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ICW Trip 2001 Leg 7&8 Elizabeth City to Belhaven NC MM 135

Sailing up the Alligator River


View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Friday 2 November 2001 (continued)

As we came out of the Pasquotank River into Albemarle Sound, we could see the line of boats to the east coming from the VA cut route. The waves, if any, were 3 to 6 inches and not 2 feet. There was about 8 or 9 knots of wind, so Bob put up the staysail. After we crossed Albemarle Sound, we entered the Alligator River. US Route 64 - one of the main highways going to the Outer Banks crosses near the mouth of the Alligator River on a Swing Bridge.
Map of Albemarle Sound and the Alligator River NWR

Map of Albemarle Sound and the Alligator River NWR


At the western end of the bridge is a gas station/souvenir /truck stop kind of place which is ALSO a marina. It's one of the cheapest docks on the ICW and also the fuel is a decent price. So right after we entered the Alligator River we went into the Alligator River Marina. We got fuel for $.959/gal. (It would have been cheaper if we had gotten more)

Aerial photo of the marina on the wall of the restaurant

Aerial photo of the marina on the wall of the restaurant

This marina has 34 transient slips, fixed docks with finger piers. They accept reservations, VISA/MC, Discover and Texaco. Pets are welcome - there is a dog walking area. Dockage is $1/ft/day with $4.00/day for 30 amp electric. There is free cable, but very few channels. The boaters lounge has 4 toilets and showers. There are also washers and dryers - cold water only. Pay phones are available and you can hook a laptop up to the internet provided you have an 800# you can use as there are no local numbers. Ice and propane are also for sale, and there is trash disposal, a launch ramp, grills, picnic area.

We had dinner at the truck stop. My son the trucker said a real truck stop would have dinners from $4 to 7 (which they pretty much did.) The menu was limited but the food was good. They also sell real ice cream for cones. The grille serves breakfast and lunch, and the grille cook is on duty until about 6 (so you have to eat dinner early). Sometimes the cook is a little grumpy.

You order, and go sit down and he brings your food out to you. Most of us had NC barbecue (vinegar based, not tomato based) but Lucette had a fried oyster sandwich. I'll have to remember that I'm not fond of NC BBQ. Dinner for the two of us was $15, and I got ice cream which was $1.52. While we ate, we watched the weather channel.

Saturday 3 November 2001

Everyone that was here last night (including the trawler with the cat that walked on a leash) has left. But we stayed here another night - it is cheap, and we want to get into Belhaven during the week so that things will be open. Bob washed the whole boat, Lucette and Max did their wash, and we got showers. You have to be careful when you take a shower. The lights are on a timer, and if you don't give yourself enough time you are likely to end up wet and soapy in the dark - there are NO WINDOWS in there.

We had dinner on the boat - Bob fried ham. Some more people came in - CASSIOPEIA from Canada, and POLARIS JACK - they were at a New York city marina on 9-11.

Sunday 4 November 2001 - Sailing up the Alligator on my 64th birthday

We got underway early. CASSIOPEIA left the marina first, and then just before we backed out of our slip, the Island Packet POLARIS JACK came out and then behind us was the power boat from Cobb Island.
01-747203.jpgAlligator River Swing Bridge

Alligator River Swing Bridge


We were all under the bridge by 7:20. It was cloudy, and the wind was about 18
knots, so after we went through the swing bridge Bob pulled out the jib and we motor sailed just like CASSEOPIA was doing.
Cassiopea sailing

Cassiopea sailing


I took a digital picture of CASSIOPEIA thinking I would give them a copy, but never saw them close up again (We did see them in Elliot's Cut in Charleston - but that wasn't a place we could stop and say Hi)

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is on the east side of the Alligator (the marina is across the river on the west side). Much of it is accessible only by water

Are there actual alligators there?
Alligator River Refuge

Alligator River Refuge


The website says:

"Many species of wildlife call Alligator River home. The Refuge and it's surrounding waters support many resident and migratory species of wildlife. Of these, 48 are fish, 200 are birds, 48 are reptiles and amphibians, and 40 are mammals. The Refuge supports wildlife species which are important from both a regional and a national standpoint. Its large size and dense vegetation make the Refuge a haven for species which avoid man, such as the black bear. Also, the Refuge harbors many species adapted to living in forested habitat, as opposed to disturbed areas, such as field edges. Many neotropical migrants, such as prothonotary warblers, black-throated green warblers, prairie warblers, Swainson's warblers, worm-eating warblers, and red-eyed vireos, nest in the thick pocosin vegetation. Wood ducks, barred owls, and other cavity nesters seek the old trees found in this large expansive forested area."

There may be alligators or there may have been alligators in the river but I suspect they are relatively rare.

