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Old 01-04-2016, 10:45 AM   #1
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Great Stop Heading South

Ran south from Alligator Marina to Belhaven, N.C. Going in and out of Alligator Marina you run next to the bridge. Be careful to give bridge plenty of room as the current can push you very close. At Belhaven I stayed at River Forest Marina. Great stop in every way. well protected, big clean rest rooms and free golf cart to see the town and pick up supplies. Henry and Ed work the dock and fuel and do a great job. I would go again by boat or car.
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:21 AM   #2
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Apparently there have been big changes there since we were there in June 2014. At that time, it was a dump. I believe it has been sold and the new owners are restoring it.


We did get a golf cart though and the owners loaned us their personal car to go to the grocery store.


Belhaven is a nice town to visit,
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Old 01-04-2016, 12:19 PM   #3
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It changed hands about a year ago. I stayed there last December (2014) bringing a boat down from the Chesapeake. At that point they were gutting the big house and just beginning on the bathrooms. Nice people; years ago this place was really something and it needed some cash and somebody that wants to make it a viable business. Henry is great.
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Old 01-04-2016, 12:30 PM   #4
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It changed hands about a year ago. I stayed there last December (2014) bringing a boat down from the Chesapeake. At that point they were gutting the big house and just beginning on the bathrooms. Nice people; years ago this place was really something and it needed some cash and somebody that wants to make it a viable business. Henry is great.
The old owner took us through the house. It was sad. He had turned off the heat to save money but the plaster was peeling, and it smelled of mold, etc. The pool was neglected and closed.

You could see through the shower floor to the ground. The docks were a mess but we stayed behind the boatyard because of a pending hurricane.

He and his wife were great but obviously not able to take care of the business,
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Old 01-04-2016, 12:31 PM   #5
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We always anchored out there, down towards the bridge. Nice little "dinghy harbor" very handy.
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Old 01-04-2016, 01:46 PM   #6
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Amazing how the reviews completely reversed themselves starting in November 2014. One of the things I've advised is that when you take over a struggling business you must make the difference so obvious that everyone comments on it. Apparently, they've done that. I applaud that, someone buying with a real plan and immediately executing it. Makes me anxious to get there and check it out. Our only 2015 stop in Belhaven we docked at Dowry Creek Marina. (Belhaven address but not technically in Belhaven). Because we were just making an overnight stop, not stopping to see the town, it was fine being a bit more distant from the town. We'll definitely have to give River Forest a visit now.
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:06 PM   #7
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I was crewing on a boat as engr about 18yr ago and the capt piled it up in the canal. Limped back to Bel Hell for prop and shaft work. Stayed there for like 4days and got to know the town. The old house then was already in decay. Stopped briefly there about 5yrs ago and it had really gone down hill.

Joke was that there was a curse there and your boat or engine would break down and you would be stuck in some sort of "Twilight Zone". It happened to more than one of my customers!!!

That is fantastic someone has taken things over and are turning it around. I too may stop there again. It sure has potential to be a great stop, as long as someone takes care of the place.
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Old 01-04-2016, 05:16 PM   #8
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Coincidently, my wife and I had a trip to the US just before Christmas, en route to the UK to spend Christmas with our daughter - we visited friends in Bellhaven - I walked the dock that you mention - everything is virtually brand new - all timbers and pilings and yes, my mate mentioned the golf cart.
Bellhaven is not large- but very quaint and for an Aussie, perhaps the epitome of small town USA - and the accents of the locals still blow me away, even though we lived in Virginia for a couple of years - we just lurv to hear y`all talk
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:20 PM   #9
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I usually stay at the free dock in Belhaven but did stop at River Forest when it was in its heyday when Mom owned it. Supposedly the son tried but didn't do as well as mom.

I heard a bunch of people from town have bought it and are rejuvenating it. I saw new siding and fresh paint through binocs when passing by so I went down to see what was going on...A LOT!!!!

Not sure it will return to the good old days...I was also told it would be more of a "rented" place say for weddings, gathering, events, etc.....but the Marina may shape up nicely.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:35 PM   #10
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I only ate at the manor house once, back in 2007. Wasn't that great then. The issue is that the Belhaven area is poor and sparse. It's a battle to sustain a year around business. The closure of the hospital (right by the dinghy harbor) was a blow, and an indicator. The mayor has made the plight of rural hospitals a real mission, interesting story you can look up. The town is in better shape now than 5 years ago, but still a long ways to go. For those of you willing to get off the Magenta Line a bit, Columbia is a similar picturesque little town worth a side trip sometime.
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:48 PM   #11
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I only ate at the manor house once, back in 2007. Wasn't that great then. The issue is that the Belhaven area is poor and sparse. It's a battle to sustain a year around business. .
It is a poor town. There is a fantastic restaurant now right in the center of the town, being run by a young couple who are buying up main st. properties and trying to resurrect things...Spoon River. Excellent if you get to Belhaven and right next door to one of the best old time hardware stores around. Don't forget the "paid" city docks. Considerably closer than the run down free docks, reasonable $$ too.. Easy walk to everything..The Australian Chief of Police doubles as dockmaster....:-)
Very pleasant visit this past summer...

