Indian Summer’s Segmented Migration
Last winter, Indian Summer (a 1982 Defever 44) spent some time as far South as Fernandina Beach, FL. Through our buddy Capt. Mike Dais we got a monthly deal at Oyster Bay Yacht Club, just across the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Amelia Island. (Mike is in fact a captain, but likes the moniker particularly as volunteer planner and manager and boat captain of Indian Summer.)
In the 2015-16 round trip, my wife Lucy and I leap-frogged with other Indian Summer cruisers, in segments down and then back up the ICW, with the boat spending the summer at home on the Severn. The boat was for sale last winter and spring, but the southern migration worked so well that we took the boat off the market and are doing the ICW again. At the end of October and the first days of November, Lucy and I did a segment from Hampton, VA, to New Bern, NC, with stops at a couple of anchorages and a marina at Belhaven, NC.
We started our trip by train: New Carrollton to Newport News and cab to join Mike and Laura on the boat. Indian Summer was berthed at the Downtown Hampton Public Piers, where the hospitality was made particularly attractive by a free-night coupon we had picked up at the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis. The Public Piers share the waterfront with the Crowne Plaza Hotel and are easy walking distance to the Virginia Air and Space Center, the Hampton History Museum, an antique carousel, and a number of restaurants. It is a pleasant place to spend time.
We resolved when we first got Indian Summer never to be in a hurry, and our time in Hampton fit that plan. We did some seriously unhurried walking and bicycling, saw a great IMAX show at the Air and Space Center, did an educational tour through the History Museum, ate a bit too much good food, and spent significant time doing nothing, at which your scribe excels.
After a few days enjoying Hampton, Laura left to fly home to Florida and Mike, Lucy, and I headed south. The first day under weigh (note the snobbish nautical spelling) we went through Norfolk, and ran down past Coinjock, since the Dismal Swamp Canal was still closed to clear up storm debris. We anchored in Broad Creek, a tongue of quiet water into lowlands just up the North River from the Albemarle Sound. After a quiet night, we spent a day crossing the mirror- flat Sound with the only breeze generated by seven knots of boatspeed. Now whenever we hear someone telling the infinitely exaggerated tales of rough weather in the Albemarle Sound, we can accurately describe it as the most benign body of water on earth.
We anchored the second night in the Alligator River at the North end of the Alligator Pungo canal: in the wild but with two or three other anchored boats in sight and a bit of canal traffic going by now and then.
Our third day out was a trip through the canal and the Pungo River to Belhaven, NC. We stayed at the Belhaven Waterway Marina, essentially in downtown Belhaven. A question for cruisers: Is the Belhaven Waterway Marina the only one anywhere that supplies towels and washcloths in the shower rooms and offers a free laundry room? If there’s another one, does it have an owner-manager like Les, who not only is a top mechanic, but plays the guitar and sings? Belhaven also has a couple of really nice restaurants and sightseeing on foot and bicycle. We waited out the passage of a front, spending a day and a half relaxing and touring (mostly the former).
Since Lucy and I had to get back, we had been sort of planning to end our segment at Oriental, NC, which has been a highly recommended stop. We checked internet sources and Capt Mike spent a batch of time on his iPad and talking to friends about the best way to get us from Oriental to a train station. One of his buddies suggested that we bypass Oriental and run up the Neuse River to New Bern, where there is an Amtrak bus pickup. The North Carolina colonial capital is 20 or so miles off the ICW, but, as we can now attest, is really worth the detour. Again, we toured on foot and bicycle, including guided tours of a couple of colonial houses and the rebuilt replica of the Tryon Palace, the colonial governor’s mansion. The New Bern Grand Marina Yacht Club has fine floating docks, helpful staff, good rates and a Doubletree Hotel on the dock. The town has a nice selection of restaurants and touristy shops, as well as a shopping center for essentials a short Uber ride away.
After a couple of fine days at New Bern, Lucy and I reluctantly walked to catch the Amtrak bus up to Wilson and our train back to New Carrollton. The boat stayed at New Bern for three more weeks or so, with Capt Mike puttering around, working on the woodwork and planning the next couple of legs: from New Bern to Myrtle Beach where Mike and Laura will be joined by Bob and Linda Burnett for the Myrtle Beach-to-Charleston segment (via Aunny’s Restaurant in Georgetown, SC, of course.)
Future itinerary is in the discussion stage: not in a hurry.
by Charlie Iliff