Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
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.
Christmas festivities were over and I didn't have anything pressing to do at home so I decided to make a short trip to Edenton to do some boat maintenance and take care of a couple of nagging problems that needed addressing. First, the Atomic 4 needed winterizing. It wasn't a huge deal, because the water was still warm at the coast, and the old engines will take a bit of freezing regardless - but with that done, I wouldn't have to worry about running down to the coast in case a protracted period of bitter cold was forecast. Second, when I left Edenton after returning from Florida in mid-month, the cutless bearing was dripping. Not much, and certainly not so much as to threaten the capacity of Terry Ann's enormous bilge, but nevertheless...more.
Story by Paul Clayton.
It was an unusually blustery and stormy start to fall in 2018. First, hurricane Florence devastated the southeastern part of the state and brought high winds and water to the northeast. I sat out the storm aboard Terry Ann on the dock at Edenton Marina, eight lines to windward and six to lee. It was a wild and bouncy night as winds gusted to 40 knots or a little more...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.
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.
I received the following email from a reader -
We are thinking of moving our home base north, though not necessarily as far as you...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
Cruising Convention -- Boats from Holland, Annapolis, Quebec and Edenton gathered on the Oriental dock to exchange yarns in early June 2019. The weather was foul and everybody was happy to spend some time in this welcoming harbor.
Oriental Marina and Inn -- adjacent to the town dock is a great resource. They sell ice - crushed and block - gasoline and diesel. They also have a coin-op laundry. The Provision Company nearby stocks bread and beer and not much else. For anything else, you have to hike out to the Piglet - local name for the small Piggly Wiggly grocery store about a mile down the road.
Ocracoke and Oriental -- Charrua II made it across the sound to Ocracoke and tied up on the NPS dock. Terry Ann made a good run to Oriental, sailing and motorsailing, and waited out an intense rainstorm hove to off Oriental marker 1 before entering the channel. I got the last spot on the town dock and will stay there until Monday, when I hope to get into a yard to have a halyard reeved.
Waiting out Weather in Belhaven -- We sailed in to Belhaven from an anchorage on the Alligator river on 6/5/19 and are waiting out a small craft advisory on the Pamlico before proceeding. Charrua II will go onward tomorrow for Ocracoke and Terry Ann may accompany her or may go to Oriental to get one of the yards to drop a halyard over the mast-top. We hope to get back together in a few days to make the run north through the sound to Engelhard and Manteo. From there, Paul and Kathy will return to Urbanna and I will head back to Edenton. That's the plan, subject to change.
On the Columbia Town Dock -- It's 6/3/19. Terry Ann and Paul Clarke's boat Charrua II made a tempestuous passage from Edenton and tied up about 3:15. A combination of motoring, sailing and motor-sailing, with lots of tacking into a typical sloppy Albemarle chop. Winds were around 15 knots out of the northeast, but small craft advisory conditions down around the Alligator River and Manteo had the water churned up.
Update on Matthews Point Channel Markers -- As of 5/31/19 the channel markers leading from Clubfoot Creek in to the marina are all back on station except for the center red marker which was damaged and has been temporarily removed. Boaters should now be able to follow the markers and have safe access to the marina and Mitchell Creek. Thanks Dockmaster Tom and Feather Jim for handling this job.
In Praise of Small-Town Libraries -- Edenton has a comfortable library on the waterfront, just a few steps from the town dock. There is free wi-fi with plenty of tables and outlets to plug in laptops, and there are several computers available for guests to use. The gracious librarians are helpful and knowledgeable, and will always find a quiet place for the traveler to work, no matter how busy and hectic the library may be. Hertford, Elizabeth City and Belhaven also have good libraries that welcome transient sailors.
Crossroads of Northeastern NC -- I spent the afternoon of 5/29/19 aboard friend Paul Clarke's big pilothouse schooner at the Elizabeth City dock, whiling away the time with him and crew Kathy over cold Pabst Blue Ribbons. It's been three years since I first met them at this same dock when I sailed Valor from Matthews Point to the Albemarle. Paul and Kathy will sail into Edenton to attend a wedding and then if all goes right we will take both boats for a cruise, destination unknown.
