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Old 05-29-2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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Pamlico and Albermarle Sound Cruise in NC

When I first rejoined this group, Don on Moonstruck invited me to post about cruising in NC since we had just retired to Oriental. We just got back from a week's cruise from Oriental up to Edenton on the western Albermarle and then over to Manteo on the upper outer banks and down to Ocracoke on the southern part of the outer banks. So here is the report.

We went slow at first, 7 kts average speed, so it took two days to get to Edenton. Our first stop was an anchorage in the southern end of the Alligator River just after you exit the canal. Deer flies, greenheads or whatever were horrible passing through Hobucken (same thing last year at this time) and it wasn't until we got in to open water on the Pungo River that I could get them all with a fly swatter. Fortunately no more after that.

There are several places to anchor on the Alligator depending on wind direction but since it was out of the north we anchored up against the northern shore and spent a quiet night at anchor.

The next morning we headed up the Alligator River in to 10+ kts of wind on our nose that probably built to 15-20 by the time we turned west in to the Albermarle. It was pretty rough for a few hours with the wind on the beam and at least 5 miles of fetch for the waves to build. But we finally got further in to the sound and the waves abated.

Edenton was the jewel of the trip. We tied up at the town marina which is free for the first two nights except for power which was $3.00 for 30 amp. The marina is right in the heart of town and a pretty one it is. There is a courthouse built in the early 1700s that is worth a look. Also the Cupola House and gardens. A couple of good restaurants are on Broad Street a block or two from the marina.

The town marina has a truck that you can borrow for shopping so we picked up a few forgotten provisioning items.

After a couple of days exploring the town and eating good food we headed east to Manteo. You go all of the way to the eastern end of the Albermarle and then turn south in to Roanoke Sound and around to Manteo.

Manteo has enough free docks that I suspect they never fill up. Probably room for a dozen boats and we were the only cruiser there. We tied up at the pier that ends at a gazebo. The town is right there similar to Edenton but much smaller. The downtown has been redeveloped and it all had the same architectural theme- nice but nothing like Edenton. There were shops, a couple of restaurants and a nice pub with an on premises brewery.

We left Manteo the next morning and then faced 15 NM of tight channel navigation. Depths were ok, nothing less than 7' but you had to pay attention, particularly when the red/greens switch at the Oregon Inlet.

Having had enough of that stuff once we broke in to the open Pamlico we goosed the boat up to 14 kts for then next three hours to Ocracoke. Moderate wind on our stern helped.

This was our 3rd or 4th time to visit Ocracoke, but we were disappointed that the National Park Service had closed their docks for repairs. I suspect that they are open now. No problem, Silver Lake has room for dozens of anchored boats (which there were) but every one seemed to have room.

The crowd this Memorial Day weekend seemed to be lighter than last year for some reason and the bars/restaurants were a bit subdued but we enjoyed ourselves. Like last year there were three bars with bands going at the same time so we could do a pub crawl, but we just focused on one this time.

We hung out on the hook for two days and then headed home to Oriental. The horse seemed to smell the barn so we opened her up and made it home in less than 3 hours.

The only real boat problem was that the Raymarine GPS fix packed it in on our chartplotter half way through the trip. So I propped up my Nexus 7 with MxMariner on the helm and didn't miss the Raymarine at all.

As a postscript it will cost about double to replace the defunct Raymarine GPS than the full cost of the Nexus. Oh well, it is installed on a boat isn't it.

Edenton, Manteo and Ocracoke are out of the way for ICW cruisers. If you are going north on the ICW it isn't that many miles out of your way to go to Ocracoke, then Manteo and then catch up with the Coinjock route going on to Portsmouth. But you miss the prize- Edenton which is 30 miles off the ICW track any way you cut it. But worth going there at least once.

David
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Old 05-29-2014, 11:01 PM   #2
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Thanks, David. Glad you remembered. NC sounds country is a special place. In addition to the stops you covered there is Washington, Bath, Belhaven, Elizabeth City, New Bern, Oriental, Beaufort/Morehead City, and Swansboro. Of all I think the crown jewel is Cape Lookout. Too many rush through NC on the way to Florida or the Chesapeake. This is laid back cruising.

