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.
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.
Doug Sanderson is not out to achieve his personal best or cross something off his bucket list. He's just out for a fun sail in the Bahamas and up the East Coast. His book is more like a long, extended conversation with a good friend over a bottle of something, as he looks back through his log books and relates the story of a trip on a boat. This is a comparatively recent book, the voyaging taking place in the early 2000s, so it is probably a good description of cruising in the Bahamas and up the East Coast to Newfoundland today. The story starts in Seattle, aboard Doug's Westsail 28 home, with a desire to take a long voyage, somewhere, anywhere...more.
Review 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.
I have made a few of these and the best design I have found is Larry and Lin Pardey's from their "Cost Conscious Cruiser" book. This has been published in article form in numerous magazines and online publications. My version is a little different - rather than sewing in a double bottom, I use a second boltrope around the bottom and then pound in a round wooden piece to serve as a bottom....more.
Article 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.
Traditional appearance above the water line, long fin and spade rudder below. The boat has wide side decks and a big open foredeck to make sail handling safe and easy...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
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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