Pacific Northwest Small Boat Sailing -- Joel Bergen sails his 15 foot John Welsford Navigator yawl in the bays and sounds of Washington State. He has a great website about his travels at Joel's Navigator Site.
Calypso Logs Another Season in the Bahamas -- Jeff and Wendy Gower aboard their Westsail 32 Calypso are back in the States after another tour of the Bahamas. I have crossed paths with them several times and once got a tour of their beautiful boat. They have an up-to-date, well-written and photographed website, worth a look - Log of Calypso.
In Every Little Creek and Bay -- around the Pamlico and Chesapeake is where Steve Earley has been aboard his wooden, engineless, 17 and a half foot yawl Spartina. The little boat can go into the shoal places the rest of us cannot, and is still rugged and seaworthy enough to brave the open water. Check it out - The Log of Spartina.
What's It Like to Sail the Virgin Islands -- in a Cape Dory 36? John Stone's Wordpress site, Far Reach Voyages, details his several trips to the Virgin Islands aboard his immaculate, seaworthy, one-of-a-kind CD36. He rebuilt Far Reach into the perfect boat for his kind of sailing over a period of six years. His kind of sailing doesn't involve an engine - he's a sailor, not a motorboater. John has a second website with a wealth of information about the work that went into turning Far Reach from a worn-out but solid CD36 into an ocean cruiser and island hopper that is in a class of its own.
"Coming to the City by Small Boat" -- Check out my friend Charlie Langworthy's blog, Cruise of the White Seal. His post for May 20th, 2019, describes entering New York Harbor at dawn after a 24 hour run from Cape May.
Link Site -- A young reader sent this link to a link page. It's at a commercial site, but there are some good links there, a few that I hadn't seen before. Thanks, Lucas!
Convenient Resupply -- Sailors transiting the Dismal Swamp Canal can find a free public dock just south of the Deep Creek Bridge, on the east side of the canal. Across the street is a shopping center with a grocery store, auto parts store and several restaurants. The old two-lane drawbridge at Deep Creek is scheduled to be replaced with a five-lane draw, in hopes of relieving the horrendous traffic congestion that keeps the town tied up in knots. Work should start in September 2019 and be complete in 2022. Hopefully the public dockage will be preserved. There is additional free dockage available on the west side of the canal, just south of the lock.
USGS Proposing to Remove Markers in Back Sound? -- This Facebook post states that the USGS is considering removing the remaining markers connecting Barden's Inlet and Back Sound (markers 19-35). Markers 18 and lower were removed several years ago. This would leave no marked channel into the Cape Lookout Bight from the north. The channel has been marginally navigable for many years. This would essentially mean its abandonment.
Beast Feast -- The annual celebration of the fruits of the rod, gun and net will be held at Matthews Point on May 25th, 2019. This event is open to slip and site holders of the marina and their guests. If you are not a slip or site holder, beg, bribe or blackmail a friend to bring you as a guest - this is always a great party.
Matthews Point Channel Markers -- On 4/14/19 Dockmaster Tom at Matthews Point Marina reports two markers are off station in the channel leading from Clubfoot Creek to the marina and Mitchell Creek. The middle red and green channel markers were pushed close to shore by one of last year's hurricanes. However the paired red and green markers at the ends of the channel are correct and boaters can use those for navigation. The channel is a straight shot so just turn in from Clubfoot Creek at the first set and aim for the last set in front of the marina entrance. The Wildlife Commission has been notified and will get the markers back on station in due time, and when they do we will post a follow-up here.
45th Annual Wooden Boat Show -- The NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort will hold its annual wooden boat show May 4th, 2019.
