Anchorage Marina Silver Lake, Ocracoke, NC. As mentioned in February article, we tied up here overnight. We had excellent service from all the staff, who got us squared away with rental bikes and local knowledge.
The docks at Havens Wharf, Washington, NC, location of Carolina Wind charters. Photo by Jules Norwood of Carolina Wind (charter company used).
instruction on the water. Contact East Carolina Sailing to discuss courses taught onboard your charter vessel, including the official ASA courses: bareboat cruising, coastal navigation and advanced coastal cruising. Of unique note, North Carolina regulations governing bed and breakfast type operations make it prohibitive for charter operators to provide boat linens. Don’t think your chosen company is being chintzy; none of them are able to accommodate that request, but we’ve found it’s easy enough to bring what you need or buy cheap boat linens locally.
Surrounded by white sand and turquoise water, the Bight provides a setting unlike anything else you’re likely to find north of the Bahamas. A bonus is the offshore sail that beckons from just around the point. The bight is best enjoyed during the off-season as it can be a circus of day-trippers during the summer. Beaufort is a vibrant sailing town with a storied seafaring history. Plan an anchor stop in Taylor Creek and dinghy across to the Beaufort waterfront to soak up the ambiance in an eatery like the Spouter Inn or the Front Street Grill and Rhum Bar. The small towns of the Inner Banks, like Belhaven, Bath, Washington, Oriental, and New Bern, all provide a wonderful selection of history, attractions, supplies and amenities. There is much to enjoy in these delightful waterfront destinations that provide sheltered itinerary options in difficult weather. Docking facilities and overnight anchorages abound. There are countless salt marsh bays, freshwater creeks, bights and bends suitable for overnight stops while hopscotching between the area’s highlights. Some favorites include Silver Lake, Lookout Bight, Taylor Creek, Town Creek, Cedar Creek, Indian Island, Swan Quarter, Goose Creek, South River, Bay River and Bonner Bay. Tranquil seclusion is the order of the day—at least until you tie up dockside at the more developed and popular marinas.
Getting There If it’s too far to drive, fly in to Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern and rent a car or make arrangements with Shuttle Me transportation service. New Bern is currently served by Delta Connection and US Airways Express, with connections to major airports for convenient air travel. You may also consider flying into Raleigh-Durham and although the drive is longer, the difference in air fare might make this worthwhile. It’s worth noting that round trip air fare from Atlanta to St. Thomas, USVI, can cost about $904, whereas round-trip air fare into New Bern from Atlanta is about $280. You might want to factor that savings into the total cost when deciding where to spend your charter dollars.
Places to Visit: Sail the Sounds, the Banks or Offshore Quaint, yet modern waterfront towns with a historical connection to the seafaring lifestyle dot the shoreline of coastal North Carolina, and a warm, friendly welcome is evident with every landfall. Ocracoke, Beaufort and Lookout Bight are the jewels of the Outer Banks and are at most a two-day sail from the charter bases located in Washington and Oriental. Hatteras, Manteo and the Roanoke Island area offer a lot if you’re interested in exploring waters to the north and Albemarle Sound. The village of Ocracoke is a popular destination and its harbor, Silver Lake, is a great anchorage. Biking around the village in search of the best seafood and the coldest beer is a great way to spend a whole bunch of time. Plan at least one overnight, but understand that two nights barely scratch the surface. Lookout Bight, situated just six miles east of Beaufort Inlet, provides an anchorage of such natural beauty that it’s well worth the scenic miles you’ll travel to get there. 38
Activities Abound Beachcombing, shelling, fishing, birding, crabbing, biking, dining, treasure hunting, sightseeing, and historical study are all available at every turn. It’s not a question of, “Is there anything to do?” It’s a question of, “How do we do it all?” Good luck! Festivals, celebrations and fairs are held in the many waterfront towns and villages; a web search will help guide your planning. We were fortunate enough to stumble onto Washington’s 300th anniversary celebration and were treated to an open air concert on the waterfront performed by the North Carolina Symphony. Crabbing is great fun and is best May through October; however, the investment in chicken necks and string is cheap, so try it any time you’re anchored. Steamed in the galley and cracked in the cockpit, you’ll find fresh blue crab the perfect appetizer to accompany your sundowner. A North Carolina fishing license is required. www.southwindsmagazine.com