We turned into the Alligator Pungo canal at 10:15,
Edge of the canal

Edge of the canal


and furled the jib as there was no useful wind. This section of the canal is desolate as the trees are just recovering from having been burned over.
Banks of the canal

Banks of the canal


There are lots of stumps and downed trees which sometimes slide into the canal catch unwary boats and damage them. We went under the new fixed bridge.
New fixed bridge

New fixed bridge


I cooked bacon and Lucette made BLT sandwiches using the last of the rye bread from the bakery in Elizabeth City. After lunch, Bob put up the staysail. The sky cleared and it warmed up.

We were at Belhaven and went into Robb's marina by 3:00 pm, after 54.2 miles at an average of 6.8 mph.

Originally named Jack’s Neck, Belhaven was once a bustling industrial town with a half-dozen lumber companies and a branch of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad.
Old postcard view

Old postcard view


Now, Belhaven is a waterfront town.
Free dock near River Forest

Free dock near River Forest


The town dock can not be used overnight (according to the sign) and while it may be a rumor that boats there will be confiscated. I wouldn't want to test it. So you need to go into a marina or else anchor out.

Robb's Marina (The actual name of the marina was Marlen C. Robb & Son Boatyard & Marina.) was hated by many people partly because of the owner and/or former employee. We've stayed there 3 times because it is cheap, and have never had a problem with them. They had good cheap washing machines (75 cents a load and there was also a full laundromat 2 blocks away), nice showers, and would allow the use of the fax line to download email provided you had an 800 # as there are NO local ISPs.
Marina building

Marina building


The fuel was also pretty reasonable. All the docks were face docks (no slips), and the dock girl dragged the hoses down to you where you are at the dock. You didn't have to go to a separate fuel dock.

They also had a small marine store and it was easy to walk out into town to go to restaurants. There was a yard associated with the marina, where people often have to stop and have repairs because of dead heads etc in the Alligator Pungo Canal.

Since it was Sunday, the only place open for dinner was River's End, so we walked down there and had the buffet.
River Forest from the street

River Forest from the street


The River Forest house is very pretty. It dates from 1899, when John Aaron Wilkinson, President of J.L. Roper Lumber Company and Vice-President of Norfolk & Southern Railroad, began building the Victorian mansion known today as the River Forest Manor. Their website says:
Lobby

Lobby


Italian craftsmen were called in to carve the ornate ceilings, and by 1904, the mansion was complete – with carved oak mantels for each of the eleven fireplaces, sparkling cut glass leaded into windows, crystal chandeliers glittering from the ceilings, tapestry placed above the mahogany wainscoting in the dining room and two baths so large that they included oversized tubs for two. Eight years after the completion of his showplace, Wilkinson married a beautiful New Yorker who shared the house with him for many years.
River Forest door detail

River Forest door detail


"Specialties include many Southern style, mouth -watering dishes. Seafood delights such as crabmeat casserole, oyster fritters, and unique homemade sausages & desserts."

I actually found the buffet rather ordinary. The service was very rushed (but cheerful and apologetic) and the place was very crowded. It was OK, but not special. Two dinners were $39.97.

The marina was oversold, so they had to put people on the slip going into the travelift. There was a group of power boats that came in behind us - none of them had been down the ICW before except one guy who led a group down each year. There was also a sailboat from La Plata. I talked to the wife and she was a little concerned about the weather because it was her first time down the ICW.
At the dock at Robb's Marina

At the dock at Robb's Marina


The boat in front of us flying a pirate flag was having engine trouble, and Bob lent them some wrenches, but they had more serious problems. Bunch of guys - plenty of beer on that boat, but no food. And no charts for the places they intend to go. They don't even know about Frying Pan Shoals, and they were going out at Beaufort and come in the Cape Fear River.

Monday, 5 November 2001

The weather was predicted to be lively but the boat from La Plata left anyway. Bob did the wash, and we talked to folks. At about 12, we went to lunch at the Helmsman. and then went to Eva Blount Way's museum. This is about the only thing to "do" in town.
Bob sitting in front of museum with a sign

Bob sitting in front of museum with a sign

Flag on top of the Museum/town hall/police station

Flag on top of the Museum/town hall/police station


Eva Blount Way began her collection with a collection of buttons she inherited and she added to it until she had 80,000. I was particularly interested in the button collection because my grandmother also collected buttons.
The collection that started it all

The collection that started it all


I was also interested in the museum because Bob's family has Blounts in it way back.

