Woo Hoo! We leave on our Great Loop Trip!

7 Days Looping
295.6 Nautical Miles Total (340.2 Statute Miles)
295.6 Nautical Miles This Week
28.5 Hours Underway This Week
10.6 NMph Average Speed

(Reminder: You can click on pictures to enlarge them)

Monday – April 15th – 52 NM – To: Holden Beach, NC
Sunday night we slept on the boat so that we could get an early start. We cast off at 8:00 on Monday morning and went to the Fuel dock at Wacca Wache to top off the tanks. After filling up and saying goodbye to the crew, we turned north and headed for Holden Beach. Our first-day blog post is here: Day 1 – April 15th

Tuesday – April 16th – 54.2 NM – To: Surf City, NC
After a nice evening with our friends Robert & Diane, we cast off at about 9:30 for Surf City. The weather was cool, but clear and had very little wind. We went through Southport, NC, and headed up the Cape Fear River. The river was a bit choppy, but we ran fast passing a few slower boats and the shipping ports.

Cape Fear River
Ships in port in Wilmington, NC

After the Cape Fear River, we were able to run pretty smoothly. When we reached Wrightsville Beach, we had forgotten to prepare for the drawbridge, so there was a bit of a scramble to find channels and bridge names. Fortunately, we arrived just before the hour & half hour opening and didn’t have to wait long. While we were waiting for the bridge to open, a dingy came alongside, and Tim & Tawnya from “It Is Well” who we had met at the Charleston event a few days before, yelled hello. They were anchored around the corner and we were heading to get lunch.

After the bridge, it was a quick run-up to Surf City, past some osprey nests. The swing bridge at Surf City has been replaced with a tall bridge, so we were able to cruise into Topsail Island Marina, back in, and tie up by 3:00.

Osprey on a channel marker
Docked at Surf City, NC

At Topsail we met two other Loop boats, “Doug Out” and “Nectar”. The evening was a bit loud, as we were very near Camp Lejeune and had a lot of loud military helicopter traffic overhead.

Lots of neat military helicopters.

We took a walk toward the beach, had dinner at a waterfront restaurant, and returned to the boat to settle in for the night. As we were returning, the moon was rising over the ocean and we were able to get a great picture, of “Doug Out”, “KSF”, and “Nectar” at the dock.

Wednesday – April 17th – 52.8 NM – To: Beaufort, NC
Wednesday was a nice day, a little warmer and we left a little early at 8:00 so that we could get through the New River inlet (which has a history of shallow water) during high tide. We made it through without issue and entered the waterway through Camp Lejeune.

We could hear the thud of artillery practice coming from the camp. We reached the swing bridge for Onslow Beach, (in camp Lejeune) in plenty of time for the opening, and waited a few minutes for “Doxie” a boat we had passed on Tuesday to catch up and make the opening.

We traveled through Bogue Sound on the way to Beaufort. The last time we when through here northbound we grounded and bent our propeller. This time, it was an easy crossing. As we approached Beaufort, we saw 4 fast-moving boats heading toward us. As they got close, we saw that they were Army Jet Boats. They zipped past us at high speed, hardly throwing a wake.

Army Jet Boats

When we reached Beaufort, we passed the main harbor and headed up a side channel to Homer Smiths Docks, our marina for the night. We hailed them on the radio but didn’t get a response, so headed in to see if we could see someone on the docks and still didn’t see anyone, and decided to call on the phone. While doing that, we drifted a bit out of the channel and touched the bottom. The dockmaster answered the phone and directed us to our slip. We were able to back out without any problem, just some churned-up mud. (He thanked us for the free dredging.)

Homer Smiths Docks is a working fishing dock with a marina attached. Brand new docks and excellent facilities. We checked in at the office, took a peek in the ice house, and headed back to settle in.