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Old 01-04-2016, 08:32 PM   #12
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I have been going to the River Forest Manor since 1970. The first time a rattle snake crawled across the dock. The docks steadily deteriorated until the last time there I felt they were unsafe. It was a rocking place in the 70s. They had an older lady that would play the piano for singalongs. Most every boat on the north/south migration would stop there. The buffet was large and good. The parrot and minor bird kept squawking loudly. All in all a fun place.

I had a client who lived across the street on the corner facing the water. He and Axon Smith were great friends, and we would usually eat at the manor when I came to town.

Fond memories indeed, but definitely sad to watch it deteriorate.
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Old 01-04-2016, 08:38 PM   #13
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The free docks are NOT run down at all...they are in good shape.

They are just off a vacant lot that you trudge through and there can be bird droppings and shells on them

But I was just there 2 weeks ago...by myself and the concrete and pilings are some of the newer docks between Jersey and Florida. Just a few years old.

What is nice is they are closer to shopping but just out of town...they split the difference distance wise if you are on foot or bike.
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:06 PM   #14
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First visited River Forest in 1972. We were bringing my fathers 58' sport fisherman south to Daytona, Fl. for the winter. We were the next to last vessel to take one of two remaining berths. The next boat in was a 70' Trumpy Motor Yacht. She did not fit the remaining berth . My father offered to move to allow the Trumpy a home. We had a hail on our stern of Boston, Ma. Axon Smith said it was the first act of a gentleman from Boston he had ever witnessed. The Trumpy owner, paid our slip fee, Axon Smith gave us free meals at the buffet.

The food and settings were outstanding. We had a grand times much so, that almost every time we travelled on the ICW, we stopped at River Forest. Dad's last stop was in 1988, and he had a smaller boat, Mrs. Smith was running the place and things were starting to deteriorate . My last stop was in 2000, things were not good, the grand lady was in disrepair. Am happy to hear it is being restored. Great place, wonderful people . Still can hear Mr. Smith comment about a Boston gentleman. The Trumpy was owned by Samuel DuPont from Delaware.
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:52 PM   #15
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That my friend,,, is interesting. I will stop there sometime just because of your post.
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Old 01-05-2016, 05:50 AM   #16
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First visited River Forest in 1972. We were bringing my fathers 58' sport fisherman south to Daytona, Fl. for the winter. We were the next to last vessel to take one of two remaining berths. The next boat in was a 70' Trumpy Motor Yacht. She did not fit the remaining berth . My father offered to move to allow the Trumpy a home. We had a hail on our stern of Boston, Ma. Axon Smith said it was the first act of a gentleman from Boston he had ever witnessed. The Trumpy owner, paid our slip fee, Axon Smith gave us free meals at the buffet.

The food and settings were outstanding. We had a grand times much so, that almost every time we travelled on the ICW, we stopped at River Forest. Dad's last stop was in 1988, and he had a smaller boat, Mrs. Smith was running the place and things were starting to deteriorate . My last stop was in 2000, things were not good, the grand lady was in disrepair. Am happy to hear it is being restored. Great place, wonderful people . Still can hear Mr. Smith comment about a Boston gentleman. The Trumpy was owned by Samuel DuPont from Delaware.
Exactly my experience back in 2002 or so...we hit buffet night and it was pretty amazing.
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:06 AM   #17
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I was talking with Ann about Belhaven, which we have also visited a few times by car.
The town is really trying to improve itself, opening new businesses and refreshing old ones, building town docks both free and fee, working to overcome the closure of the hospital, and so on. The effort deserves support and encouragement from transiting yachtsmen and other visitors to the area.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:22 AM   #18
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I see from an older log that we stayed at River Forest on 30 Sep and 1 Oct 2001, en route back from Dania to the Chesapeake. That after getting beat up a bit on the Neuse River and around through Pamlico Sound. Made a useful bail-out point after all that, although it was a planned 1-night stop anyway.


It also happened to be a stop where some crew's relatives could join us by car... but by chance the restaurant was closed for a private function... owner's birthday... but they fed us all anyway, direct from their family cook-out... and it was a great meal, very nice folks, great visit.


Dock weren't great but not horrible, the fuel pumps were a bit dicey... Crew stayed in a hotel room, said it was a bit creaky... and then forecast for the Albemarle was grim so they convinced me to lay over another night. Very pleasant, actually.


Nice to hear they're on the upswing again.


-Chris
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:18 AM   #19
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".we hit buffet night and it was pretty amazing."

First went thru in '68 , and learned the trick to the buffet.

Start at the end and go thru backwards.

The salad and vegys are at the front , the shrimp and ribs at the end, start there!
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:59 AM   #20
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I stopped at the city docks last year northbound. Docks are cheap and in good condition. But the town is in decay. There is a well stocked hardware store a short walk away.

Southbound this year we opted to take the Cape Hatteras route visiting Manteo and Ocracoke, rejoining the ICW at Oriental, avoiding the Alligator River and Bellhaven. A more interesting option I think.
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