Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
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.
Like most sailors who work for a living, the high point of my yearly sailing is a week-long vacation, usually in September when the weather starts to cool. This year (2016) I had to postpone my holiday by a week due to work issues. Throw in a near miss by the dissipating Tropical Storm Julia, and you can imagine how anxious I was to cast off and start sailing...more.
Story by David Swanson.
I left Raleigh about 9:00 AM Friday morning driving south. Dan and the Marian Claire were just south of Charleston and I was to meet him at the St. John’s Yacht Harbor early that afternoon to spend a few days on the water...more.
Story by Michael Doster.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a boat that, in a lifetime on the water, you may see just once or twice. Harold Glander built a keel/centerboard, shallow draft yawl out of fiberglass for himself in 1956, and in 1961 went into production of the Tavana, closely modeled on his own boat. Over the next 21 years, he produced a few hundred boats in kit form, to be completed by the purchaser, of several classes...more.
Entry 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.
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 Paul M. Clayton
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.
Half Model class -- "Students learn how to read plans and use basic wood working tools to shape a lift half-model of a NC Shad Boat. At the end of the weekend each student will take home a fully shaped model with a backer board ready for finish and proudly display on any office or living room wall. Cost - $110. Friends of the Museum in Beaufort Members - $99. Contact the Registrar at 252-504-7758 to register for the class". October 20th & 21st at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center on the waterfront in Beaufort, NC. Thanks, Tom.
Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree -- The annual Ocracoke event that hung fire due to hurricanes twice in two years earlier in the decade has gotten it's sea-legs and been expanded to four days for 2018, October 25th through 28th. Information at Ocracoke Current.
Forecast for Edenton -- Fast-moving Michael should come through Thursday evening and night and be gone by Friday, mid-morning. With winds predicted to gust up to 55 mph, this storm will be similar to what northeast North Carolina suffered from Florence. This time, though, the winds will be from the west and northwest, so I have been shifting doubled lines to those quadrants. Last time I had eight lines to windward, east and southeast, this time I have eight lines to windward, northwest to west. Five lines to lee. All canvas down and stored below deck.
Ferries Running -- As of the morning of Thursday 10/11/18 all ferry routes are running, though some on amended schedules as crews prepare to batten down for the remnants of Michael. Check the NC Ferry Division Twitter Feed for latest updates.
Everyone Ready? -- It's early in the morning on Wednesday, 10/10/2018, and category 4 hurricane Michael is getting close to landfall in panhandle Florida. Then it is forecast to rip across the southeast at increasing speed and give eastern NC a dose of tropical storm force winds Thursday and Friday. One more day to get canvas in and lines doubled, and to prepare for downed trees, power outages and blocked roads everywhere from Raleigh to the coast.
Another Storm on It's Way -- Tropical storm Michael is spinning up in the Gulf, with expected landfall in the Florida panhandle late Wednesday night. The forecast from Weather Underground is that the storm will be a Category 1 or 2 at landfall, and will maintain tropical storm force winds - 39 mph or higher - all the way across the southeast until it exits back into the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast as early as Friday morning.
Missing Boat -- Owner reports his Cape Dory 25 Madeline missing from anchorage off the Neuse River. See his flyer here. All Neuse River sailors, please keep an eye open for this boat. If you spot her, respond to the number on the flyer. Let's see if we can get this boat back to her owner.
Oriental Bridge Closed -- The approach from the county side is damaged and as of the morning of 9/21/18, the NCDOT has closed the bridge. Town Dock.
Morehead City Yacht Basin -- reports that they are up and fully operational as of 9/20/18.
Oriental has Power -- Town Dock reports that, as of the morning of 9/20/18, most of the town has electricity.
Cedar Island Ferry Back in Operation -- Ocracoke Current reports the Cedar Island Ferry ran one trip in each direction on Thursday and will run four boats in each direction Friday. Highway 12 is still cut on Ocracoke Island, so no Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries for now. The Cherry Point-Minnesott fery resumed on an amended schedule Wednesday, according to this NCDOT Press Release.
Aids to Navigation -- Cruisers' Net just (9/20/18) published this long list of damaged and off-station aids to navigation, as provided by the USCG. Thanks Neuse River Sailor David Swanson for bringing this to my attention.
