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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Goose Creek and Pamlico Plantation

Good friends, Wayne and Janet, let us boondock in their driveway for a couple of nights and showed us  some interesting spots in eastern NC.

Wayne suggested we explore nearby Goose Creek State Park. We practically had the place to ourselves, seeing only two other people that morning. Live oaks provided shade while a breeze from the river kept the bugs at bay.
 Rangers in the visitor's center were helpful in identifying the flowers we found along the trail as Butterfly Peas.
 The primitive campground has a dock for kayaks and canoes. Sites were shaded with nice views of the river and bays. The only services were a couple of composting toilets and shared water spigots. Only one campsite had a tent pitched in it.

A recent bond will allow for a new, full-service, RV campground closer to the front of he park. Construction begins in 2017.
Good signage, like this one showing the Canoe Trail, talks about history, natural features, and the environment along park trails.
 Storm surge and flooding from hurricanes revealed the root structure of this tree.
From Goose Creek we drove east to Belhaven for lunch. After enjoying fresh shrimp at Fishhooks, we relaxed in the Gazebo at the Belhaven Waterway Marina.  The marina has one of the few remaining marine railways in the state and some of the friendliest owners on the ICW.
While in Belhaven, it was great to see the classic River Forest Manor being restored after years of neglect. When we stopped here under sail in 2006, it had fallen into disrepair. Today, Janet and Beth relaxed in rocking chairs under the shade of the porch while Wayne and I walked back to fetch the car.
After a second relaxing night in the driveway, Wayne invited me to join him for breakfast with the Pamlico Amateur Radio Club in Chocowinity. The guys were welcoming and the cheese biscuits were fresh and a bargain.

Returning to Pamlico Plantation, Wayne gave us a tour of the docks and even a few of the condominiums. The facilities here are really first rate. It was great to see Wind Drift again; Wayne & Janet's Hunter sailboat.

Found this tiny classic looking Ranger tugboat while walking the docks. It would be a fun electric conversion project and might even be trailerable behind the van.
We left our great driveway camping spot after lunch and headed back to Durham to get a break from the heat.  Many thanks to Janet and Wayne for sharing their special spot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Washington & Bath

Driving north along North Carolina's Inner Banks (IBX) leads to interesting small towns with nautical and historical flair. One of our favorites is Washington, referred to as "Original Washington" by the residents so as not to confuse it with the District of Columbia.

 The Pamlico riverfront has free dockage, free parking, and an inviting boardwalk with benches and playgrounds. There was even room for Intuition with Three Bananas tagging along behind.
Beautifully restored homes such as this one can be seen strolling the neighborhoods along the river.
Buoys were once refurbished at the coast guard station which has since been repurposed as condos with boat slips just six steps down from the first floor.
View from the Buoy Station condominiums.
 Blue crabs are celebrated, as are the arts, by local sculpture artists.
 The Pamlico sailing club has active youth programs. Docks and a boardwalk through the marsh border the NC Estuarium, an interesting museum dedicated to the environment and history of the local sounds.

 Local weather conditions are displayed by weather flags on this metal tower. The white flag is for "Fair" weather. There wasn't anything to tell us that the temperature and humidity were both above ninety!
New condos are sprouting behind the preserved marsh and boardwalk.
Not far down the road, the town of Bath boasts the status as the first town and first port in the state. The town historical commission has preserved several older homes and has a visitor's center.

Beth napped in the camper in the shade of this old oak while I explored the town. Residents were very friendly and volunteered all kinds of information about the town's history. Golf carts seem to be the preferred method of getting around town.
No mention of Bath would be complete without the name Edward Teach, a/k/a Blackbeard who lived here in the early 1700's and was killed on nearby Ocracoke Island.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cedar Point Campground

A few of us on the Bear Island adventure elected to camp at the nearby Cedar Point Campground in the Croatan National Forest. Large, partially shaded, sites with electricity were $30 a night including the transaction fees. The campground was full over the weekend, so reservations are recommended.

A fishing pier and small boat ramp are just past the campground entrance. Three parking spaces for vehicles with trailers are very short.

The small parking lot also serves the "Tideland Trail" consisting of two loops with boardwalks and gravel paths that traverse the salt marsh. The longer loop skirts the White Oak River and travels in and out of coastal evergreen forest. We visited close to low tide and enjoyed the colonies of fiddler crabs running in and out on the mud flats.

We would stay here again when visiting the Swansboro area.

Egret fishing in the Salt Marsh
 Salt Marsh
 Fiddler Crabs
Blue Crab in the grey mud

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bear Island Adventure

Photo by Luis Lopez
We were invited to go on an outing to Bear Island with the Raleigh Sail and Power Squadron. Having passed this park on several ICW trips in Intuition with a draft too deep to approach the island, we were excited about finally visiting. Most of the group of nine paddlers started from Hammocks Beach State Park where there is a launch area for kayaks and canoes. We launched from the Wildlife ramp in Cedar Point because our 18' Hobie Tandem Island is heavier than the average kayak. Being the first time we launched using the Sprinter Van as a tow vehicle, it took us longer than usual. A 22' van backs differently than a little Honda CR-V! We can't even see the boat and trailer out the back window. By the time we had the boat in the water, there weren't any remaining parking spaces. We waited about 45 minutes for an early morning fisherman to come back in and open up a space in the parking lot. If you go, go early and make sure there are spots to park before launching.

Even with the delay, we caught up to the RSPS kayaks because we have a sail. Our advantage didn't last though. As the tide approached low, we had to furl the sail, pull up the keel and rudder, and paddle over the shallows. A few spots even necessitated getting out and pulling the boat.  No real problems, it just added to the adventure.

Pulling up on the lee side of the island, there was only a short walk over the dune to powder white sand and the Atlantic ocean.

About a mile down the beach, the visitors center, restrooms, and picnic gazebos were a perfect spot for a picnic in the shade. Since it was after Labor Day, we had the area virtually to ourselves.
Photo by Luis Lopez

After enjoying picnic lunches and getting to know the other crews, we headed back to the mainland. Being closer to high tide, we unfurled the sail and zipped back across the sound to the ICW and launch at Cedar Point. We didn't have to pedal until just before the dock where the outflowing current overcame the wind.

Photo by Luis Lopez
After cleaning up, the group assembled on a deck overlooking the intracoastal waterway. Everyone brought appetizers and then we enjoyed pizza together as the sun set. Thank you to Wilbur and Morgan for hosting the get-together.

Special thanks are due to Luis and Patricia for organizing this fun weekend.

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