Neuse River Sailors
Sailing Southeastern Waters
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.
It was late December, and Edenton was experiencing seasonal weather, pleasant days with highs in the upper 60s and cool nights. Occasional clouds spit a few drops of moisture, and the wind blew strong and steady from the southwest. I was down not to sail, but just to spend a few days living aboard my boat and enjoying the simple pleasures of the town...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.
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.
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.
You can contact this site by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2017, 2018 Paul M. Clayton
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.
August 2018 Dismal Swamp Canal Update -- I stopped in Pelican Marina in Elizabeth City and was told that traffic through the Canal is light but regular, and there are no reports of shoaling. The only issue was with overhanging tree branches making it hard to get over for passes. The Pelican Marina staff reported that Lamb's Marina is selling fuel.
Stumpy Point Ferry -- Catherine Kozak at Island Free Press reports on readiness issues at the Rodanthe landing, as well as providing some historical background on the route. Long-time readers of this site may remember my 2012 story about riding the ferry.
Potential for Rough Weather -- On June 7th, 2018, Weather Underground reports an area of low pressure off the NC coast with the potential to develop into a tropical storm or hurricane. Weather Underground.
True Sailors -- The crew of NC Ferry Silver Lake spotted a paddler in distress and detoured to save him, June 22nd, 2018. Article at Island Free Press.
New Voice -- Neuse River Sailor David Swanson has contributed an article and many photographs to the site. See the Sailing Trips and Photographs sections for his work. His story ends "Overall, it was not a bad vacation." Once you read it, you'll know he's pretty hardcore.
Gradually Getting Back to Normal -- As of Thursday, 3/8/18, Highway 12 is open though there are still areas of standing water and sand on the road. The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries are running on schedule. The cross-sound ferries are running intermittently due to shoaling in Big Foot Slough. Travelers should call the Ferry Division at 252-928-1665 or 252-225-7411 to make a reservation if they want to be sure to get a spot.
Delaware City Marina -- Snowbirds coming from New Jersey and points north and using the Delaware River - Uppper Chesapeake Bay route may want to consider a stopover at Delaware City Marina. I stopped in on a recent road trip to the Delmarva and it looked like a clean, well-tended facility. Plenty of transient dockage and a full service yard, but the owner suggested scheduling work well in advance during the busy season. Fuel is available at the dock. The marina is located just upriver of the entrance to the C&D Canal.
Awful Mess -- The evening of Sunday, 3/4/18, Hatteras - Ocracoke ferries are suspended as Highway 12 is impassible on either end. The cross-sound ferries are operating on attenuated schedules and the ferry division strongly recommends reservations. Highway 12 is closed from Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe due to ocean-side flooding. So Pea and Hatteras Islands are cut off and Ocracoke Island has tenuous connection to the mainland. Anyone needing to travel on the Banks tonight or tomorrow should monitor the Ferry Division Twitter Feed and the NCDOT NC12 Twitter Feed.
Ocracoke Isolated -- As of the morning of 3/3/18, all ferries to Ocracoke Island are suspended due to weather. Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear river ferries are running as scheduled. The latest information is always available at the Ferry Division Twitter Feed. In related news, the soundside flooding that had covered much of Highway 12 south of the Bonner Bridge has receded and traffic is flowing normally. See NCDOT NC12 Twitter Feed for updates.
March Storms -- The first days of March 2018 look like they will bring stormy weather to the Outer Banks. Gusts to 45 mph and seas to 17 feet can be expected over the weekend, bringing soundside flooding and ocean overwash. The Island Free Press has more information.
Be Sure to Make a Reservation -- if you plan to ride the Pamlico Sound ferries in late February or early March 2018. Due to shoaling in Big Foot Slough, the ferries are short-loading. See press release at NCDOT.
Updates to the Q&A Article -- I got into Pungo Creek and Dowry Creek marinas on a drive to Edenton and updated the article with information on each.
The Strangest Cal 25 You Will Ever See -- The owner has duded it up to look like a pirate ship. He uses it in re-enactments, but come on man, it's only 25 feet long - plus the seven foot bowsprit, of course. I guess if you had a whole fleet of them crewed by toddlers it might look authentic. Check it out at The Shipping News.
Bottled Up -- February 20th, 2018 - Water levels in the channel into Silver Lake are too low for the larger Sound Class ferries, so the Ocracoke to Cedar Island and Ocracoke to Swan Quarter routes are running reduced schedules using the smaller boats. Check with the Ferry System twitter feed before making plans.
It's been awhile, I know -- Check out the Articles section below for a new post.
Alligator River Bridge -- will close to highway AND MARINE traffic for a week in March 2018. According to this announcement at NCDOT, "The bridge will be closed to all vehicle traffic at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 and is expected to reopen by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20. The drawbridge will also be closed to boat navigation." Early-season southbounders take note.
