Oriental, NC

One week on the water, we are making leisurely progress south. We spent two days in Deltaville to avoid an unpleasant ride on 4 ft chop banging head seas. A good move. Our run from Deltaville to Portsmouth was smooth enough, and the extra day allowed the front to pass and winds to clock around to the north, so our ride was with 3 foot seas, but our progress downwind with following seas- a much more comfortable ride! We left Portsmouth by 0830 the following morning after some advance planning with friends Chris and Joyce aboard Celebrate. They made the run from Solomon’s to Hampton Roads, a long day!

The 1st leg of the ICW is fraught with bridges that are on restricted schedules, so timing is all-important. Arrive 10 minutes too late and spend an extra 50 minutes hanging by the bridge for the next opening- unless you’re fortunate enough to tag along with a tug! (Tugs are afforded openings on demand with few exceptions, and most bridge tenders will allow you to transit the opening with the tug if you ask.) We also decided to take on some fuel at Top Rack Marina, offering the lowest price on diesel in the area. At $3.58 a gallon, a painful stop! Fuel is a gamble. We took 500 gallons, just a bit over half a tank in addition to the 100 or so gallons we already had. Our timing was spot on as Celebrate and Maerin both were able to fuel simultaneously in the time it took to time our approach for the next bridge.

Our cruise was uneventful, and we arrived in Coinjock just before sunset and just behind Celebrate, who cruises a bit faster than we do. The stopover at Coinjock is notable for dinner at the marina’s restaurant, famous for their prime rib. For an off the beaten path restaurant, they have excellent food, and we look forward to stopping there each time we make the trip on the ICW! This time was extra special since we were joining friends Chris & Joyce, and in addition, a chance call to sister Lisa revealed that she and Dave were at their beach house near Kitty Hawk, just a 35 minute drive, and they joined us for dinner. We had a wonderful time, great food, great company!

From Coinjock we headed for the Alligator River and anchored overnight just north of the Pungo Canal, and enjoyed a pleasant run up the creek to a public boat ramp that’s reached by a narrow canal that snakes back through the marsh. Stark cypress stumps and bare trunks stand like sentinels along the canal, and as the sun waned, it lent an eerie but serene creepiness to the trip back to the landing. No banjo music heard, and we enjoyed a walk with the dogs back a paved road past some houses and actual civilization. Not much around those marshes!

We enjoyed a peaceful evening, and were up anchor and underway by 0630 the following morning, bound for Oriental with Celebrate not far behind, and not for very long. At the south end of the Pungo canal, there is a peculiarity about the markers. Sure enough, they reverse at that point!! ICW markers typically use a red right going south, and all have a yellow mark, triangular for red or starboard side, and square for green or port side. As you can see from the photo, they are transposed. A bit odd, but at several points on the ICW the markers do double duty for local waters as well as ICW. For the unsuspecting, it can be confusing! We arrived in Oriental around 1630, with enough light left to drop the dink and head for town. Weather has been favorable, with daytime temps in the 60’s and light winds. We will stay in Oriental another day, it’s a nice spot, and we’re in no particular hurry as long as our weather stays warm!

2 Responses to “Oriental, NC”

  1. Laura & Mark on 15 Dec 2011 at 12:41 PM #

    We actually visited Coinjock by car once while visiting Norfolk and met up with some guys delivering a huge Hatteras. Looked like an interesting little place and a great stopover for cruisers! Looking forward to seeing it by boat one of these days.

  2. Steve on 15 Dec 2011 at 5:50 PM #

    Coinjock’s a stopover for certain. There’s really not much there besides the marina but the restaurant is well-known in the cruising world, and during the peak of the migration, they’re filled every night with all sorts of boats, some very large yachts included. For being in the middle of nowhere, the restaurant has excellent fare, particularly their famous prime rib. The “Virginia Cut” is a prime shortcut for southbound vessels.