Oriental to Albemarle Plantation Marina

On March 13, we left our winter home at Northwest Creek Marina near New Bern, NC and moved the boat 23 miles down the Neuse River to Zimmermans Marine in Oriental, NC. Zimmermans was to put in a new generator for us. They told us it would take a couple of weeks, but since I’ve always heard that boat yards always take way longer, I mentally penciled in three week.

Amazingly, the generator was in and running just 6 work days after they started on it. That was wonderful, but we really didn’t want to get on our way quite so quickly. Our first scheduled event, the AGLCA Spring Rendezvous, is in Norfolk, Virginia on May 5.

Norfolk is five or six easy days travel from Oriental. How were we going to take a month plus to do a five or six day trip? Read on to find out.

This blog post covers our first four boat movements after our generator work was done. From Oriental, NC to Albermarle Plantation Marina.

We found out we needed to put some hours on the generator before we left the Oriental area so Zimmermans could make sure everything was running well. They let us stay at the boat yard for that entire week, taking us up to Easter, March 31.

It was a lot of fun being in a working boatyard. We were docked adjacent to the travel lift so we saw many very nice boats come and go. Zimmermans does good work and they keep busy.

Old generator coming out of the boat. There is an arm on the travel lift. They drove the travel lift near our boat, extended the arm, hooked it on, and away it went.
Our new generator. We took this picture as we were heading out for a sight-seeing road trip. By the time we returned that afternoon, it was already sitting in the boat. We missed seeing it go in!
They had to do a short haul to make sure the intake for the generator looked good. It did.

While at the boatyard, we still had our car. A couple from church, John and Vonne, had picked us up in Oriental and had run us up to Northwest Creek Marina to get our car. Since we had the car, we did some sightseeing around Oriental and further afield.

One day we went to Bath, NC which is one of the oldest towns in the state. Blackbeard the pirate plied those waters. It is almost impossible to see the creeks which branch off the main Pamlico River until you are right upon them. The creeks were deep enough for the pirate ships and made good hidey holes.

Town dock in Bath, on a creek where Blackbeard used to hang out.
We found this water tank on the south side of the Pamlico. The local high school’s mascot is the Seahawks. Since we are Seattle Seahawks fans, we had to get a picture.

Another day we went back to New Bern and visited Tryon Palace, a reconstruction of the colonial palace that King George III had built when trying to establish colonial government in North Carolina. The building, exhibits and grounds were well worth the price of admission.

Barbara, our tour guide at Tryon Palace, was very entertaining as she told us about history, clothes, and other things of interest.

We drove to South Carolina to leave our car at Brenda’s brother’s place for the next year while we are doing the complete loop. Another couple from church, Rob and Judy, gave us a ride to Oriental from the rental car lot in New Bern. It is over a half hour drive from New Bern to Oriental, so these new friends really went out of their way to help us. We are very thankful for them.

Dinner with Byron and Holly in South Carolina

One of the reasons we wanted to stay in Oriental through Easter was to attend the community sunrise service at the park. We have enjoyed many sunrise services over the years and did not want to miss this one. Since we were carless at that point, we walked the .7 miles in the dark, with Lance carrying the lawn chairs.

Community Easter sunrise service in the park next to the Neuse River

After the sunrise service, the weather was perfect to get back out on the Neuse and get around to some more protected waters. When we came through that section last fall, the waves were bigger than we expected, so we were looking for a good weather window to get started on our official loop.

We will “cross our wake” when we get back around to the Neuse River, hopefully next spring.

We had some anchorages picked out south of the Pamlico River, but we saw that winds were coming in a couple of days. Instead of anchoring, we went to the RE Mayo dock, a journey of 25 miles.

RE Mayo is a seafood processing place that welcomes pleasure boaters to stay on their dock when there is space. They charge $.40/ft and ammenities include a restroom (no showers) when the office is open, a couple of 30 amp power hook-ups, fuel, and freshly frozen seafood in their store. They also have an extensive supply of things that boats need, mechanically, to service the shrimp boats that dock there. At $17.40 per night, it was a no-brainer to stay there. You could barely run your generator for that while anchored.

We stayed there five days through the strong winds. Another Looper boat, Mendocino, from Canada, pulled in the day after we arrived and also waited out those winds.

We took advantage of the inexpensive dockage at RE Mayo. We also bought some shrimp and had a delicious scampi dinner.
Our section of the dock at RE Mayo. The pirate ship seems to be a permanent resident.
Blessings Flow on the RE Mayo dock. Picture was taken by a fellow Looper passing by.
We were surprised to look out the window and see this cruise ship passing by. American Glory. The internet had her in Norfolk during this time period, so I’m not sure why she was down in Hobucken.

