Grace Harbor at River Dunes was so beautiful it was hard to leave. We had taken our dingy exploring, and run up a few fingers of Broad Creek till they got too shallow. We met a nice young couple who liked our boat’s name: their 1 year old daughter is named Grace. Turns out the mom is named Becky (our daughter’s name) and HER mom is named Cheryl.
Even at night the place was gorgeous!
Sunday we ran up the ICW to Belhaven, NC. It is called the birthplace of the ICW, because the last stretch to be completed was here. We were told we should stay in the River Forest Marina, so we could be near the famous River Forest Manor house. In 1904 a wealthy railroad and lumber guy, John Wilkinson, completed an amazing mansion. Beautiful detailing, some done by the same Italian craftsmen that worked on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The huge residence was frequently used for mega parties, and when Wilkinson passed on, it eventually was turned into an inn, restaurant and marina. It was THE place to be in the mid 1900’s. They brag about the celebrities that stayed there, from James Cagney to Twiggy. Times change, however, and it eventually closed, ignored for years. It has now been purchased by a team who have restored it to its former glory, and use it primarily as a wedding venue. We were given a personal tour and history of the manor. Many locals remember spending time at the famous River Forest restaurant, and our tour guides would say “All the tables were here, and my favorite corner was here, and…” Really fun tour.
Anyone else remember seeing gas pumps like this?
The marina was almost empty… our boat and 84 million sea gulls. The dock master said he hated them… they colored the docks white and colored the air with incessant screeching. Inside the boat we didn’t hear them, but step outside and the noise was amazing! So I decided to fight back and make some noise of my own… our air horn sent all 84 million to the air at once, making more noise than ever! I don’t care who you are, that was funny!
But the next morning, we saw one of our enemy birds caught in a fishing line. One wing was tangled in the line, and the line was fixed on the dock, so he was just hanging by his wing flopping frantically. We got the dock master, and he joined us in an attempted rescue. He grabbed the bird, who promptly grabbed his hand in his beak. The bird never let go of his hand, while we struggled to cut all the tightly wound line from his wing. When we finished, he threw the bird in the air, but he didn’t fly too well and landed in the water. He swam a few minutes, then flew awkwardly off. Even though they are messy and noisy, we were glad they weren’t down to only 83,999,999 birds.
Monday we continued up to the mouth of the Alligator river. A fairly short run, and not an alligator in sight.
Tuesday we moved on to Coinjock, NC. This is a famous stop on the Virgina Cut ICW route. It is in a nice stopping place on an otherwise lonely stretch of canal, and their restaruant is known for serving 32oz prime rib. Rather than eating half a cow, we delighted in Cherryl’s latest sourdough raisin bread! Fantastic!
Wednesday headed up to Atlantic Yacht Basin, in Chesapeake Virginia. We are going to have some boat maintenance attended to here, and thought we’d get a start before the holiday weekend. The ICW was very pretty all the way up here, but parts are very narrow and force you to navigate very carefully! Since we have gotten here, we have seen large tugboats, sometimes pushing HUGE barges. I have to believe they are only going a little way south, and not the whole twisty route we just finished!
Here is about an hour’s worth of ICW in just 61 seconds… It slows down for a few seconds to show you passing through a swing bridge. All the little zigs and zags in our course are to follow the chart plotter or depth sounder to avoid shallow areas! There are lots of them!
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