When we got back to the boat, we received a message on NEBO. (NEBO, is an app for boaters that allows you to track and leave messages for other boats in your area or who are also on the Loop.) Herb Seaton, who is famous on the Looper forum, invited us to docktails on his boat “Phantom” which was docked in downtown Beaufort. We walked the mile or so to downtown, passing Bulls Prop Shop (where we had our propellers fixed last time), and a Diving School, with an interesting message on their board.

While on Phantom, we also met Connie & Rich from “Allure”. After chatting for a few hours, we went to a local pizza place for dinner, then walked back to the boat. Tomorrow’s run is fairly short so we planned a sleep-in.

Thursday – April 18th – 23.3 NM – To: Oriental, NC
We left Beaufort at about 11:00 and headed to Oriental, up a creek, and then across the Neuse River. The trip up Adams Creek was easy with light traffic until just before we reached the Neuse River. There we caught up with 3 other boats headed north. A Sport Fish boat came blasting through and rocked us heavily. Everyone was calling the Coast Guard, who appreciated the info and took the boat name and hailing port. We were all hoping that they would be waiting for the Sport Fish at the other end of Adams Creek.

We had heard that Friday was going to be very windy, and by the time we got to the Neuse River, it was starting to get windy as we made the 4-mile crossing to Oriental. We rounded the breakwater and were told to go to the end of the harbor on the sheltered docks, rather than the open docks. (We were glad they made this change by evening!) We stopped at the pump-out and fuel dock to get rid of, well, stuff and top up our fuel tanks. From there, it was a quick backup of about 200 ft to our dock. We were tied up and settled in by 2:30.

The marina in Oriental is very nice. It’s a combination Marina and Hotel, so there are great facilities and an on-site Tiki Bar and Restaurant. Who could ask for anything more!

We spent the afternoon walking around town, checking out the sites, and when we returned to the boat to get ready for dinner, the wind had come up and there were significant waves (2-3 ft) on the Neuse River. Another Looper boat “Doug Out” who we’d met in Surf City had arrived while we were gone.

Sunset In Oriental, NC

Friday – April 19th – 0 NM – In: Oriental, NC
On Friday we had a scheduled in-port day. We wanted the opportunity to explore Oriental and take a rest from boating. Turns out this was a good thing as the wind came up and was clocking at 40-50 knots most of the day!

We did laundry in the morning and did some boat cleaning and re-arranging. The local Piggly Wiggly grocery store has a shuttle service for boaters, so we gave them a call and went to the store to do some re-stocking.

Piglet Shuttle

During the night, a large fishing boat docked just across from us. Apparently, they damaged their nets, and we watched them re-stitching the netting. One old salt doing the work, while the young guys watched. It’s amazing how fast he was stitching.

Watch how it’s done boys!

By mid-afternoon, the wind was really blowing and we could see the rain coming in on the radar. Tom biked over to the other marina to pick up a package we had shipped in and got some video. We are SO glad they moved us to the sheltered docks! We’d have been right in the middle of this!

High Winds in Oriental

By evening, the rain was coming off and on. We walked to M&M a nearby restaurant for dinner, and then back to the boat. Even in the sheltered cove, we had some loud slapping of waves on the hull, so we put in the earplugs and went to bed. Overnight we were awakened by torrential rain pattering on the boat. Quite the storm!

Saturday – April 20th – 42.2 NM – To: Belhaven NC
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. The wind was down and it looked like a nice day. The route to Belhaven is mostly open water, so we decided to go and have a good breakfast and watch the weather before heading out. We walked to Brantley’s had breakfast and then back to the boat to cast off. The winds were predicted at 10-15, and it was bright and clear so we got ready to cast off. Our neighbor boat “Doug Out” decided to spend another day. (We should have done the same!)

By the time we cast off at 11:00, the wind had picked up a bit. It was blowing straight onto our side and pushing us onto the dock. Even with full thrusters and a hard rudder, we still ended up clipping a piling going out and cracking our stern light.