You certainly refreshed my memory of some great cruising. Having lived, worked, and cruised in those areas it is very special to me.
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Old 05-30-2014, 02:17 AM   #3
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Great post and while NC has some absolutely great areas to cruise, that's really true for most areas. People often see the major ports and miss the rest. NC, people tend to hit Wrightsville (even missing Wilmington which is great) and Beaufort. However, from the northernmost to southern end of the state is great. Our favorite so far is probably Bald Head Island, but then there's so much we haven't yet seen. Our goal is each time through or by NC to make sure we see at least one town we've not seen before. I grew up in NC and made quite a few outer banks trips when a child, but it's not the same by land.
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Old 05-30-2014, 03:41 AM   #4
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David,
Excellent post. We've been to Ocracoke may times in various boats. Want to get up to Edenton some day. We moved our trawler to Wilmington from Pecan Grove last weekend close to our new home. We'll miss Ocracoke and Cape Lookout the most, but looking forward to Southport and Bald Head as reasonable substitutes.
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Old 05-30-2014, 05:52 AM   #5
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Greetings,
Mr. d. Thanks for that. We have spent a bit of time in the area. If I may add a few details... The town docks at Manteo charge a fee during the summer months. Elizabeth City (EC) town docks, while free (no $) can get quite "bumpy" in a S to SE wind and there's no power available If anyone's in the area of EC do the Carolina Loop. North from EC: Up the Dismal Swamp Canal (alternate to the main ICW) fuel, limited provisions available at Lamb's Marina, to Chesapeake. VA and down the main ICW to and past Coinjock. Takes about 3 days. Destination: Great Loop | Southern Boating - The South's Largest Boating Magazine
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:54 AM   #6
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Great write up on our home waters for the past three years or so. Thanks!

A couple of notes:

1) I think you gave Manteo short shrift. Next time, rent a bicycle and take the pretty bike path up to the Fort and park. You can also bike over to the nice NC state aquarium. The museum and park across from the town docks is a fun couple of hours. The old movie theater downtown is like a trip back 60 years in small town America. The "Lost Colony" theater production is a matter of taste (way too unintentionally campy for us), but in a pretty setting up next to the fort and something different.

You can also rent a car from the local Ford dealer or from Enterprise over in Kill Devil Hills both of whom will pick you up and deliver you back. Makes it easier to explore the beautiful national seashore area from Bodie Island lighthouse south (the dense touristy mess of KGH, Nags Head et al is not for us). We also like visiting Wanchese at the south of Roanoke Island, bike-able for the fit, but we do by car. Lots of Carolina boatbuilders (primarily custom cold molded sport fish), but also the very interesting and high tech Gun Boat big cruising sailing catamarans), commercial fisherman, great seafood stores and a good old fashioned seafood restaurant, Fisherman's Wharf. All in all in our opinion a lot more to do and see than Edenton. You can fill up three or four days there quickly.

For those who like a "real" marina, both the town marina adjacent to the "free" docks and Shallowbag Marina a bit further south are friendly and nice. Some friends of ours really enjoyed the resort amenities at Shallowbag, which i believe offers discounts to Active Captain and Boat US. In any case call the dockmasters for detailed instructions on getting in and out!

On a flying bridge equipped boat, the route to/from the south to Pamlico Sound is very pretty, one of our favorite stretches in all of NC, with the various sand bars, small islands , old hunting lodges, etc.

2) In addition to the great anchorage, fun village and many good eateries and great seafood co-op store, Ocracoke (overall still our favorite "town" destination) has a great beach you can rent a bike to get to. The trip over to the "ghost town" of Portsmouth Village, via dinghy or water taxi, is very interesting, bring mosquito repellant in the summer though. We always anchored at Ocracoke, more privacy than the park docks next to the big ferries or at the marina.

2a) for those cruising further, beautiful South River is a great unlimited anchorage with a place to drop the hook for any weather conditions, between Ocracoke and New Bern or Morehead City.


