We do the The Albermarle Loop and make some long time friends
14 Days Looping
375.8 Nautical Miles Total (432.5 Statute Miles)
80.2 Nautical Miles This Week
9.4 Hours Underway This Week
8.7 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 0 Total Locks
Monday, April 22 – In: Manteo NC
Monday was a nice day, cool with a light breeze. We pulled out the bikes and rode 4 miles to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. That is where the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the first permanent English settlement in the US was established. Even though we had not ridden bikes in over a year, and we were using our 20″ folding bikes, the ride was not too bad. One of the advantages of adventuring near the coast is that by and large, it’s pretty flat!
We walked around the fort site and looked at the large outdoor theater where they hold a historic play about the Lost Colony during the season. We saw that they also had a ghost walk that was currently running, so we booked tickets for 8:00 PM for that night.
We then rode over to the Elizabethan Gardens, a formal garden next to the Fort Raleigh Historic Site. The gardens were wonderful, lots of camellias, rhododendrons, roses, and other spring flowers were in bloom. After spending a couple of hours there, we rode back to the boat.
When we got back we met a “Sheepoodle”, part sheepdog, part poodle. Brenda took a rest, and I rode over to a local Ford dealership to pick up a rental car as our plan for Tuesday was to drive over to the Outer Banks and visit Kitty Hawk (of Wright Brothers fame), and Cape Hatteras to visit the lighthouses.
We went to dinner at a restaurant near the marina, and at dusk, took the car over to the National Park for the Ghost Walk. We arrived early, so walked on the nature trail to the beach, and got some great photo’s of the sunset.
The “Ghost Walk” started just after dark, and was a play on the Ghost Chaser programs on TV. After an intro in one of the sound stage buildings, we walked through the woods (the same trail we had walked to the beach), and zombie-like people kept popping out from the trees. Our “Ranger” guide, got carried off by Zombies, and we had to defend ourselves from the spirits of the Lost Colony. All in all, pretty lame, but still a fun night. After the show, we headed back to the boat and turned in.
Tuesday, April 23 – In: Manteo NC
On Tuesday, we jumped in the car and drove across the bridges to the Outer Banks. We drove through Nags Head to the Kitty Hawk National Historic site. We walked through the Museum and saw the reproduction of the plane. We then went out to the field where the Wright Brothers made their first flight. There are monuments showing where they started and landed on the first 4 flights. Given the distance of only about 150 feet for the first three flights, you’d almost say “Fake News!”, the Fourth flight was 852 feet. Seeing the airplane, it’s amazing it got off the ground at all.
We then walked up “Kill Devil Hill”, the sand dune where the Wright brothers tested gliders, and up to the Monument at the top. From there, you can see the entire area and the small airport that parallels the National Park.
From the Wright Brother Monument, we headed south along the Outer Banks and headed toward Cape Hatteras. The Outer Banks toward Hatteras are mostly sand dunes, many encroaching on the road in places.
We stopped at the Bodie Island lighthouse and walked around a bit. While there we met a family from Conway NH on vacation. We then continued on to Cape Hatteras, which is over 90 miles down the Outer banks.
At the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, we visited the museum and walked the path where they moved the entire lighthouse back in 1999.
It was then a 90-mile drive back to the boat. We stopped on the beach and watched the vehicles driving on the sand and picked up some shells.
After dropping off the rental car and getting the boat ready to head out in the morning, we cooked nachos on the boat for dinner. After dinner, we walked around town looking for somewhere open to have dessert.
We finally found the restaurant that we’d had dinner at was open, so Brenda had a slice of Cheese Cake, and I had a “Lost Colony Brewery, Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch Imperial Stout” which was VERY tasty! We then took some nighttime shots of the lighthouse and turned in.
Wednesday, April 24 – To: East Lake, Alligator River, NC
Our plans were to attend an Oyster Roast at the Albemarle Plantation on Friday evening. We had worked an extra day into our plans for weather delays, so we decided to try anchoring out as we’ve only anchored once and we’ll be doing a fair amount on the trip. The weather was forecast to be calm and clear, so we picked a nice protected anchorage with good reviews from others that had anchored there before, that was about halfway to the Plantation.