We pulled out of the harbor and around the breakwater. We had 1-2 foot waves, and the wind was howling but was at our back, and the ride was not too bad. However an hour into our trip, we turned and got the wind quartering off of our stern. The waves were 3-4 ft, and we were rolling quite a bit.

Passing a Phosphate Barge on the Neuse River with heavy waves

The rest of the trip was similar, we saw 3-4 foot waves, wind gusts reaching 44 MPH, Brenda green, and VERY unhappy. Looking back, we should have done some more research on conditions. We learned our lesson!

Bouncing Around the Neuse

Once we got off the Neuse River and into some more sheltered waters, the waves calmed down and the rest of the trip to Belhaven, NC was a bit easier. At about 1:30 were happy to see the breakwater and the Belhaven Marina. We pulled into the face dock, tied up, got off, and enjoyed the feeling of solid land under us. (Interesting note: We still feel the movement of the boat, even on dry land. Especially in the shower! I guess the fluid in our ears is still sloshing around!)

Docked in Belhaven

Belhaven Marina in NC does not have the most up-to-date docks, but the dockmaster Gregg was extremely friendly and the facilities were very clean and well-appointed with free washers and dryers. Gregg recommended a local restaurant Spooners for dinner and even made a reservation for us.

We also met “Doxie”, the boat that we waited for at the bridge in Camp Lejeune, that was docked on the other side of the point.

Doxie docked behind us

After tying up the boat, we took a walk through town and did a Geocache. “Town” consists of a single stoplight, a couple of restaurants, big Ace hardware, and one or two little boutique shops, so it wasn’t a long walk. We got a quick snack as we planned a big dinner, and headed back to the boat.

While we were away, a Marine Trader had come into the marina and was docked behind us. With the waves, lots of sea foam was getting captured in the marina basin and around the boats. We puttered around on the boat until 7:30 our dinner time.

Spooners was fantastic. It’s a high-end restaurant, in a sleepy little town. The place was packed! I wouldn’t think that they could survive, but they’ve been there for 7 years. We had an excellent dinner! Brenda had the rib-eye, and Tom had the pork chop. The dessert was caramel cheesecake with ice cream. One of the best meals we’ve had (and not just on the loop!).

After dinner, we waddled back to the boat. The wind had died down and we had a restful night.

Sunday – April 21st – 71.1 NM – To: Manteo, NC
Easter Sunday dawned bright, clear, and calm. We planned a long run to Manteo and wanted to get going while the weather was good.

We cast off around 8:30 and headed out. The weather started to cloud up and get a bit cool, but there was almost no wind, so it was still a good ride.

The route follows the Alligator River, which for most of it is a VERY long, VERY straight channel about 22 miles long. We caught up with “Doxie” again about halfway through, as well as two other boats. Once we exited the channel and into the main river, we passed three sailboats heading north, and a barge headed south.

We had a short wait for the Alligator River swing bridge, then left the Alligator River and entered the Albemarle Sound. Here we left the ICW route and swung southeast to Roanoke Island.

This is the Island where Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colony of English Settlers vanished in 1585. The route was a bit confusing as several navigation aids were missing (maybe that’s why the settlers got lost! ha! ha!) but we found our way to the entrance channel, and into Manteo Waterside Marina. Just past the lighthouse was our dock. A quick tie-up and we were settled. We got to use our new line holders (Courtesy of Rob Rosenbaum of Direct Machine Works) to hang our fender boards. Across the harbor from us is a Pirate Ship!

We cooked our Easter dinner on the boat. We grilled a ham steak, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. Brenda grabbed some fresh chives from her onboard herb garden for the potatoes.

After dinner, we walked around the waterfront and visited the Lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor. The evening was calm, and we got a great sunset photo, and some fantastic views of the outer banks lit up in the distance.

We are staying in Manteo for the next few days and plan to rent a car and go to Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras. End of Week 1!

Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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