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.
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.
Article by Paul Clayton.
With a few minutes of spare time at the end of a day in the woodshop, Joe and I decided to make a few swig blocks. I first saw mention of swig blocks in Hervey Garrett Smith's endlessly fascinating book The Arts of the Sailor. Smith defined the swig block as "a snatch block without a sheave"...more.
Article 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 Paul M. Clayton
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...
Georgetown Wooden Boat Show -- The annual show will be held the weekend of October 19-20, 2019. More here.
Amazing Work! -- I know I said I would stop posting all the Outer Banks news, but this is too good to pass up. Highway 12 was flooded Friday morning, 10/11/19, at Mirlo Beach. NCDOT crews worked all day but were not able to reopen the road by the time of evening high tide. Urgent traffic that needed to get off the island was allowed to take the last boat from Hatteras to Silver Lake and transfer straight onto the ferry to Swan Quarter. Today, 10/12/19, the NCDOT started work as soon as the morning tide receded and feverishly worked all day, getting the road open just before sunset. A line of traffic over a mile long then started gingerly negotiating the wet, sandy road. The hopes are that everyone can get through before tonight's high tide floods the road again. Then the NCDOT can get to work tomorrow and maybe staunch the flow of water as sub-tropical storm Melinda recedes into the distance. No weekend for the dedicated crews. Here's a capture from the TIMS webcam at Mirlo Beach, 6:45 pm, 10/12/19.
Alligator River Bridge -- Heard a rumor the morning of 10/12/19 that the Alligator River Bridge is opening to marine traffic. **Update** - I confirmed with the USCG that the bridge is back to normal operation.
Flooding - Road Closures -- Island Free Press is providing frequent updates on the situation on the Outer Banks. Friday, 10/11/19, Oceanside flooding reported in Rodanthe, Avon, and North Buxton with Friday Morning’s High Tide. I'll lay off the Outer Banks news, you know where to look if you are interested.
Overwash at Mirlo Beach -- I drove down the Banks from Manteo to Waves the day of 10/09/19 and the road was relatively dry and sand-free. Things went downhill overnight. Coastal Review Online posted a story 10/10/19, Storm Causes Overwash on NC 12, with pictures of water gushing over the "dune", actually sand berm, between the beach and the highway.
Spoke to Another Southbounder -- who was unaware that he could bypass the Mann's Harbor Bridge and reach the Pamlico Sound by way of Manteo and the 65 foot Washingon Baum Bridge.
Alligator River Bridge May Go to Scheduled Openings -- As of 10/10/19 the bridge is still not able to be opened for marine traffic, and even once it is the days of open on demand may be over. The mechanism is frail and the state may need to reduce the frequency of openings, hence no more open on demand. See article at OBXToday.
Request for Individual Assistance Denied -- FEMA has denied the state's request for assistance for individuals who suffered losses in Dorian. See article at Island Free Press.
Long Way Around -- With Ocracoke still closed to visitors, the ferries are not boarding anyone other than residents and property owners, contractors and volunteers registered with Hyde County. That means that Harry from Buxton cannot just take the Hatteras ferry to Ocracoke, transfer to the ferry to Cedar Island and drive 5 miles to visit his elderly Aunt Minnie in Sealevel. No, Harry must drive north to Manteo, west to Belhaven, south to Bayview, cross the river by ferry, continue south to Minnesott, cross the other river by ferry, drive south to Morehead City, then north to Sealevel. 248 miles. I hope it's not an emergency.
Alligator River Bridge Not Opening -- It is Wednesday, October 9th, and the swing bridge has not opened for marine traffic since last Friday. There is a mechanical problem and no clear resolution in sight. Southbound traffic is backed up at the Alligator River Marina, although there are still a couple of open slips. I spoke to one sailor who saw the charted Croatan Sound route but knew that he couldn't get under the Mann's Harbor Bridge. However, he was completely unaware that he could continue east to Manteo, easily pass under the 65-foot Washington Baum bridge and then follow the Roanoke Sound and Old House Channel out into the Pamlico Sound. So southbounders, look at your charts. There are three routes south from the Albemarle - the Alligator River, the Croatan Sound, and the Roanoke Sound. No reason to spend a week waiting for the Alligator River bridge to open.