We had breakfast, visited the lighthouse museum, and left Manteo at about noon for the 26 NM trip to our anchorage. As there’s not a lot to do at anchor, we took our time and arrived about 3 hours later.
After circling the area we picked a few times to check the depth, we dropped the anchor and tested to make sure that it was well set. We got lucky as it set tight on our first drop. Tom did a few boat maintenance tasks, and Brenda got dinner ready. The area we anchored is several miles off of the main ICW channel and surrounded by National Wild Life Refuge. We were surprised to hear another boat come around the point toward us, and even MORE surprised to see that it was carrying a riding lawnmower! Very odd!
We had a spaghetti dinner and watched a great sunset. Then called it an early night, as we knew we’d be up checking the anchor several times during the night.
Thursday, April 25 – To: Albemarle Plantation, Hertford, NC
At 1:30 AM Tom woke up and got up to check the anchor. All was well. The wind had shifted, and we had moved about 180 degrees from our original anchoring direction, the anchor was still holding just fine. What was NOT fine, was the audible buzz inside the boat. Tom looked around inside for the source, then looked through the rear window and discovered that it was MILLIONS of midges! The boat was entirely covered with them! There was nothing we could do at night, so just went back to bed to deal with it in the morning.
We woke up around 6:00 and used the anchor washdown hose to rinse off as many of the midges, alive and dead (they only live about 2 days, so the decks were covered with midge bodies). The boat was a mess, midges crawling around, dead bodies squishing underfoot. They were EVERYWHERE. When Tom went to do the engine checks in the engine room, they had crawled in through the vents and were flying around and lying dead in the engine room. Also, the boat was covered in blue egg sacks! What a mess! At least our anchoring went well and we didn’t drag overnight!
The little circle toward the bottom is our swing overnight.
While we were cleaning up, another boat that had anchored a little farther down the lake cruised past. We talked to them on the radio, and they had escaped the Midge invasion. (We need to learn where the midges are!)
At 8:00 we weighed anchor (55 lbs for those of you wondering) and headed for Albemarle Plantation. The ride to Albemarle was nice and easy, the wind came up when we got into the Albemarle Sound, and we had to watch our course as the southern end of the sound has a CIA training ground. We reached Albemarle and having watched their helpful video, we cruised into the fuel dock, topped off the tanks, and got a waste pump-out. Then we backed into our slip, right next to the fuel dock for the next two days.
The Albemarle Sound is a larger sound in North Carolina that historically has been a big seaport, and a number of towns played a major part in the Civil War (more on this later). In general, most boaters that don’t live on the sound have by-passed it as it tends to be a bit choppy, and many are in a rush to get north.
Albemarle Plantation, which is a 1,300-acre development with a golf course, marina, tennis center, condos, and custom homes, (and used to be a huge pig farm), decided to group together some of the other towns on the sound, and create the “Albemarle Loop” a loop for boats to attract them to the sound. The idea is that if you stay at at least 3 of the stops, you can get up to two nights of free dock space at each location! It’s a great deal, as a typical night of dock space for us is about $80! Also, to attract boats doing the Great Loop that are heading North at this time of year, they have coordinated a number of events to make it a real destination (more on this later, too!).
As we were crossing the sound, the wind had come up, and getting into our slip was a bit challenging. We did a quick tie-up and registered, got a golf cart tour of the Plantation, and went back to the boat. The weather forecast was for high winds on Friday and the chance for severe thunderstorms, so we spent the next hour pulling extra lines out of storage and strapping the boat into the slip as best we could.
Two other boats arrived, a sailboat, and a trawler from Maine, with a guest onboard from New Hampshire, our old home state!
After tying down the boat, Brenda was graciously loaned the dockmasters car to go to the local Food Lion to do shopping, and Tom spent several hours scraping blue egg sacks and washing midges (dead and alive) off the boat. When Brenda got back, she helped finish up the job. We’ve decided that we’ll the worst thing about the Loop (so far) is #!@&%$! MIDGES!
