Hello from Oriental NC, a very boater friendly, dog friendly, and just plain friendly small town on the Neuse River. We arrived here yesterday and we're still here for a 2nd night. Why? Can you say 'Free Dock'?
Yes, we're in the very hospitable 'Sounds' are of eastern NC, where Dave Wyman and I explored some of back in November. This area has welcoming towns that often provide free dockage to cruisers, and Oriental has a single finger pier for this, providing coveted free docking space to two boats. When we came here in November, the dock was full so we anchored up in nearby Greens Creek. This time we were luckier, as I'll explain below.
We started yesterday in Swansboro (ICW mile 229), lifting anchor at 7:30 or so, heading up Bogue Sound to Beaufort NC (mile 204), then turning inland up Adams Creek to the Neuse River and Oriental (mile 181). There happens to be a webcam that points at Oriental's free dock, and I could access that as we approached and see that one side of the dock was open (and at the other side was a boat that looked like Spray's twin). It was great to know ahead of time that I'd be doing a port-side-tieup so I could get the fenders and lines ready, and by 2 pm we were tied up in the heart of Oriental. Our neighbors, Bob and Margaret from CT had arrived just a bit before on their 1988 GB32 'Thumper', which they keep in beautiful condition. In the pic above, that's Spray on the left and Thumper on the right. Across the street is coffee shop 'The Bean' (below), the nerve center of town and a great place to hang out.
There is a 48 hour limit on the dock here, so tomorrow we'll shove off. Since Dave and I explored the western reaches of these sounds, I think now we'll look at the eastern areas, beginning with the town of Ocracoke NC, which is out on the outer banks barrier islands, and reportedly has a good anchorage. This area apparently has poor ATT coverage, so I'll have to report on it when I'm back in civilization. Stay tuned.