FEMA Request Processed -- October 4th the President signed the FEMA Request for Public Assistance for eastern NC counties, which will provide support for state and local agencies dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Dorian. A request for individual assistance is still under review, according to an article at Island Free Press. In other news, the Hatteras - Silver Lake ferry has been discontinued and the ferry is back to using the terminal at the north end of Ocracoke. Highway 12 is still broken and only light 4-wheel drive vehicle are allowed on the route. Still only emergency vehicles, residents and others certified by Hyde County as part of the recovery effort - no visitors. ****Latest News - Hatteras - Silver Lake ferry is back on after Ocracoke residents expressed concerns. See article at Ocracoke Current.
News Trickles Out -- Three weeks after Dorian, visitors are still banned from Ocracoke but at least some of the press are visiting. Recovery efforts are moving slowly as the NC National Guard and volunteers come to the aid of residents. Where's FEMA? Nobody knows. The eviscerated administration in Washington, D.C. is "processing the state's request for public assistance", according to Weather Underground, in a good piece of reporting dated September 30th, 2019.
Just the Ticket -- In the market for a handheld VHF, I turned up this little unit, a Cobra MR HH125. It's not real powerful, with lo/hi settings of 1 and 3 watts, but other than that it has all the standard features - jump to 16, weather, scan, squelch, volume control, NOAA alerts. It's very light and small, and it runs off five AAA batteries. It includes a charger that will allow the batts to be charged in situ from a cigarette lighter, or they can be charged on any external charger. I'm not a fan of lithium batteries which always seem to go dead at inopportune times and require an A/C source to recharge. I would rather just carry a box of AAAs to swap in when needed. Since you're not buying an expensive lithium battery with the VHF, the price is right. I got mine for $50 shipped from Hodges Marine. To me, it looks like the perfect device for hailing bridges or marinas, setting up passes and other routine demands, or to serve as a backup to a more powerful unit.
Visitors from the South -- Manatees showed up at the Outer Banks in September, making an unusual appearance this far north. The News & Observer posted an article September 22nd, 2019, with a picture of a pair in the Nags Head Coast Guard basin.
Looks Serious -- One of the runaway barges on the San Jacinto River near Houston crashed into a piling on the I-10 bridge during the high water from Imelda. The road will be closed indefinitely. Two barges are jammed under the bridge, seven more either got corralled downstream or ran aground, one of them in a superfund site known as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits. Ain't heavy industry grand? I have to admit, Terry Ann and I bounced off a fender under the Highway 32/37 bridge on Albemarle Sound back in June. No fenders in evidence in the picture at Weather Underground, so I'm guessing the barges were outside of the channel. This is the second time this year that the bridge has been closed. February 12th, 2019 a barge hit a pillar and various lanes were closed until May 6th, as reported by Click2Houston.com.
High Water on the Neuse -- The NC Ferry Cherry Branch Twitter Feed reports the morning of Thursday 9/19/19 that the Cherry Branch-Minnesott ferry is not running because the water is too high for the boats to get in under the ramps. The individual feeds for the various routes are the best place to get real-time information on the status of the routes.
NOAA Sat Photos of Banks -- Regular contributor David Swanson sent this link to a montage of photographs showing the Outer Banks after Dorian. If you zoom in, you can see all the overwash areas on the Core Banks. It shows clearly how the storm picked up sand from the seaward side and deposited it on the sound side. The overwash areas show as sharp, narrow indentations with wide fans of sand spewing out into the sound.
Ocracoke Report From News & Observer -- The press was allowed back in to Ocracoke as of 9/13/19 and the Raleigh paper got reporter Martha Quillin down there for a good feature article about Dorian and its aftermath.
Anchorage Foul -- Cape Lookout National Seashore Facebook page reports that Cape Lookout Bight "harbor filled with debris and is only marginally usable".
Can't Catch a Break -- The town of Ocracoke has put a great effort into developing their annual Pirate Jamboree, but according to Ocracoke Current, the October 2019 event has been cancelled due to damage from hurricane Dorian. This follows weather-related cancellations in 2011, 2012 and 2016.
A String of Pearls -- Dr. Stanley Riggs of ECU coined the term to describe his forecast for the future of the Outer Banks - and at least for the southern part, it appears to be coming to reality. Reports are that over 50 inlets cut through the lower banks from Portsmouth Island to Cape Lookout during hurricane Dorian. No doubt most will fill back in. To the north, rumor has it that over 200 people were helicoptered off Ocracoke after the storm. It is clear that the island is substantially damaged, but as of 9/11/19 there is next to no independent news coverage of conditions, just press releases from governmental bodies. I'd be happier if some of the reporters from the local and national press were allowed in to post reports.
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