Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On to Oriental

22nd June

There is a strange howling noise coming from the cockpit. Not a gale, not a whale but John singing to Madness as we motor the final miles of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Alligator River, Albemarle Sound, passing ospreys nesting on the mile markers, we’re nearly there.

13th - 21st June

A most useful, quaint and charming stop and everything was bicycle-able. With a population of 900 with over 2000 boats it was our kind of town. Original America before the strip malls turned it into generica. No KFC, Wal Mart, Sears, just the Town and Country grocery, numerous touristy shops and restaurants. Our bikes from Palma were exhumed, WD-40ed and Oriental was ours….

Seraphim was berthed in the Oriental Harbour Marina managed by Tom and Cathy McInnery. $68 a night including electricity. A night turned into a week because Will Flannery (offshorerafting.com) fixed our dinghy which was falling apart. As well as dinghies Will takes folks on eco tours around the Outer Banks.

A favourite haunt beside the pond where the Oriental dragon floats, was the Bean coffee house run by Eric (left) who is also a volunteer fire fighter. A good meeting place. On the day that the Endeavour space shuttle launch was scrapped we met there, by happy coincidence, a cousin of one of the astronauts (Massimino) on “our” Space shuttle mission STS 125.

And the second coincidence that day was meeting Jim from Green Dolphin whom we had met in Autumn 03 when he and Stephanie and their girls were cruising to the Bahamas.
Jim now runs a sailing school, charter and brokerage business.

The Toucan, the Oriental Marina restaurant, provided the most outstanding dinning we have indulged in for a long time. The Neuse River Yacht Club puts on a top breakfast too.

The marina swimming pool was an every afternoon energy spin off for the boys.

“Beware of Snakes” the sign read and when I asked, the dock master informed me that the area around A dock, our dock, was perfect for water snakes, for example the deadly water moccasin. Rattlers too but they were not so aggressive or deadly. I began to hear hissing in my head and every shadow coiled into deadly reptiles. I renamed the path to the dock Snake Alley. Thankfully the week was comparatively cool and on our last day none felt like sunning themselves in the 103 degree heat.

Dinghy fixed, friends made and caught up with, the Seraphims headed back to the wide Neuse River and on past Belhaven.

And I’ll close today as we opened with John belting it out with Dusty Springfield and her Preacher Man.

Southport Harbour Village 8th June 2009
(Trying singing it to “Sweet Home Alabama“)

A long day along “The Ditch” came to an end in Southport South Harbour Village Marina with the Southern welcome from Bill Gregory, an ex Detective Yankee from Detroit with a great deal on dockage, $1.30, a foot, yehaa! (Usually upwards of $2.00). And it got better.

A playground down the road which was even better than Brittlebank in Charleston which we’d voted no 1.

And the Dead End restaurant, where Tina, our think-of-it before-you-do waitress served us mussels from heaven, in a cream and wine sauce which beat all the many mussels we have had in many places. Tina was not just the best waitress ever (because she is) she was the best waitress ever because she lent us her Mercedes for the following day.

As we were about to leave, Tom the owner came over to chat about the Bahamas and the Chesapeake.

En route to the restrooms with James I passed the exhausted bar tender. She had been “shippin’ liquour too many hours” and “needed a break“, she dragged hard on that cigarette.

We carried Jack home, and James gambled along the pontoon, the moon was full and “awsum”, we smiled and smooched and thought of the folks we had met that day. The dock master who was a detective, our playground chums such as the retired nuclear submarine commander (who named his boat after a Greek girlfriend who left him) and the petite Mummy who was a Southport fire fighter. Meeting these folks is why we go cruising.

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