Some of the 80,000 buttons at the museum

Some of the 80,000 buttons at the museum

The museum also includes old coins, shells, early American kitchenware, furniture, old farm tools, Civil War guns and World War helmets. Other items on display range from rocks and stones from Will Roger’s stable and the Wall of Jericho to three prenatal babies in jars (given to Mrs. Way by the town doctor), an 8 legged pig, several snakes killed by Mrs. Way; one stuffed, swallowing a wooden egg, another made into a necktie, a dress worn by a local 700-pound woman (she died in bed and had to be craned out the window), a ten-inch-wide ball of string (saved by Mrs. Way), a flea bride and groom (may be viewed with a magnifying glass), and jars of Mrs. Way's home canned products (now well over 30 years old). The museum sells souvenir cookbooks. Mrs. Way started showing her collection in her own home as a way to raise money for the Red Cross. It is now housed in the Town Hall which is on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.
Dollhouse

Dollhouse


The website says it is open 1-5 PM every day except Wednesday except on major holidays, but that doesn't include Saturday or Sunday, as it is not open on weekends. Also 1 pm is somewhat flexible - it opens when the attendant gets there. Free, but donations desired.
Town Hall, Police Station and Museum

Town Hall, Police Station and Museum


The museum is in what I think used to be a school. It is upstairs in what looks like it used to be the gym. Looking at the building, the entrance to the museum is the gray door up the steps on the left, the center door is the City Hall, and the right door is the Police Station. Next to the police station is one of about 3 pay phones in town.
Main street in front of the town hall

Main street in front of the town hall


The curator did get there and the museum was very interesting.

jcnctravel from VirtualTourist wrote:

The museum began as a theatre & was converted to gym. HS games were played there in the early 50's. My basketball team practiced there late 50's. Mrs. Way was my next door neighbor. I helped her preserve some of the snakes.


Max and Lucette weren't interested in the museum and didn't go. They took an electric golf cart to the Food Lion. There is no grocery store right in town. The Food Lion doesn't count even if it is in the town limits because it is a right good walk from a boat. Bob walked. On the way back, Max and Lucette came across Bob and Carol from a big ketch named CAROLINA which was anchored out. They had taken their propane bottle to be refilled and were struggling back to the boat with it, and Max and Lucette gave them a lift - it was pretty heavy and they were grateful.

Travel lift

Travel lift


A huge catamaran THE HIGHLANDER (dinghy was named (HAGGIS) which had been in the yard repairing their rudder which had been damaged and was being put back in the water.. Owner was a Scot, and two crew were Canadian and Australian. The boats in the travelift slip had to be moved in order for them to put this boat into the water. Later I found a web page about this boat called The Usual Suspects. I sent them a couple of my photos.

The HIGHLANDER on the Travel lift

The HIGHLANDER on the Travel lift

What happened (from the Usual Suspects site)

Minor disaster. On Mon in Alligator River Canal going south, a large fast barge going north moving north created large waves. Our starboard rudder crashed down on a deadhead bending it back & up into the hull. We had to lower the rudder post to clear it from the hull then proceeded to Robbs Boatyard in Belhaven,NC. They have a travel lift wide enough to lift Highlander. The result showed a wrecked rudder & a substantial hole in the hull, fortunately in a watertight section. We will get a replacement rudder from PDQ tomorrow & the glasswork should be completed by Sunday.

While we were in Belhaven, the small cruise ship AMERICAN EAGLE came in to the dock and to get fuel. (They gave them a discount on the fuel.) It takes the American Eagle quite a long time to fuel up. Many of the passengers got off to walk around town. Some got the electric carts. However there isn’t much to the town. There are only 3 or 4 pay phone booths in Belhaven, and there are all of two traffic lights and no gas stations right in town. So they soon came back to the ship.

There are a surprising number of privately owned electric cars in town. If you borrow a golf cart from a marina, note that the speed limit in town is 25 mph, even though the street is wide and there's little traffic. The police will ticket and tow the carts if they are out after dusk so you can't use one to go to dinner in the winter when dusk is around 5:30

American Eagle getting fuel

American Eagle getting fuel

We went to the Helmsman again that night and it cost the two of us $28.26 including tip.

After six hurricanes in four years descended upon the town of Belhaven - seven, if you consider that one of the storms visit twice - (Bertha, Fran, and Josephine and then Bonnie, Dennis twice, and Floyd), with flooding up to four feet, the town has gotten some kind of funding from FEMA to raise all the houses up.
The door post in the Helmsman with 6 high water marks on it - going from bottom to top is Isabel, Bonnie, Dennis, Bertha, Fran, Floyd

The door post in the Helmsman with 6 high water marks on it - going from bottom to top is Isabel, Bonnie, Dennis, Bertha, Fran, Floyd



Tuesday 6 November 2001

We got under way very early, (AMERICAN EAGLE came out of the channel just after us, and so did the HIGHLANDER - they both passed us pretty quickly)
Marker at river entrance with another boat

Marker at river entrance with another boat

Next stop Oriental

Posted by greatgrandmaR 10:39 Archived in USA Tagged marina museum sailing belhaven Comments (0)

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