At dinner time, we walked along the golf course fairway (holes 16, 17 & 18) following the last group of golfers of the day. (They were NOT pros! so it was a slow walk) to the clubhouse for dinner. The restaurant at the clubhouse is very “particular” about dress code. We walked into the clubhouse and the hostesses “discussed” if we qualified for entry into the restaurant. I was wearing shorts, slightly out of season, BUT, I did have boat shoes and a collared shirt, so they could make an “exception” in our case. We decided to eat in the “Grill” (which has no dress code) anyway, as it looked more casual and had the same menu.
It was funny listening to the hostesses discuss the patrons as they arrived. Oh, the Smiths are sitting at table 4, so we can’t seat the Jones’es at table 5 because they don’t get along….. DRAMA!!!!
We had a nice dinner, and walked back to the boat on the main road and listened to the bullfrogs serenading us from the ponds.
Friday, April 26 – In: Albemarle Plantation, Hertford, NC
In the morning, we had breakfast on the boat. Went out and washed off that night’s assortment of Midges and then did two loads of laundry. (Free washers and dryers! Yeah!!!!)
The underside of the docks is home to a colony of swallows. They would zip around the boat catching bugs, and making their tweeting-clicking sounds. They seemed to like our dock lines as resting spots!
As the day progressed, the weather went steadily downhill. By noon, we had 20-25 knot winds from the south which sent the boat rocking! We had to get off the boat it was rocking so bad, so we went to the park at the end of the dock and sat on the benches watching the boats bounce up and down. The weather was cloudy, and we had thunderstorm warnings, but aside from a few drops every now and then, most of the afternoon was dry.
One of the residents pointed out an Osprey nest in a tree just off the park. Apparently last year, the Osprey built the nest and had babies, but didn’t return this year. A Canadian Goose decided to adopt the nest and have her chicks there. As we were sitting, she came in for a landing, and we watched her fluffing up the nest.
At 4:00 the Oyster Roast started. They had limited attendance to 100 people and had 1,600 lbs of oysters, so there was more than enough to go around! They also served clam chowder and provided butter, hot sauce, and cocktail sauce. We seemed to be local celebrities as many of the residents of the plantation came over to meet us and ask questions about the Great Loop. There was one couple who had just returned from the loop two weeks prior themselves and we spent some time with them getting tips and recommendations of places to see.
Around 6:00 as the roast was winding down, we got one good downpour that lasted about 15 minutes, and then the wind shifted and started to die down, so we were able to go back to the boat and had a reasonably quiet night.
When we got back to the boat after the rain, we were greeted with a perfect rainbow!
Saturday, April 27 – To: Plymouth, NC
In the morning, the wind was still blowing at 10-15 knots, but the waves didn’t look too bad. We debated staying but didn’t want to spend another day off the boat due to bouncing. Our next port was Plymouth, about 20 miles away up a river which is more protected from the wind, so we decided to go.
We dropped our lines at 8:00 and headed out into the sound. It was fairly rough in the open water with 3-4′ waves breaking over the front of the boat, so we moved from the flybridge (top), to the lower helm to keep dry. We went under highway 32 bridge and headed for the river inlet.
Once we got into the river, the wind died right down, and it was a nice easy ride the 7 miles up the Roanoke River to Plymouth.
Some fellow Loopers, Herb on “Phantom” (who we had docktails with in Beaufort) and Charlie and Robin McVey on “The Lower Place” were already in port and had sent us a message that the current at the docks was strong and offered to help us tie-up. We called them when we were a mile out, and they were graciously waiting for us. Charlie and Robin helped us wrangle the boat into the slip. We had to make two passes, due to the current and wind but were able to make it in on the second try.
In the process of trying to back the boat into a slip with wind and current, we also had to deal with the Civil War-era Iron-Clad, “Albemarle” which was cruising up and down the river firing off its cannons!!!!