3) There is no substitute for Cape Lookout! Always amazing to me how many people we met in a rush to get north and south who never went there.
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:09 AM   #7
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Thanks for sharing your North Carolina cruise with us. Eventually I intend to live in coastal NC when I retire, if I can ever retire. I bought a place in NC off of Old Lupton road in Merritt but due to the economy I ended up selling it back to the guy I bought it off of. I believe he is a member on this board and has it for sale again. I really feel like kicking myself because the land had real potential. George even took the time to check the place and area for us before we purchased it. Thanks George!
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:29 AM   #8
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Your Raymarine failure is oh so familiar. After "repairing" my Raymarine E 120 and E 80 numerous times including failed GPS, failed depth sounder and more that I choose to forget, I gave up and ripped the whole mess out. I replaced everything with Garmin including two MFDs, radar and depth sounder. 2-years later I'm more than happy with the Garmin. The one time I needed tech support, and the few times I needed some additional directions on using the equipment Garmin answered the phone immediately. With Raymarine, I actually listened to music for over an hour. Finally left a message and got a call back 2-DAYS later. I wouldn't have Raymarine equipment on my boat again ever. I'd rather use paper charts and a line with a weight on it for a depth sounder.

Sorry for the rant and for hijacking this thread but it opened an old wound and I hate to see someone else throw good money after bad. Just sayin' Howard
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by hmason View Post
Your Raymarine failure is oh so familiar. After "repairing" my Raymarine E 120 and E 80 numerous times including failed GPS, failed depth sounder and more that I choose to forget, I gave up and ripped the whole mess out. I replaced everything with Garmin including two MFDs, radar and depth sounder. 2-years later I'm more than happy with the Garmin. The one time I needed tech support, and the few times I needed some additional directions on using the equipment Garmin answered the phone immediately. With Raymarine, I actually listened to music for over an hour. Finally left a message and got a call back 2-DAYS later. I wouldn't have Raymarine equipment on my boat again ever. I'd rather use paper charts and a line with a weight on it for a depth sounder.

Sorry for the rant and for hijacking this thread but it opened an old wound and I hate to see someone else throw good money after bad. Just sayin' Howard
I'm 100% with you when it comes to Garmin marine products. There is great factory support and the updates are done via the Internet and an SD card.
I just think dollar to dollar it's hard to beat Garmin.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:07 AM   #10
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Raymarine was in some financial trouble a few years ago, and then were bought by FLIR. Recent purchasers seem happy with quality and service. Still, I suppose if I had to choose new electronics, I'd lean towards considering Garmin, a more American brand, than Raymarine.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:13 AM   #11
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Raymarine was in some financial trouble a few years ago, and then were bought by FLIR. Recent purchasers seem happy with quality and service. Still, I suppose if I had to choose new electronics, I'd lean towards considering Garmin, a more American brand, than Raymarine.
That's a good point George Garmin does employee people in the US. That's another reason why I chose KVH products.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:15 AM   #12
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Fortunately I have a great Raymarine tech, Pete Waterson, who runs Seacoast Marine in Oriental. I took the GPS head to him and he hooked it up to a working chartplotter and confirmed that it had failed.

It is a totally epoxy potted unit and Pete surmised that it was damaged by lightening.

What is a bit frustrating (and this is true of all electronics manufacturers) is that Raymarine doesn't make the old Seatalk version. They make a Seatalkng one that I have to buy an interface kit to connect to my old Seatalk chartplotter. And at least right now, none of the old type are available on eBay.

And the cost is ten times what a hocky puck gps costs today, but it is a "marine" item!!!

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Old 05-30-2014, 11:13 AM   #13
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David, funny you mention Pete Waterson. WE purchased his Marine Trader from him
almost 2 yrs. ago, and we still love it. Spend every weekend on her. As a matter of fact,
we just got back from doing the "Carolina Loop" via Edenton, and as mentioned in
this thread, Edenton was the highlight of the trip. Took us 8 days....Next time you see Pete tell hin Frank said Hi.......

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Old 05-30-2014, 11:39 AM   #14
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We've traveled the NC mostly since we stayed in Southport for 3 years. Our favorite was Cape Look out, Manteo and Ocrakoe. Many people miss these great spots because like was said it is off the ICW. Most all these little towns and destinations are better if you bring your bicycles and tour the towns. These little laid back towns can be very interesting and you can burn lots of time there. We stayed in Manteo for 10 days and got a sweat heart of a deal with Shallowbag Bay Marina. We biked all over town and saw the outdoor play "The lost Colony", Andy Griffiths farm, replica of the Queen Elizebeth II sailing ship and tons more. Its really a great cruising destination. We look forward to going back.
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