Sunken Barge in Neuse River -- USGS reports a sunken barge about a mile north of the mouth of the South River - "NORTH CAROLINA – NEUSE RIVER TO MYRTLE GROVE SOUND (CHART 11541). THE COAST GUARD HAS RECEIVED A REPORT OF A SUNKEN BARGE IN THE SOUTH RIVER, IN POSITION 35-00.231N 076-35.017W (35°0.2310N / 076°35.0170W, 35.003850 / -76.583617) . THE BARGE HAS 02 SPUDS ABOVE THE WATERLINE AND MAY HAVE TUGS WORKING IN THE AREA. ALL MARINERS ARE REQUESTED TO TRANSIT THE AREA WITH CAUTION". See Cruisers Net NC LNM section for a chart. Thanks for the heads-up, David.
Dismal Swamp Canal Dredging -- Coastal Review Online reports dredging will be performed on the Dismal Swamp Canal from mid March into April 2019. See the article here.
Pleasant Surprise in the Mail -- With Terry Ann's documentation expiring in January, I made application for renewal in late December. The government promptly shut down, and with it the web page that verifies pending applications. What happened to my, and many other sailors', documentation requests? Would they be processed during the closure, after the government closure ended, or would we have to reapply? I contacted Senator Burr's office and got a promise from a staff member that she would look into the matter and get back to me. As yet, I have heard nothing. (Burr has long had a reputation as a friend of the boating fraternity and a conscientious provider of constituent services. Has that changed?) So after a month of fog and missing markers, it was a relief to open my mailbox yesterday, 1/23/19, and find a missive from the USCG, my renewed documentation. This is just one data point, but it suggests that the USCG is still processing documentation requests as of late January. Has anyone else has interaction with the Coast Guard this month? Applied for paperwork, been boarded, attempted to report missing or off station markers? I'd be very interested to hear - firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh yes, if I hear anything from Senator Burr's office I will pass it along.
Need a Diver on Long Island Sound? -- Clean Marine Yacht Services on the Long Island North Shore provides bottom cleaning as well as topsides waxing and detailing. Check out the website for a complete list of services, and to read about the owner's renovation work on his own boat.
No Firewall? -- Financial Times has a new non-firewalled section called Next Act designed for geriatric investors. I found an article of interest there, I quit the rat race to deliver yachts around the world. Well worth the read.
Is the USCG Making Safety/Documentation Checks? -- Has anybody been boarded lately? My documentation is running out soon. Renewal has been applied for, but whether it has been processed is unknown. The Coast Guard website that verifies application has been made is down due to the government closure. And as far as that closure goes, the House and Senate need to get together on the bill they agreed on earlier and send it to the President for signature. Senate leader McConnell says he won't send anything up until he knows the President will sign it. That's lame, Mitch, it's time to send up a bill and see what happens. If it gets vetoed, try to override it, or get working on a new bill. But don't just sit on your hands.
Making an Investment in Edenton -- Kellogg Supply completely razed their old facility and built a big new store and lumber yard in the same location, just a half-mile from Edenton Marina. I have visited several times and been impressed by the selection and by the helpfulness of the staff. They have a better variety of standard hardware items like nuts and bolts, adhesives, brushes and such than you would find in a big-box store, plus any tools you would need for boat maintenance. The other hardware store, Bynum's downtown, is more of a home decorator's boutique, though they will surprise you with their hardware selection sometimes.
A New Personal Best! -- Only four hours to get the Atomic 4 to start and spit! And get this, it only took one of those hours to replace the impeller! Wow, I'm getting to be a first-class Atomic 4 mechanic! At last!
A Young Reader -- suggested a link to this page of sailing knots. Thanks, Adam!
Rivers Edge Marina -- We tied up at the end of a trip south at Rivers Edge Marina on the San Sebastian River in St. Augustine, FL. It's a well-protected, clean place with all amenities and a friendly, helpful staff, located within bicycle or walking distance of downtown. Rate sheet attached.
Marker 86 at Hell Gate, GA -- was destroyed with just wreckage visible in water when we transited at low tide 12/7/18. We saw water under 5 feet but slipped through with our 2.5 foot draft.
