Yes, I have a bad case of sailing fever. We have not had the boat out of our dock since New Years Day. I tend to get antsy much more than Bryce. He is content to spend time each weekend on the boat fixing stuff, adding new equipment and generally just hanging around and breathing in her ambience. But unlike Bryce I like to get her out on the water and put her through her paces–get sails up, engine going, watch her track on the GPS and feel the breezes in my face.
So this weekend it actually looks like we are going to take the boat out of the dock. I am really not too picky about where we will go. I do enjoy driving her through the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island, which takes about five and a half hours if we are not bucking a head-wind. The island is so serene in March; no tourists; little ferry traffic on the one main street through town; just the sound of shore birds squawking over-head; the purr of a few boat engines as the local fishermen come back with their fresh catches of the day. The beaches are deserted and there are plenty of nice shells to collect. Few shops are open, just the grocery/hardware store and a couple of restaurants that the locals frequent. You can walk in the road and not worry about being mowed down by bicycles, trucks, cars, etc. with beeping horns to add to the caccaphony. Yes, I do love visiting this island in the off-season.
But then there is New Bern. I have always enjoyed this lovely river town in every season of the year. This is an easy sail up-river from Oriental. It is very protected water so we never see the waves like the Pamlico Sound can get when the wind is really whipping. It is a nice, easy “reach” up river. We turn on the outside speakers and play Jimmy Buffet tunes as we glide along at 5 knots soaking in the warm sunshine. The town comes into view about an hour before we arrive at the high-rise bridge that spans the river. We usually tie up at the Sheraton/Skysail Marina which makes traveling by foot around town very feasible. The marina has floating docks, wifi, lovely bathroom facilities for boaters, and a nice pool when the weather is warm. But we like the marina because it is only a block away from the down-town area. Bryce and I have our routines here. After we dock the boat we like to inquire about what is happening that day/evening in town. One year we arrived while there was a clown convention in town–yes, I said CLOWN. There were clowns everywhere and that evening we were treated to a show under the big top, each clown competing to be recognized for the funniest! Another year we happened upon an antique car show- there were over a hundred antique cars in the Sheraton’s parking lot and the owners were anxious to tell you all about each one. After we find out what is happening (and in the spring there is a wonderful azelea festival- I just don’t know the exact dates) we walk to our favorite coffee shop and get a large brew. Then we walk around town and try to decide which restaurant we should visit for lunch; there are several nice ones that we have tried and sometimes it is hard to make a decision. After lunch we usually go to the best hardware store in the state–I’m not joking–I love this place because it has so much more than just nails, hammers, and saws. They have a wonderful gardening section with quite a selection of goodies for the home gardener (I try, but I have a brown thumb!). They also have lots of pots, spoons, funnels, etc. for the “would-be chef” (yes, that’s me!). I also like to peek into the toy store (after all, I am a pediatric SLP and “big kid” at heart). Then it is on to the out-doors store that has stuff for those of us who like to camp, hike, ride horses, etc. And we hate to miss the neat boating store, the wine and cheese shop, the bakery, etc. So we certainly can make an afternoon of poking around town.
Then of course there is Beaufort. This is another easy motor-sail across the river and then up Adam’s Creek through the ICW (which becomes a narrow “ditch” after about an hour. So the sails come down and we motor along. It’s fun to look at the lovely houses backing onto this waterway. About three hours after leaving our dock we enter a bay and follow the markers under the Morehead City Bridge and around Radio Island and into Taylor’s Creek. The little seaside town of Beaufort is on our left and a couple of barrier islands on our right. Now we have to make a decision. Do we want to anchor in the creek along with about fifty to a hundred other boats or should be take a town dock that cozies up to the main street and all the action. Ah, decisions, decisions! In the summer-time it can get quite noisy on the docks, especially since several of the waterfront restaurants have live music every evening and folks just stand around on the boardwalk and participate. So summertime we often choose to put down a “hook” in the creek and take our chances with our neighbors. This time of year I would probably vote for a dock, just for the convenience of coming and going without having to put the dinghy into service.
So yes, I am very excited about leaving the dock this weekend–any of these choices could make me very happy. I’ll let you know in my next blog about what we chose to do. In the meantime, just keep thinking “sunny skies and moderate breezes” (no ‘small craft advisories’ or ‘gale force winds’). Helen (03/16/2010)