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, close by the mouths of the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers. My boat is a little long-legged to make it in, so I made my visit by car.
It all started in Edenton, on a quest for high-quality marine exterior paint to coat the deteriorating teak on my Alberg 35 Terry Ann. The salesperson at the local hardware store knew just what I needed but didn't have a close-by source. He gave me an address in Norfolk and suggested that might be the closest option. I knew better. I figured I could get what I needed at a boatyard on the Albermarle, not on the spot, but they could order it. Pelican Marina in Elizabeth City was an option, or Mackeys Marina just across the sound.
A call to Mackeys got an invitation to drive over and peruse the catalog of the big distributor in Tidewater that services all the yards in eastern NC. Joanne, the marina manager, told me that the truck came down every day except weekends and Mondays, and if I placed an order by mid-afternoon I could have it the next day.
I made the half-hour drive to Mackeys and spent a while considering the paint possibilities. Awlgrip would have been a good option, but in the end I placed an order for a quart of Petit EZPrime and one of EZPoxy. I have used Petit bottom paint for years and I like it, so I stuck with the brand I knew.
Afterward I spent a few minutes walking the marina docks. Slips were available for boats up to 45 feet in length. There were gas and diesel pumps on the dock, 30 amp service, a pump-out cart, and a Travel-Lift. There were a couple of clean and comfortable restrooms with showers as well.
The ship's store provides the aforementioned next-day ordering service, plus short order, coffee, ice and plenty of cold beer. So, while the little town of Mackey's Ferry contains exactly zero amenities, you won't starve and you won't go thirsty.
The yard looks to be mostly DIY, but manager Joanne might be able to help with arrangements for local machanics. For cruisers making a side trip up the Albemarle, the cost of doing a quick bottom cleaning and painting at Mackeys would be far less than having it done at one of the yards along the ICW.
For a low-key marina off the beaten path with nice facilities and a welcoming management, Mackeys Marina would be hard to beat.
Reviewed by Paul M. Clayton