Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
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.
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.
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
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.
Edenton in the Clear -- Dorian passed to the east early morning of Friday, August 6th. The wind gusted up around 55 mph but the expected storm surge of 3-5 feet failed to materialize. Little damage apparent.
While We Wait, More Pop Up -- It's Monday, September 2nd. While we wait for a potential rendezvous with Dorian later in the week, the North Atlantic starts to bubble and steam. Invest 91L, west of the Cabo Verdes, begins its long trek across the ocean. Invest 92L meanders south of Bermuda. And Invest 93L spins slowly in the center of the Gulf of Mexico. Prudent sailors will keep an eye on them all. Weather Underground.
In the Cone -- As of mid-day 8/31/19 - current thinking is that Dorian may be somewhere in eastern NC as a category 2 hurricane next Thursday. The NWS is having a hard time getting a handle on the potential track of this storm, and the circle of uncertainty suggest the storm could be anywhere from far out at sea off the Florida-Georgia border to the foothills of the NC mountains by that date. I am getting the impression that the NWS has lost confidence in their models, thrown up their hands and admitted they are unable to make a prediction with any degree of confidence. Here is a screenshot of the map from Weather Underground at 11:00 AM 8/31/19.
Labor Day Weekend -- It's a great time to relax at the marina, enjoy the warm days and cool nights of late summer, cook out, day sail - and then stow all canvas, double dock lines and secure the boat, just in case...
"It’s beginning to get our attention" -- in the words of TownDock.net. Saturday morning forecasts show Dorian recurving up the coast, greatly increasing the risk for a major weather event in eastern North Carolina.
A Little Slower, A Lot Stronger -- As of 2:00 PM Wednesday 8/28/19 Dorian is officially a hurricane. Weather Underground's current forecast brings it ashore on the central Florida coast next Monday as a Category 3, 111-129 mile per hour winds.
We'll See -- Early morning, Wednesday 8/28/19. Windy.com projects hurricane Dorian will strike the Florida coast near Port St. Lucie Sunday around noon. The storm will cross the state and exit into the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa on Monday morning. It will spend a day off the coast regaining its strength, then come back ashore near Steinhatchie very early Wednesday morning. After crossing north Florida and south Georgia, the remnants of Dorian will cross back into the Atlantic near Savannah late Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon, the storm will be off Beaufort, NC. Friday the storm will drift eastward off the NC coast and redevelop into a huge, potent hurricane. That's as far as windy.com takes it this morning. It will be interesting to see how far this conjecture bears out. Regardless, prudent sailors will keep a close eye on the development of this storm. Here is a screenshot of windy.com's projection for September 6th, 2019.
Zero to One to Three to Four -- The settled weather is over and the Atlantic hurricane season is picking up steam. Ten days ago there were no active storms in the region. Then Chantel developed far offshore and north. A few days passed and two more invests popped up - one just off the Florida coast and an African wave far out at sea. Today, 8/24/19, these three are all still around - the African wave now officially a tropical depression and expected to be a hurricane by mid-week - and are joined an area of unsettled weather in the western Gulf of Mexico, Invest 90L. Weather Underground is showing five active storms, but appears to be double-counting Invest 99L as Tropical Depression 5.
Save the Baby Mullets -- A bipartisan bill in the NC house commonly known as the "Let Them Spawn" bill has created a furor in coastal Carolina among commercial fisherment and tourism interests. The bill would protect several fish species, including mullet, by requiring that 75% of the population be allowed to reach spawning size before being harvested. An article at Island Free Press, not labeled as such but clearly an editorial, postulates that "commercial fishing as an industry might cease in N.C." if the bill is enacted. The argument is made that commercial fishermen depend on harvesting juvenile mullet for their livelihoods. No argument is made that mullet populations are doing fine without the new legislation.
Broke From the Git-Go -- New ferry Rodanthe got in a few trips its first day before being idled its second for issues with its Caterpiller diesel engine. According to Island Free Press, a Ferry Division staffer said not to worry, "everything's under warranty". Well, that's reassuring...
New Ferries Coming On Line -- Island Free Press reports that M.V. Rodanthe embarked on her maiden voyage July 30th, 2019, covering the Hatteras - Ocracoke route. Old stalwart Thomas A. Baum will now be retired, resold or moved to a different route. Watchful Neuse River sailors might recall that Baum served the Cherry Point - Minnesott route for several months in 2016-2017. Two more new ferries are expected in 2020.
Not Enough Sand and Too Much -- Island Free Press has two articles about the problems the Ferry Division is having keeping their terminals open. The Coastal Resources Commission has granted NCDOT a variance to construct a short-term erosion fix to save the stacking lanes at the terminal at the north end of Ocracoke Island. Also, dredging of the emergency ferry terminal at Rodanthe is scheduled to begin in August 2019. Long-time readers of this site may remember the article here about riding the ferry from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe in 2012.
It's the Time of Year -- when you need to keep an eye on Weather Underground. July 22nd, 2019: Invest 94L Over The Bahamas Slowly Organizing and Heading Towards Florida.
"72% of the Placebo Group Vomiting" -- Read about the real-life testing of a new seasickness drug at Bloomberg. Love the business news!
Silver Lake Legislation -- Ocracoke Current reports NC Legislature has passed a bill giving Hyde County the right to regulate anchorage and navigation in Silver Lake.
It's an Invest -- The potential mid-July tropical depression is now Invest 92L (as of the morning of 7/9/19) and likely to be a tropical storm by Saturday, according to this report Weather Underground.
Ocracoke Express is Running -- The new pedestrian ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke started May 20th, 2019. It supplements the existing car ferry. The roundtrip fare is $4. For more information, see this page at the NC DOT site. OK, here's a hint. Buy your tickets at the Hatteras terminal and tell them you want to use promo code EXPRESS. You will get two tickets for the price of one.
Mid-July Tropical Depression -- July 6th, 2019 - Weather Underground speculates something might spin up in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico next week.
Neuse River Sailors who Know Long Bay -- will be happy to hear that the Coastal Land Trust has acquired a large tract on the southern shore and transferred it to the NC Wildlife Commission for preservation. 17 miles of shoreline will be protected. More at Ocracoke Current.
Raising Funds to Dredge Whittaker Creek -- Anyone who has tried to enter Whittaker Creek, the route in to the Oriental boatyards and several of the marinas, knows that the waters are shoaling. My latest trip to Sailcraft Service in June 2019 I was able to keep Terry Ann off the bottom, but it was slow and nerve-wracking. In times of low water I am sure that it is impossible to get a keel boat in. Oriental businesses and residents have raised almost $100,000 through June 2019 for dredging. Once they reach $109,389 they can get a grant for an additional $218,744, which will be enough to have the channel dredged. For more information, see this article at Towndock.net.
What's New, June 2019 -- An article about why Oriental should be the cruiser's first choice for resupply. And photographs, mostly from a sunset cruise aboard Colin Archer cutter Prinses Mia.
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 - email@example.com. 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.
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