The Situation Down East -- It's Thursday, 9/20/18, and I just got home after spending the day touring the upper part of the Pamlico and Neuse. Washington - got a lot of water, power is still out to the docks, but the free transient docks are open for business. Some downtown stores are still closed, others are open. The dockmaster told me he had driven down to Belhaven and that little town got severely hammered. He added that friends at Fairfield Harbor sustained major damage to their home. I drove south to Bridgeton Marina, it looked fine, no damage to boats or docks. Not sure power was on to the docks, but the clubhouse had power. The town of Bridgeton got a lot of water and the streets were lined with soaked furniture and tree limbs. The waterfront in New Bern got flooded, lots of damage on the streets near the convention center. The waterfront park lost a lot of trees and all the docks. The New Bern Grand Marina looked fine, no damaged boats and very light damage to the docks. Bridge Pointe though - the dock closest to the causeway came apart, fortunately it looks like there were no boats on it. The second dock sustained major damage - whole sections missing. Several sunken boats - completely submerged, just masts sticking out of the water - couple of boats with broken masts, boats with hull abrasions. The third dock mostly stayed together, but a couple of sections came apart. A power cruiser sunk to the bottom. Upstream - Kinston, Highway 70 is underwater, traffic being rerouted on a long detour using 55, 58 and Harvey Parkway. Westward - heavy traffic on 40/85 due to 95 closures, but nothing too bad.
Islanders Sending Aid to Mainland -- Ocracoke residents made the trip to mainland Cedar Island in their private boats to deliver water and other supplies to the cut-off residents. Click here for article.
Latest Ferry Updates -- As of Wednesday 9/19/18 morning, NC Ferry Division Twitter Feed reports Currituck running on schedule, Bayview-Aurora on schedule, Hatteras-Ocracoke not running, Swan Quarter on amended schedule, Cedar Island not running, Cherry Point-Minnesott not running, Fort Fisher on amended schedule.
Cruisers Net Special Report -- Correspondent Tom Hale reported valuable information to Cruisers Net on conditions from Hampton Roads to Charleston. Anyone considering passing through this area should check it out. Sounds as if the greatest damage is between Morehead City and Myrtle Beach.
Georgetown Wooden Boat Show 2018 -- Seems like Georgetown gets it's obligatory dose of fire, wind and flooding every year, and regardless the Wooden Boat Show goes on. Florence had some impact, but the main concern is river flooding coming from inland due to the massive amounts of rain upstate. As of now, the show is still on. It is scheduled for October 20-21, 2018, the third Saturday in the month. More information available at the website.
Looking for a Place to Lay Over? -- Services along the ICW in southern NC and SC are slowly being restored, but power is still out in Oriental and much of Morehead City. No doubt things are worse to the south. Early southbound snowbirds might want to consider laying over on the upper Albemarle Sound for a few weeks before moving on. The marinas at Columbia, Edenton and Mackeys Ferry are just one long day's sail from Coinjock. Rather than fighting the floating debris, missing markers and closed marinas between the Pamlico and Charleston, why not spend some time on the beautiful waters of the Albemarle? In a few weeks time, the people of the hurricane-effected areas will have had time to clean up and will welcome snowbirds back to their facilities.
Neuse River Bound? -- As of the morning of Monday, 9/17/18, Town Dock reports Highway 70 flooding in Goldsboro and Kinston. A reader had success taking 264 to Washington, then 17 south. Other news - Cherry Branch ferry not operating due to damage to ramps. Oriental has no electricity and no estimate as to when it will be restored.
Edenton Coffee House -- downtown on S. Broad Street conscientiously boarded up windows in preparation for Florence and then stayed open regular hours right through the storm, providing a gathering place for local residents and visitors and plenty of fresh, hot coffee. They kindly allowed me to nurse a cup of coffee and stay on their Wi-fi for hours each day so that I could keep up with the news and post to neuseriversailors.com.
Ocracoke Island -- Ocracoke Current reports residents and property owners allowed back Sunday 9/16/18, no visitors. As of 9/16, the only way in was the Swan Quarter ferry, no boats operating from Hatteras or Cedar Island. Boarding is first-come first-served with priority to emergency personnel, so no guarantees you will get on a boat. Check the NC Ferry Division Twitter Feed for latest updates.
Hatteras Island -- Island Free Press reports residents and property owners allowed back onto Hatteras Island Saturday 9/15 and visitors to be allowed Sunday 9/16/18.
Bock Marine -- reports as of 9/15/18, the yard weathered the storm with no problems, all boats are fine, but no power, telephone or internet, many trees down in the area.