Perusing an Old Timetable -- I find that in 1909 I could have boarded a train in Greensboro just after midnight, bedded down in my private accomodation aboard the sleeper, awoke the following morning after eight hours of slumber somewhere near New Bern and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the dining car before arriving in Beaufort just before noon. The following morning I could have boarded a vessel of the aptly-named Beaufort, Morehead City and Ocracoke Steam Ship Company for the trip up the Core Sound to Ocracoke. Practically every hamlet in eastern North Carolina had train passenger service, even Oriental, and the waterfront towns all had steamer service as well. Norfolk & Southern Railways timetable for 1909, digital copy available at The Internet Archive.
Fast, Easy Documentation Renewal -- Valor was not documented, and so this is the first year I have had to renew documentation on a boat. Here is how I proceeded to renew paperwork for Terry Ann. I started off at the Official U.S. Coast Guard Website. I found a link in the left column for renewal and clicked through to Pay.gov. From there I clicked on "Continue to Form". After reading the boilerplate, I clicked again on "Continue to the Form", filled in name and address, checked "Renewal", entered the documentation number, checked "recreational" and went to the next page, which gathered credit card information and allowed me to submit my request. Note - you do not have to fill in and submit the printed form that you may have gotten in the mail (the "Vessel Renewal Notification Application for Renewal, Form CG-1280") if you use the website to pay and file timely or "late". If you file over 30 days late, your documentation expired and you have to jump through hoops to reinstate it. I filed mine online and had the renewed documentation in hand six days later. Darn quick, in my estimation. There are websites out there that will undertake to handle your renewal for a fee - no need, doing it yourself is fast and easy.
Paralysis -- As of the morning of 1/4/18, the NCDOT Ferry System Twitter Feed reports all ferry routes closed due to winter weather conditions.
Pining After Loran? -- My favorite source for all things logistics and global supply chain, DCVelocity Magazine, reports that some of the big ocean shippers are considering reverting back to Loran to guard against GPS hack attacks. But not old-fashioned Loran-C - new, modern eLoran. Actually, eLoran has been around since the 1990s. It was a follow-up to Loran-C that never caught on during the mass conversion to GPS. But now it's back. Any Neuse River sailors using eLoran? I'd love to hear your take on this new old tech.
53 Types of Boats -- A young sailor and reader sent me this link to an infographic about different types of boats and ships. Thanks, Emily!.
Beaufort Inlet Changes -- Carteret County News-Times has posted an article concerning a potential shift of the Morehead City Ship Channel away from Shackleford Banks and toward Fort Macon, to counter the continual shoaling in the inlet. There is concern that this would cause beach erosion at the State Park and Atlantic Beach. An alternative would be to build a jetty or groin on the Shackleford side, which could damage the pristine natural banks. This is in a very early stage but is something to be aware of.
Reasonable Rates -- Anyone exploring the St. Johns River might consider spending some time at The Boathouse Marina in Palatka. Attached is a rate sheet accurate as of October 2017.
Shoaling in the Cape Fear? -- Or wrong side of the marker? This amazing video,, reportedly taken by a backyard webcam in Southport, shows a deep-sea freighter hitting a shoal and slewing 180 degrees. Thanks Charlotte Observer for posting the video.
New Ferry on the Way -- The NC Ferry Division has signed a contract with Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana for a new River-Class ferry, to be delivered in 2019. The boat will replace old stalwart Thomas A. Baum, a familiar sight on the Neuse River.
October 31st 2017 Update on Dismal Swamp Canal -- Thanks Dan for pointing me to this update at The Waterway Guide. The canal is open with a minimum depth of 5.5 feet. Before trying to navigate the canal, read the article at Waterway Guide for important details regarding widths, lock and bridge opening schedules and duckweed infestations.
Old Canal Passage -- Neuse River sailor David Swanson sent me an email in late October 2017 about his transit of Old Canal, the connector between Turnagain Bay and Long Bay: "I finally made it to Turnagain Bay, and through the Old Canal, this Friday. I went through with my centerboard down, without incident. My depth sounder was not working, but I had no issue with getting into the bay either, just followed the chart. I anchored a ways past the entrance to the Old Canal, and had relatively few mosquito problems. What I did have Saturday morning was a LOT of small fishing boats - there must be a boat ramp up there somewhere. Also the Marines put on quite a show." David notes that with the board down, his boat draws a bit over four feet. It's great to hear that this ancient waterway is still navigable. The Old Canal is part of the early route from Core Sound to the Neuse River, bypassing the often rough Pamlico Sound by way of the Thorofare Canal and West Bay.
Fort George Island Marina -- I stopped by on an October 2017 road trip and found them open for business with plenty of transient space. The marina is at the mouth of the St. Johns River, just outside of Jacksonville FL.
Dismal Swamp Canal Still Closed -- As of 10/26/17 the Canal is still closed and there is no word from the Corps of Engineers as to a prospective opening date.
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