October 31-November 1, 2017: Oriental to New Bern, NC

Our long summer in Oriental has come to an end, and on October 31 we set sail for New Bern.  We were going to leave Oriental after our work was done in August.  However, once we looked at how little time we’d have up north before we had to turn around to come back, it just didn’t make sense from a fuel cost perspective or a boat stress perspective.  So instead we kicked back, enjoyed ourselves, and took advantage of living at a dock.  We took a couple of weeks to visit my mom, spent time with friends, and enjoyed some free time.  We also did a few more projects (of course) including replacing three of our five hatches.

We treated our trip to New Bern as a shake-down cruise.  Since we replaced essentially our entire drive train, we wanted to make sure that everything worked properly before we head further away.  To our great delight, the boat’s performance was outstanding.  Even at maximum weight (full diesel tanks, full water tanks, jerry jugs, and a couple of months’ worth of food), we were motoring at 5.2 knots at 2300 rpm, which is amazing for us.  In the past we would require 2650 or 2700 rpm to make that speed, and we think the combination of a prop replacement, engine tune, and clean hull resulted in the new efficiency.

I was kind of worried that we would be super rusty at boat handling, but it all came back.  I was unusually nervous before we cast off, but that settled down once we left.  And I cannot express how glorious it was to be back out on the water, chugging along to a new port, with the sun and wind and gulls.  It was quite cold, but we bundled up in multiple layers and were fine.  It makes me laugh when I see sport fishing boats go blazing past us; they are all in the flybridge with the heat on, wearing shorts and t-shirts.  I had three coats, gloves, and a hat sitting in the cockpit.

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Sun, crisp fresh air, and water.  Heaven.

Coming into the New Bern Grand Marina is pretty simple.  The only real barrier is the Cunningham Bridge, which is a bascule.  It opens on demand until rush hour, and we hit it at the right time.  Once past the bridge, the marina is right there in a large turning basin.  We were lucky enough to get a T-head and just eased right in.  I was able to hand the dockhand our lines rather than throw them, which is the hallmark of a truly easy docking experience.

The marina is right next to a DoubleTree Hilton, so the area is very nice.  The marina facilities themselves are excellent, with floating docks in great condition and clean bathrooms.  The only bummer is the wifi, which is awful.  Even with our Wirie wifi booster, we were unable to get a reliable signal.  It doesn’t help that their network is unsecured, so everyone and their brother is using it.

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This railroad bridge runs along one side of the marina.  The freight trains are infrequent enough to be charming rather than annoying.

We had another example of how small a world the boating community really is.  For years a friend had a sailboat docked behind ours at a marina in Oriental.  He lives in the western part of the country, and when he sold his sailboat a couple of years ago, we were sad to think that we’d never see him again.  Fast forward to three days ago, when we ran into him in our storage unit facility in Oriental.  He bought a new boat, M/V The Journey, and is keeping it in New Bern.  Where, you might ask? Well, at the New Bern Grand Marina, of course.  So we had lunch with DH today and got to tour his beautiful new boat.  It was a fun day with a dear friend, and we’re so glad that he’s on the water again.

Our plan is to motor through the ICW to Morehead City, NC, tomorrow.  We’ll stay at the Morehead City Yacht Basin, which is a new marina for us.  On Friday, 11/3, we’ll jump offshore and sail down to Southport, NC, arriving on Saturday, 11/4.  Weather depending, we’ll stay at Southport for a short time and then go offshore again to Georgetown, SC.  Our ultimate destination is the Bahamas, but unlike last year, we don’t have to rush rush rush to get south.  It’s been difficult to get ourselves out of that mindset, but we’re working on it.

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Oriental to New Bern, NC, was 4.5 hours for 23.7 nm.

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