Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ocracoke, the Jewel of the Outer Banks

We hung out in Morehead City the other day while it rained and thundered all day long - for once discretion was the better part of valor as we had decided to sit that storm out dockside! Glad we did since it never let up until the next morning - the only thing out in that kind of weather were the egrets and they seemed to want to play!
An Egret Goes for a Walk in the Rain
But it was a productive day - Doug and Bob replaced the port drive saver (before it broke down and left us with only one engine again!!! that's called preventative maintenance) and I made some oatmeal cookies to reward the grease monkeys. That afternoon we went another round at Raps for some more wings and popcorn - it was too tempting to let a few raindrops thwart us!! When we got home we watched another installment in the Harry Potter countdown - the boat kitties had a great evening!!

The next morning we left bright and early for Ocracoke - knowing that we would stop midway to anchor for the night. There were some really colorful and fun houses along this stretch of the ICW, and the osprey kept us entertained.
The Green House
The Yellow House
An Osprey Nest on Marker 6
We pulled into the South River opposite Oriental, NC to anchor for the night - we dropped the hook in Big Creek and proceeded to have a wonderfully peaceful afternoon and evening. The anchorage was calm, we were surrounded by dolphins and herons and our anchor didn't budge an inch (always the sign of a fabulous anchorage!!!) But the next morning we were ready to move on to Ocracoke, which we have all been looking forward to (in fact Bob woke us up (well almost) at 6:40 AM to ask if we were ready yet!!) - not quite, but we were raising the hook by 7:00!!!!

Click here to see a Google map of our location in Big Creek

The trip to Ocracoke was a little bumpy as we had to cross first the Neuse River and then Pamlico Sound - both bodies of water are fairly shallow and are known for their nasty seas when there is any kind of wind, especially if it opposes the current. We had between 10-15 knots of wind so we had a lot of chop - our bellweather for if it's rough is Bootsie and she was decidedly not too happy. Traveling on the ICW we have a lot of calm water so Bootsie forgets her sea legs (and tummy) after awhile so it takes her time to adjust again when we hit some rough stuff - no worries though, she came through it like a champ and mom bribed her with some tuna upon dropping the hook in Ocracoke, so she's happy as a pig in you know what!!
Bootsie in a Tuna Coma
It actually wasn't too bad - we passed a bunch of shrimp boats and even a huge ferry (which it turns out was coming from Silver Lake at Ocracoke which is where we were headed).
The Shrimp Boat
A Sand Bar off the Coast of Ocracoke

We had heard that the channel leading into Ocracoke had been dredged so we didn't have any problems with skinny water getting in - as long as you carefully mind the channel markers it is just fine, but right on the edges of the channel you could see the shoals and in one spot, a great little beach!! That's one of the main reasons we came to Ocracoke - to explore its miles and miles of pristine beaches that are part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore!! Real honest to goodness sand beaches - I'm very happy!!!! We pulled into Silver Lake Harbor which is a beautifully protected little body of water which is at the center of the village of Ocracoke - we joined the several sailboats and proceeded to drop the hook!! We are far enough away from the ferry docks so while we see them come and go, they are no bother - our idyllic little anchorage is just as cute as they get!! We are surrounded by shingled houses and B&Bs, little craft shops and funky bars along the shore as well as the Ocracoke Lighthouse - we of course had to quickly drop the dinks and go explore!!
The Ferry Leaves Silver Lake
The Very Quaint Waterfront
The Idealic Anchorage in Silver Lake Harbor

Before we did though, September Song spotted friends of theirs on Stormy, a 57 foot DeFever, that was docked at one of the marinas - Dave Stormant and two of his buddies had the boat here from Manteo where he lives and proceeded to come greet SS on their way out to go fishing! We'd connect with them later!! We headed into town to scope things out - it is as quaint as it looked from the water. There are surf shops, a general store, lots of ice cream and candy shops and a number of very funky bars - as we walked around town, it reminded me of the Vineyard and lots of other summer vacation spots (but in a good way - lots of sunkissed people out walking and biking, fishing poles and surfboards everywhere, sandy lanes shaded by huge oak trees and smiles on all of the faces that we passed!!) We did some window shopping and passed a great sign on a chair that said it all - "please take me to the beach"!!!
We then hit the local hangout from the looks of it, Howard's Pub which sports over 200 beer selections - honey, I'm home!!! We were just out on a scouting expedition so we didn't linger too long - we knew we'd be back - we have no agenda but odds are we will stay here for at least several days if not longer!! Working our way back into town we hit Creekside Cove for some peel and eat shrimp, the Jolly Roger
The Jolly Roger
and SmacNally's for some coldies....what?? it gets really hot walking around town!!

We found our way down to Stormy where Dave and his friends were having shrimp - not to bust in on the party or anything, but we did!! What a beautiful boat Stormy is and what great hosts - we had a wonderful evening! Thanks guys!! Today we are going to go clamming and who knows what other adventures await us.....
Drinks Aboard Stormy

Click here to see a Google map of our location in Silver Lake

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