We are finishing out our time in North Carolina with stops in Oriental, Belhaven and Coinjock. Three places that before the Great Loop I had never heard of. The geography lesson continues! We haven’t done much this week. We had bad weather and/or winds to contend with Monday through Thursday so we’ve spent a lot of time waiting around. Thankfully we’ve been in places with lovely friendly people. I’m reminded again just how hospitable people in the south are!
We left Beaufort Sunday afternoon after looking at the forecast for Monday….and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it turns out. We pulled into a marina just past Oriental that got great reviews and had a pool! A definite plus if we are going to be stuck. We never actually went into Oriental. We pulled in Sunday in some high winds across a choppy Pamlico Sound and knew we had high winds for all day Monday as well. We got in too late to swim Sunday but after running to get groceries Monday the girls and I headed right for the pool. We knew storms were headed our way (seems to be our specialty lately) so I told them they could jump in until the storms arrived around noon. The sky looked menacing but the water felt great. We headed to the boat and did some school work during the storms and then when the rain cleared they headed right back into the pool. Around midnight there was a torrential storm and then the wind calmed and by the time we woke up Tuesday the water looked like glass.
Tuesday we set out across Pamlico Sound towards Belhaven. The water was gorgeous. We were blessed with amazing conditions after waiting out the wind and rain. We are in a stretch of waterways where we are going from river to sound to river to sound. A lot of these waterways are not like the narrow stretches of ICW that we’ve been on traveling up the coast. They are wide, large and unpredictable bodies of water very much like Lake Michigan and therefore must be treated as such. We have pored over wind and weather forecasts for these bodies of water. Tuesday we covered Pamlico Sound, the Pamlico River and part of the Pungo River and arrived in Belhaven. We again picked a marina just outside of town with great reviews and a pool.
The girls and I headed immediately to swim because after this one gorgeous day we knew that Wednesday and Thursday were bringing a cold front with high winds and more rain. So, we took our 80+ degrees and sunshine and ran with it. The pool was stocked with pool floats and one of them was the current resting place for a cute little frog. We watched him a bit and helped him jump off the float before jumping in the pool.
We did make it into town this time. Belhaven is VERY small. VERY. SMALL. We’ve been in a ton of small towns. This one was even smaller! One of the highlights was the Ace Hardware store. We head read it was a must stop. It’s not only a hardware store, but also sells clothes, crafts, greeting cards and some food and wine. It reminded me of Home Goods with a hardware store mixed in. Bizarre! We covered all of town in under an hour. We had been told by Ben’s aunt that the museum in City Hall was interesting. Go figure it was closed on Wednesday when we went into town! A number of other boats pulled into the marina including three other boats doing the loop. We haven’t been with other loopers in awhile so it was fun to have others to hang out with. But it did mean sharing the courtesy car so we didn’t make it back to the museum. We did share the car for dinner Wednesday night and made it to Spoon River. A farm to fork restaurant right here in tiny Belhaven. It was delicious and they treated the girls like royalty! What a treat to have an amazing meal.
After it rained almost all of Thursday with gusty winds the skies finally cleared. All of the boaters gathered in the clubhouse last night and had a great time visiting and stretching our legs a bit. This morning as predicted it was once again beautiful. We were again treated to a pretty great day after waiting out the bad weather. More bodies of water to cross today. We set out this morning for the 80+ mile run to Coinjock, NC. We continued up the Pungo River to “the ditch”. This is a skinny section of water with land very close on both sides that connects the Pungo River to the Alligator River. Forecasts for the Pungo and Alligator rivers and the Albemarle Sound were all pretty good. We made it through the ditch and the Alligator with no issues. It was gorgeous out once again and Molly and I finished another puzzle!
The girls and I covered a lot of ground on school today and decided Monday will be our official last day for the year. We’ll still do some work a couple of days a week over the summer but Molly really wants to have an official last day, so Monday it is! They both finished their math books a couple of weeks ago and we finished the novel Molly and I were reading today so we’re wrapping things up nicely for summer. I wanted school for the day done before we hit the Albemarle.
The Albemarle was not too bad but not too great. The wind picked up and it’s a big sound. We took a couple of hours to cross it and saw how hard the Seakeeper (our stabilizer) worked today. The girls don’t spend much time up on the flybridge. They tend to stay downstairs and play with dolls, legos, slime, playdough, or watch YouTube and Netflix instead of enjoying the water around them. To their credit, it’s usually blazing hot upstairs and they have to wear hot life vests. So, air conditioning it is. But when the water gets rough everyone comes up. Molly next to me. Maddy in my lap. Molly gets sick. Maddy gets scared. Ben turned on the engine room camera that shows the seakeeper working. They love watching it and how much it rolls and turns to keep us level. It worked hard today as waves were hitting us from the side. The waves weren’t that big but enough to toss us around and feel the motion. Ben was fine. The rest of us had had enough and were very happy to enter the North River.
We made it the short distance up the North River and tied up at Coinjock marina. Friends have been telling us about Coinjock since September. People tell us places not to miss all the time and it’s so hard to file it all away, but Coinjock was one that got mentioned over and over. I see why. It’s just a fun place. It’s nothing but a long face dock with a good store and great bar and restaurant. Their claim to fame is that you order your prime rib ahead of time when you book your slip. They have a 16 oz. and a 32 oz. prime rib. Ben’s the only serious meat eater in our group so I reserved him a 16 oz. prime rib for dinner. We are docked directly in front of the restaurant. The food was good – their fish is as good as the prime rib! Once again the entire marina has the friendliest people. There’s a live band right outside our door. After dinner we let the girls hang out for a bit and listen before bed. We’re just here for tonight but were pleasantly surprised. What a fun stop. Life is good.
Tomorrow we leave North Carolina and cross into Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. We’re planning to head to Hampton, VA for a few days and will then meet the Burnetts for a visit mid week! We’re so excited – it’s been six months since we last saw them and we miss them so much. Molly’s birthday is next weekend and they are driving a long way to be here to help her celebrate!