Thursday, October 13, 2016

More on the Albemarle Loop

This post is out of sequence thanks to the interruption of hurricane Matthew. I don't believe any of these facilities were damaged by the storm, but please call if you think you might go there sometime soon.

After a nice stop at the Albemarle Plantation marina, our next stop was Edenton, NC. It was less than a half day trip up the Albemarle to the dock at Edenton. The Edenton town dock is a relatively small facility with about a dozen slips and one small face dock (which is the only place a boat our size will fit and has a power pedestal).  The marina is protected by a sea wall that also serves as a fishing pier and was reportedly created with some old sections of a local highway bridge that had been replaced.

Edenton from the water.
The impressive part of this stop is what you get for free.  Two nights dockage is the norm in the loop. This marina also includes electricity in the offer, mediocre internet access, and has a courtesy car in case you need to go somewhere (like the grocery store) that isn't within walking distance. Like many courtesy cars, this one isn't the best vehicle but it does its job well enough.  The dash lights didn't work, but neither did the speedometer, so I guess the light isn't really needed.

The dock is adjacent to a public park, but there is a building that contains the dock master's office, public restrooms, and locked shower facilities reserved for boaters.  The facility is basic, but I've paid for marinas that have had much worse. The historic main street dead ends at the park, so the dock location for access the downtown shops and restaurants is ideal.

Edenton is a neat little town with a fair amount of American history.  It had a number of historic buildings including the oldest courthouse in North Carolina. The ladies of the town in the late 1700's were politically active and formed their own Tea Party (not to be confused with the current so called political group of the same name). The old Roanoke river lighthouse has made its home in the harbor right next to the docks.

The lighthouse and our boat at Edenton.
I really liked Edenton.  I've always heard Oriental was a great boating town, but I have to say that Edenton was more of what I had envisioned of Oriental and is certainly giving them a good run for the money as a boater friendly town.

After two nights in Edenton, we were on to our next stop.  Unfortunately, bridges deny us access to a couple of the stops on the loop as they are not 60 foot tall sailboat friendly. The next accessible port of call for us was Columbia. It was another half-day trip or so and is located across the Albemarle from the Albemarle Plantation marina. We arrived late on Sunday and Columbia is known to be pretty quiet on the weekends.  There was just enough space on the face dock to fit us (after a small motorboat that didn't use a slip left the spot). After looking around we found an after hours number posted on the bath house and were able to get the WiFi password so we could check on the weather and the status of Hurricane Matthew.

The Columbia Docks.
It didn't take us long to decide that we would have to cut our visit to Columbia short and seek a more sheltered location for the potential storm.  We walked into town and found a winery that had a coffee and sandwich shop for a quick dinner. As we walked back to the boat we noted a sign at the dock that marked the height of the water, a good foot and a half above the dock, from another hurricane that had visited the area in the past. Similar to Edenton, the dock is situated at the end of the old main street.  Unfortunately most shops were closed and we left early the next morning so we didn't get a good feel for this particular town.

View of Columbia main street from the docks.
We left early the following morning in order to make it as far south (and inland) as we could before the storm was to possibly arrive in the area.  We headed out of the Abemarle and into the Alligator river, through the bridge (that doesn't open if the winds go above 35 knots), down through the Alligator-Pungo canal and down the Pungo to Dowry Creek marina near Bellhaven.  As you have already read, this is where we ended up weathering the storm.

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