Arrived St. Augustine -- aboard Witness 35 catamaran Oryoki the afternoon of 12/10/18 after a 14 day slog down the Albemarle Sound and ICW.
Back in Trinidad -- Cori and Dale are back aboard Hi Flite, ready for, in Dale's words, another winter of "wandering aimlessly about the Caribbean".
Two More New Ferries on the Way -- With two boats already under construction, the NCDOT Ferry Division has awarded a contract for two more, to be delivered in 2020. Add in the pedestrian boats planned for the Hatteras-Ocracoke route, and the Ferry Division is finally getting some much needed capital investment. See the article at Island Free Press.
Crewing Coastal Southeast? -- Crews can use the Greyhound coastal schedule to pick up a boat or return with with stops in Norfolk, Elizabeth City, Edenton, Greenville, Washington, New Bern, Jacksonville, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville. For points to the north or south, check out the easy to use Greyhound Website.
Careful, Buffet Fans - Your Age is Showing -- Geriatric fans of Jimmy Buffet now have their own Florida gated community. Latitude Margaritaville is a "55 and better" community opening soon near Daytona Beach. The developer hopes to spot Buffet-themed developments all over the Sunshine State. Read more at this longform article published by the New York Times, "The Future of Aging Just Might be in Margaritaville".
Fully Operational -- Oriental got slammed by Florence, but as of 11/17/18 Sailcraft Service reports that they are "fully operational". Good to hear that my favorite boatyard is back in business.
Thanks, Towndock -- for bringing this to my attention. "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester. For a list of pithy sailor sayings, The Sea Gives Good Quote.
Auction to Benefit Heartworks -- The annual Harborfest for Heartworks got cancelled due to Florence, so the agency is having an on-line auction to raise money for their programs. Supporters of this wonderful group that is run by Matthews Point friends Karen and Laurie can join in at 2018 Online Auction for Heartworks. But hurry - the auction ends Monday, November 5th at 7:00 pm.
Migration in Full Stride -- Thursday, 10/25/18 - A southbound friend reports "Followed a long trail of boats today from Eastham Creek to Oriental - the harbor is full and they are anchored all over the place."
News Travels Fast -- Friday, 10/19/18 - I sailed into Edenton Marina last night, and this morning ran into a couple of sailors on the dock. I mentioned that I had been in Elizabeth City to visit with David Swanson aboard his Stone Horse, and they told me they had heard there was a Stone Horse on the dock there.
Awaiting Fair Winds -- Wednesday, 10/17/18 - I'm on Mariners Wharf in Elizabeth City waiting for an opportunity to sail back to Edenton. Small Craft Advisory for northerlies tomorrow. David Swanson is here as well, aboard his newly-purchased Stone Horse.
There Are No Dunes in This Picture -- The article at Island Free Press is headlined - "Ferry Delays Expected During Repairs to Ocracoke's Dunes". There are no dunes between Highway 12 and the Atlantic on the north end of Ocracoke Island, and there haven't been any for years. The repairs are to an artificial sand berm, not dunes. OK, end rant.
Reports From Around the State -- As of Friday morning, 10/12/18 - NC Ferry Division reports all routes operating on regular schedules. Town Dock reports the power is out in Oriental, no estimates of when it will be restored. Also from Town Dock, Cherry Point recorded a gust of 67 mph Thursday night. And Island Free Press reports "significant soundside flooding", mostly on the northern banks.
All Clear -- It's the morning of Friday, 10/12/18. The remnants of Michael are somewhere far off the the northeast and the skies over Edenton are a cloudless blue. The brunt of the storm passed to our west yesterday evening, with winds from the south until about 7:30, then a lull and winds from the northwest kicking in around 10:00. By midnight it had settled in to a steady 15-20 knot breeze, and by morning the airs were light. Maximum gusts were in the vicinity of 40 knots, maybe a little more, and rain was heavy at times. All the boats in Edenton Marina rode it out with few problems - mainly, damaged canvas that the owners negligently failed to take in.
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