Morehead City Yacht Basin -- Facebook page reports as of afternoon of 9/15/18 - marina is in good shape but power is out. The county is still under mandatory evacuation and curfew, so the marina will probably stay closed at least through the weekend.
Oriental -- Town Dock reports as of morning of 9/16/18 - water levels are down to around three feet high, still enough to cover Hodges Street. By following back roads, it is possible to get from New Bern to Oriental, but Highway 55 is closed between Oriental and Bayboro.
Sailcraft Service -- reports as of morning of 9/16/18 - water crested five feet deep in metal building and welding shop, some tools and equipment lost or damaged, power, internet and phone out. Updates to follow. I know the crew there, I'm sure they are working long hours getting the yard back in shape to accept customers. Thanks Sailcraft Service for giving us an honest appraisal of the situation.
No Problems Here -- My neighbors Tom and Ann, owners of the Tartan across the dock, came down to check up on things the morning after the storm and took this picture of me aboard Terry Ann.
Portside Marina -- As of 11:00 AM Saturday September 15th 2018 I got through to the dockmaster at Portside Marina in Morehead City. They are pumping diesel from a truck, no gas, no other transient services.
Beaufort-Morehead City -- As of 11:00 AM Saturday September 15th 2018 I couldn't connect to any of the Beaufort-Morehead City marinas I tried, so no confirmation that local marinas are prepared to accept transients or pump fuel. Best bet for southbounders - don't expect services south of Coinjock.
Coinjock Marina -- As of 10:30 AM Saturday September 15th 2018 Coinjock Marina is open, selling fuel, with limited transient dockage available. The dockmaster told me that Belhaven is hard-hit, Oriental is hard-hit, Morehead City - Beaufort is ok. He expects rising water levels due to torrential inland rains to close the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal portion of the ICW in a few days, so transient traffic should monitor closely.
Alligator River Marina -- As of 10:30 AM Saturday September 15th 2018 Alligator River Marina is closed to transients with no estimated time to reopen.
As Far East as I Could Get -- I drove east the morning of 9/13/18 on U.S. 64, as far as the Alligator River Bridge, where the sheriff had the road blocked. A convoy of National Guardsmen went through, but all other traffic was turned back. I took this picture of the waves crashing on the Alligator River Marina jetty with the deserted bridge in the background.
Fly Out, or Sail Out -- but don't plan to take a ferry out of Ocracoke. The last outbound boat to Hatteras left at 8:00 Wednesday morning, and the last sound ferry departed for Swan Quarter at 9:30. Reported by Ocracoke Current.
Curving to the West -- As of morning of Wednesday 9/12/18, the storm is curving off to the west and making it less likely that Edenton will see severe effects. But we are still making preparations here, including removing sails and doubling lines. The storm is still two days out, so a lot can change.
North Topsail Beach -- has ordered mandatory evacuation starting 8:00 AM Tuesday, as reported by WITN News.
First Effects of Florence -- are already being felt, as of Monday, 9/10/18. Ocean overwash was reported on Pea Island at the morning's high tide, and Hyde County issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors on Ocracoke Island at noon. Evacuation order for residents will no doubt follow soon. In addition, Dare County issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors and residents of Hatteras Island effective immediately and a COUNTYWIDE evacuation to start the morning of Tuesday, 9/10/18. Thanks Ocracoke Current and Island Free Press for Outer Banks news coverage.
Likelihood of a Pummelling -- from Florence is increasing. As of 9/9/18 the forecast path makes landfall somewhere near Cape Fear and the storm then drives straight into the heart of North Carolina. If this proves accurate, the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds will both be in the line of fire. Expect the water to get high - very, very high - as onshore winds and waves bottle up the inlets and heavy rains flood down the rivers. See to your boats and then get west, or be prepared for a long siege. If you plan to ride this thing out east of Interstate 95, be sure to have plenty of potable water, a camp stove and lantern, groceries, and everything you need to be safe. Because if Florence hits the coast of NC head-on as a Category 4, the lights are going out in the eastern part of the state for a long time.
Keep a weather eye on Florence -- As of 9/7/18 the storm is still far out in the Atlantic but potentially could impact the southeast coast in a week's time.
Moriah is for Sale -- My friend Dan White of Edenton is selling his Sarabande 41.
Updated Information on Glander Tavana -- The owner of the boat in Edenton gave me a tour and provided links to more information. See the "Know Your Boats" feature on the Glander Tavana 33.
News Archives -- For older items, click here
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