Friday, August 20, 2010

Goose Creek Island Circumnavigation

Well I finally made it around Goose Creek Island. Kristen (KiwiBird), David, and I got to Pate’s Boat Yard late Fri and visited with a few old friends from my April visit there. Some of us are going to plan an Oktoberfest weekend in October, lots of paddling by day, and partying by night.

All who’d been out fishing that day warned us that the NE winds were still high and water fairly rough, so we chose to paddle over to Belhaven via the ICW which is inside of the Island. By the time we got to the 5 mile crossing of Pamlico River winds were about 12 knots and slowly decreasing. We sailed on the beam across most of the river then lost the wind completely for about 10 miles up the Pungo River. The last hour had it clocking around and we sailed into Belhaven at 4 knots without paddling, having finished 23 miles for the day.

There is a large historic Victorian Mansion known today as the River Forest Manor and Marina, built in 1899, by John Aaron Wilkinson, President of J.L. Roper Lumber Company and Vice-President of Norfolk & Southern Railroad. It is now an Inn, Restaurant, and Marina. Business was a bit down and they were closed for renovations, but let us camp on their grass, and use the marina’s bathhouse.

Dinner was the best grilled scallops we’d all ever had at Georgie’s Sports and Oyster Bar a few blocks away. We walked down the road on the river front with its beautiful historic homes, and then into the small town. It was quite sad as the town seems quite depressed, with many/most of its store fronts closed, and lots of property for sale.

Up at sunrise on Sunday, we packed up and paddled the other side (West) of the Pungo River planning to finish our paddle on the outside along Pamlico Sound of Goose Creek Island.

Head winds today, light about 5-8 knots. We found a beautiful little sandy beach (there aren’t many) still on the Pamlico River that we stopped early (2pm) and just swam, visited, relaxed, and camped the night.

Monday the winds had died completely, and though temperatures were still milder than the week before, without a good breeze, this was our hottest day, and after last weekends 50 mile "Vacation to Hell" paddle, David and I were both feeling it.  We paddled around point to point, Little Porpoise Point to Big Porpoise Point, then Middle Bay Point to Sow Island Point and into Jones Bay. Halfway up the Bay, Shawn (owner of Pate’s) motored over in his modified tri-dory (a narrow dory he'd built a few years ago with hobie-cat hulls added for stabilization), he’d been following my SPOT tracks, and said the locals were quite impressed that we’d crossed the River on Saturday.

Total trip 58 miles, 3 days, good company, good paddling, great vacation.

Last year they built a new and large concrete bridge over the ICW onto Goose Creek Island, prior to that it was a smaller draw bridge, likely with lots of history.  Surfing the web a bit, I noticed the book "Across The Bridge: Life on Goose Creek Island and Pamlico County" by Lisa Flowers Santimaw.   Advertised as book about "country life", from fishing trawlers to drawbridges, family life and friends and family gone on before.   I've not read it, so can't really recommend it, but it is a genre that I've enjoyed in the past, reading stories of rural and coastal N.C.

1 comment:

James said...

River Forest Manor is great. They may still do it, but they used to have a seafood buffet every Friday. I did vessel deliveries for a long while, and some how (?) every ICW delivery finished one night at River Forest. Go Figure! I had been telling my wife about it, and one anniversary I told her to just get in the car and don't ask any questions. We drove down from Delaware and spent a weekend in the manor. Great place.