The Albemarle is a reproduction of a Civil War-era Iron Clad ship, that was involved in “The Battle for Plymouth”, reportedly one of the last Confederate victories of the war. Every year, they have a “re-enactment” involving both land and sea (river) skirmishes. The town was an armed camp with several hundred men, women, and children all dressed in 1800’s dress walking around carrying guns. They had turned one of the fields near the museum into a tent camp. We had a great time walking around meeting the “characters” who all play a “role” of a person from the time. So they talk in the first person, as the person they portray.
CSS Albemarle The Albermarle’s Captain How cute! Daily work dress The UNION Cannon Team Albemarle fires its cannons Lots of period dress Confederate Emcampment
We watched a fashion show, a talk about the battle of Plymouth, and visited a Naval Lieutenant Commander James Waddell and his Sargent Billy, who were telling the story of the Shenandoah, a steam/sailing ship, that was part of the Confederate states fleet.
(See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_Shenandoah for more information)
What attracted us to their tent, was an interesting collection of antique firearms. We got to chatting with them and ended up inviting them over to the boat in the evening to see it.
We watched a mock battle between Union and Confederate troops (the Confederate troop won, this IS North Carolina after all!). We also watched a mock naval battle between, the CSS Albemarle an Iron-Clad, and a steam launch. (Both of which are on permanent display in Plymouth, NC)
After the battles, we made a stop at “Phantom” one of our fellow Loopers boats for a beer. Then went back to our boat till dinner at 7:00, which was a “Fireside Feast” held in the park just behind the boat.
About 6:00, Stephen & Billy (the reenactors) stopped by the boat for a visit with a jug of “Grog”. (rum, lemon juice, sugar cane juice, and gun power) We chatted about the loop, and they came “out of character (after taking off their uniform jackets) and we chatted about their past. We found out that Stephen is from Maryland and lives right off the Chesapeake Bay. We may boat up to his home and visit at his dock when we are up in that area.
Dinner was fun, a Shrimp boil, Brunswick Stew, North Carolina Pork Roast, Corn Bread, North Carolina Ham, Squash, and for dessert, Vinegar Pie (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) It was served at communal tables and we got to meet some of the locals who were all very friendly and gracious. During dinner, they had music from some of the reenactors and a bonfire.
After dinner, we toured the Light House which was in the park where the dinner was held, then went over to “The Lower Place” and said our goodnights to the McVeys and Herb.
Sunday, April 28 – In: Plymouth, NC
Our fellow Loopers “The Lower Place” and “Phantom” left early for Edenton while the winds were calm. We saw them off at around 7:00 am.
In Plymouth, there are two restaurants, one is open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, the other from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm (except Sunday, when they are open from 11:20 to 2:30). After a shower, we walked up to Stella’s Cafe (the early place) for breakfast. North Carolina claims to be the pig capital of the USA and based on the pork we’ve had, we won’t argue with that. The bacon at Stella’s is just fantastic, big, crispy, just a bit of fat, smoked to perfection. If we ever get back, I’m going to order the Bacon special with a side of bacon!
After breakfast, we walked around town on the history trail and took a short side trip up to the local Walgreens (Brenda just can’t stay away!) We then walked back through the “encampment” taking some photos and then walked a nature trail along the river. That was a mistake! Aside from the Water Moccasin warning signs, we were attacked by horse files and had to do the last 1/4 mile waving branches around our head to keep the flies away!
We got off the trail at the first exit and walked back to the boat on the roads. At 2:00 there was another re-enactment at the site of the old fort, so we decided to break out the bikes and ride the mile to the battle site. The battle was fun to watch, lots of grown men (and a few women) dressing up and playing with cannons and guns! The South won again! (go figure)
After the battle, we rode the bikes to the local Piggly Wiggly, and got a few fresh items for dinner, then went back to the boat, cooked dinner on the grill. After dinner, an airboat was giving rides, (22 ft lightweight boat, with a Corvette engine and straight pipes!) We watched him do donuts and in general scare everyone that went on board.
The wind had shifted and was coming up the river from the east, which caused some 1-2 foot waves, so we called it a night figuring that we might not get a good night’s sleep.
Next Week: The Dismal Swamp Canal
Tom & Brenda