Pungo River to Wrightsville Beach, NC

Pungo River, NC, to Nettings on Back River, NC

October 20, 2003

We were almost embarrassed that we were the last boat to leave the anchorage that morning.  Our trip down the Pungo River was uneventful, managing to motor-sail a little bit but mainly just powering south.

We’ were tempted to stop in Belhaven overnight but, with stiff winds in the forecast, decided to head directly to the Nettings where we’d stay for a few days.  We did need fuel, however, and stopped there to top off the tank.  We tied up at the first marina inside the breakwater, noticing that the planking on the dock was all brand new.  Turns out that the dock had been ruined in Isabel.

Sandy couldn’t resist a picture of the thousands of gulls that rested on top of the rock jetty adjacent to the marina.  With no apparent reason they all took off at once only to slowly settle back down on the same jetty.  We also talked to Valerie and Roger aboard their CS 33, Talisman II, who we’d briefly met in Elizabeth City.  They planned to hole up in Belhaven for the blow and repair a hole in their inflatable dinghy.

After fueling, we toured the harbor and saw heavy damage to all of the marinas.  Especially hard hit was Robb’s Marina.  On the market since before June, apparently there had been no effort to make any repairs so we saw first hand how extensive the damage was.

After negotiating the Pungo River Canal, we emerged in Back  River and headed a few miles off the ICW to the home of Dave and Sandy Netting.  We’d been unable to raise them on the phone but got a radio call from them as we were approaching their creek.  They’d just returned home from a trip.  Dave talked us into the creek and we tied up next to the dock and their O’Day 35, Glory.

Tied Up at Nettings
Tied Up at Nettings

Glory looked resplendent in a new coat of navy blue paint, new cove stripe and name graphics.  Dave had done the work himself this summer and his craftsmanship was evident!

After dinner that evening we viewed an outstanding video of the hurricane– wind waves and water from Isabel.  Since the eye of the storm passed over their house, we saw the water blow in and, a few hours later, blow back out.  Glory was tied in her slip with five anchors holding her away from the dock and stabilizing her fore and aft.  Not a scratch!

Dave and Sandy are not strangers to hurricanes in this location.  But Isabel amazed even them, putting about two feet of water into their garage and a bit less into the storage area under their home.  It was a mess to clean up but, you’d never know there had been high water by the time we got there.

Nettings on Back River, NC

October 21 & 22, 2003

Our stop at Nettings was well timed.  The wind came up as predicted and it would have been a very rough two days had we opted to continue south.  Besides, we were ahead of schedule and had to resist the temptation to “achieve” fast progress heading south.

The two days were filled with a visit, by car, to Oriental, a popular ICW stop, looking at xc-skiing photos that we carry with us, briefings of ICW favorites and not-so-favorites, advice on sailing the Bahamas, recipe exchanges and grocery shopping.  They even loaned us an extra large anchor and rode, a couple of cruising guides and a fly that will allow us to keep the forward hatch open on rainy days.

(Guess we’ll just have to stop by, again, on our way north to return them.)

Nettings on Back River, NC, to Beaufort, NC

October 23, 2003

The winds died on schedule as we got ready to depart on our way south … destination Beaufort, NC.  Leaving the Neuse River and entering Adams Creek we found quite a bit of damage with a couple of houses completely destroyed and several fishing boats stranded high and dry on the banks of the creek.

We motor-sailed for about an hour.  Otherwise, we made lots of hot water and the batteries were completely charged on arrival.  We passed through the Beaufort draw bridge and entered the anchorage.  There, we found quite a crowd and ended up being offered a private mooring that made anchoring very easy!

That evening we walked the town a bit, mailed some letters and returned to the boat.  Dinner was grilled chicken with all the fixin’s.

Beaufort, NC

October 24, 2003

Bill awoke to the sound of nearby boaters raising anchors to head south.  He went out to watch and noticed the boat next to us (a single hander) was having some difficulty.  When he powered forward to dislodge his anchor it caused OUR boat to move as well.  He was hooked to one of the three anchors that made up our borrowed mooring.  Using his windlass, he slowly lifted his anchor above the water and then managed to lift off the heavy rope and chain that was part of the mooring. Free at last!

Anchorage at Beaufort, NC
Anchorage at Beaufort, NC

We dinghyed to shore for Sandy’s walk, Bill’s coffee (Bill’s knee is still too sore for aggressive walking—ha!) and breakfast at The Soda Fountain right on the waterfront.  After doing some correspondence, we returned to town for showers and found Osprey tying up (friends from our home marina).  We arranged to get together for dinner that evening.  Sandy strolled through the shops and then met Bill at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.  Nice museum with a working boat building.  That evening we had a delicious seafood dinner with Bill & Susan at the Net House, visited them aboard Osprey and then returned to Whistwind to settle down for the night.

Beaufort, NC, to Mile Hammock Bay, Camp Lejeune

October 25, 2003

We were both up by 6:30 a.m.   That’s early for Sandy!  We lifted anchored at exactly 7:00 a.m. and powered out the cut along with many large (and small) fishing boats.  The morning was very overcast but pretty mild with light headwinds.  By 10:00 a.m. we had a heavy drizzle on us which continued through early afternoon.  Sandy did some cleaning  below, while Bill handled the outside activities.

By 1:30 we had entered Mile Hammock Bay in Camp Lejeune.  This is a dredged cove with a large ramp used by base personnel for recreational boating and occasional military exercises.  There was only one other boat anchored when we arrived.  The anchorage began to fill up as the day progressed until there were twelve sail and four power boats for the night.

Sunset in Mile Hammock Bay
Sunset in Mile Hammock Bay

All was quiet that evening … no military exercises … and we slept soundly.

Mile Hammock Bay, Camp Lejeune to Wrightsville Beach, NC

October 26, 2003

Another early departure, 4th boat out of the anchorage, and we were on our way on another 40 mile day to Wrightsville Beach.  We’re well out of the non-tidal back bay waters of northern NC and into tidal sounds.  Here the current alternately pushes you along and hinders your progress as you pass large and small inlets.  At times we did in excess of 9 mph, at others about 5.  There really isn’t a good way to predict what will be happening so you just go and live with the result.

About 1:00 we arrived in the anchorage in Wrightsville Beach.  This is a major beach resort, filled with young surfers and the Sunday, weekend, crowd was much in evidence.  The beach is reputed to be one of the nicest along the eastern seaboard and a short dinghy ride and 1½ block walk put us right there.  Arriving at the municipal dinghy dock, we met Jim and Laura McFayden (Jim and his ex-wife write occasional articles published in sailing magazines.) who regularly sail their Tayana 37, Diva, to the Bahamas.  Sandy walked the beach at her usual exercise pace while Bill explored the nearby streets.

We plan to stay here for several days to enjoy the town and to wait out some disagreeable weather forecast for tomorrow.