like This -- Routinely checking the oil before a planned departure for Belhaven, I found a gray, foamy sludge in place of the translucent amber fluid that was there yesterday. An abrupt and massive crankcase contamination put an end to plans to head for home. Sailcraft no longer does mechanical work on inboard engines, so I called Deaton's. The owner, John Deaton, came to the town dock, checked out the engine and suggested that I have the boat towed to his yard for work. Best case - the seal on the back of the water pump failed. Worst case - cracked engine block. It will be at least a couple of weeks until the crew at Deaton's can work on it, so my plans are to return home for the time being.
At the Town Dock -- The boat went in the water yesterday, the 13th, and today I moved it to the new town dock after sailing around outside the breakwater to check out the roller furler gear. There were two boats on the old dock when I came in, but they departed mid-morning. It is quiet today, except for hundreds of raucous, squabbling sea gulls. The closest thing to excitement was when Nimble Bay Hen Webster made a pass through the inner harbor and then disappeared back out toward the anchorage.
Another Report -- NC boatbuilder and sailor Bruce Mierke reports anchoring in Turnagain Bay and rowing his dinghy through the canal. The water was high at the time. His 6 1/2 foot oar never touched bottom. By his estimation, the canal might carry as much as 4 1/2 feet at normal water levels.
Turnagain Bay Report -- Avid explorer of the bays and creeks of the Pamlico Sound and sometime contributer to this site David Swanson reports transiting Turnagain Bay and the old canal 2 1/2 years ago and finding over 3 1/2 feet of water in the canal. The entrance to the bay presented no difficulties.
Turnagain Bay and the Old Canal -- I got an inquiry regarding the navigability of Turnagain Bay and the old canal to Long Bay. Have any readers transited it lately? I'd be interested to hear from you, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rudder Repairs -- Fabrication of a rudder shoe and fiberglass reinforcement of the rudder blade have kept me in the yard far longer than I expected. As of Friday, 10/9/20, the boat is still on the hard at Sailcraft Service. We hope to put her back in the water next Tuesday, and then the rigger will need a day or two to install the jib roller. So I will be in the neighborhood for a few more days - any friends in the area, come visit.
A Classic in for Major Refit -- A Cape George 38 has to be on the short list for desirable heavy displacement, full keel boats. I have heard it referred to as a wooden boat with a fiberglass hull. Steve purchased his used in 2019 and brought it in to Sailcraft for a four-month refit. Suffice it to say it is still here, as he uncovers rot, rot and more rot. But he is a competent woodworker and the boat will someday be back to bristol. To see some of the work he has done, check out his website, Teal Water.
Harborfest for Heartworks - Digital Edition -- The need is just as great, even if we can't have a party this year. Heartworks is a local non-profit based in Bayboro which serves the mental and physical health needs of local children and their families. For several years Harborfest has been held in September at River Dunes to raise money for Heartworks. This year, with Covid, it's not possible to have the party, but the auction goes on. See the Harborfest Website for how to bid, buy, and help the children.
Not Much Running -- As of 3:30 in the afternoon of 9/21/20, the only ferry routes in operation were Fort Fischer and Knotts Island. All other routes closed. Highway 12 is closed on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
Alligator River Marina -- We approached last week late in the day with intentions to go in for fuel and perhaps transient dockage. Got no reply on VHF. From the channel the marina appeard closed, but we hoped to get on the dock for a minute and buy gas at the highway pump. Ran aground just inside breakwater and spent two hours getting free. Today, 9/21/20, I called and confirmed that they are open, but "call ahead about depth of entry channel". Alligator River Marina, 252-796-0333.
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