From RE Mayo in Hobucken, NC, our next stop was to be the Belhaven area of the Pungo River, some 23 miles up the way. You cross the Pamlico River on the way to the Pungo. The Pamlico is one of those that runs the direction of the prevailing winds and can get sporty if the wind has a long distance to build up the waves (it’s called “fetch” in boating terms).

We waited for a good day to cross the Pamlico. We had picked out a couple of anchorages near Belhaven and had also stopped on one of our road trips to check out the free dock in town, the “town dock”, and Belhaven Marina. We wanted, if possible, to be in Belhaven on a Saturday night so we could attend church there on Sunday. We had attended there on our way south and thought it would be fun to go again.

Well, the wind picked up again, the crossing was rolly on our beam, and the anchorages didn’t look very protected, so we decided to go into Belhaven Marina for a couple of nights. The free dock, when we saw it a couple weeks earlier, had abandoned sailboats in two of the slips and a dinghy tied across a third. With the way the wind was blowing, we didn’t want to back into the potential remaining slip. That free dock is also a really long walk to town.

Belhaven Marina

We knew the Belhaven Marina was a face dock, which is easier to dock at in wind, so we went there. Belhaven Marina is $1.89/ft plus electricity, but with free laundry. All three commercial Belhaven area marinas are right at that same price point and all three have free laundry. We stayed at Dowry Creek, one of the Belhaven area marinas, last fall and enjoyed our time there.

There is a town dock in Belhaven that costs only $1/ft, but does not come with any amenities. You pull into it to do your pumpout before heading over to Belhaven Marina. The basin the town dock is in seemed quite shallow for a boat of our size.

Sunset in Belhaven
Belhaven, NC. Found a mural. Had to take a selfie.
Belhaven Marina had a courtesy golf cart to get us to the grocery store. (Please disregard the wind-blown hair!)

After church on Sunday, we headed up the Pungo River and into the canal/cut which connects it to the Alligator River. I don’t know if it was because we left later in the day or if it is just early in the season, but we only saw one other boat on the 28 mile canal. Last fall, we were passed by fast boat after fast boat, and we ourselves passed a number of sailboats. It was a very pleasant 34 mile trip up to our anchorage where the canal comes to the Alligator River.

We arrived in good time to get the anchor set before dinner. After setting the anchor, we stay at the helm for a half-hour or more just to make sure we are not moving, that the anchor is not dragging. Lance sets an anchor alarm on his phone in the Aquamaps app and I set Navionics to record a track. If the anchor does not drag over night, the recorded track should look like a smile or a half-circle or a full-circle, depending on what the current and wind do.

A happy smile. The track from our overnight anchoring.

We got up very early the next morning to take advantage of several hours of no wind. We had to travel on the Albemarle Sound that day and the Albemarle is notorious for kicking up waves whenever the wind picks up.

Lance bringing up the anchor by headlamp. He will use the battery operated pressure washer to wash the mud from the anchor chain and rode before the rode goes down into the anchor locker.
Early morning start for a sailboat anchored near us
Bud, our autopilot, helps us drive in long, straight situations.
We had to wait for a swing bridge opening across the Alligator River. The pelicans like to sit on the bastion.

You remember how things had moved more quickly with the generator install and we were concerned because we had a long time to cover a relatively short distance? Well, once again we find that God is smarter than we are and knows the big picture, timing-wise.

Brenda’s mom needs some surgery, so Brenda is taking some time to fly home to help out.

We reached out to a couple of marinas to see if they could accomodate us while Brenda is gone and Lance stays with the boat. Albemarle Plantation Marina came back with a very reasonable weekly rate and the ability to get us to a rental car in Elizabeth City to get Brenda to the Norfolk airport.

We had a week or so before we needed to be at Albemarle Plantation, so we wrote out a plan of visiting two other towns on the Albemarle Sound before making our way to Albemarle Plantation (AP). But, you guessed it, the weather forecast didn’t play along. There were some very, very big winds forecast that would make it problematic to get to AP when we needed to be there. So rather than chancing it, straight to Albemarle Plantation Marina we went. 51 miles. The Albemarle was wonderful the day we were on it.

The very, very strong winds DID materialize later that week and that is a subject for another post.

Plans, written in sand…or at least with dry erase marker.