Monday, July 22, 2019

Ocracoke Island & New Bern

July 22
New Bern, NC

Here's an update of our travels on Intermezzo over the past few days:

We left Oriental on Friday morning for Ocracoke Island. We enjoyed sailing in strong winds on a  nice broad reach until we had to turn upwind and navigate the narrow, shallow channel to Ocracoke. At this point in the afternoon, the winds were blowing hard at 25 to 30-plus knots, but the anchorage in protected Silver Lake was calm, the breeze in fact a relief from the oppressive, humid heat.

Saturday morning we got up and took the dinghy to shore to explore town. Ocracoke has about 1,500 permanent residents and over a million visitors a year. It is very tourist oriented, but with a rustic, authentic feel, the natural beauty of the place more prominent than anything manmade. We visited the local history museum, which included a video capturing Ocracokers speaking the local old English brogue of the island. Ocracoke was the lair of the famous pirate Blackbeard, who was killed by an British navy lieutenant at Tars Hole, an anchorage not far from town.

There was a Navy base on Ocracoke during World War II, mostly involved with spotting German U-boats which prowled the coastline and rescuing survivors from merchant ships torpedoed by those submarines.  The bodies of four British sailors were recovered from one of these attacks and, since tradition dictated that they be buried on British soil, a small graveyard was permanently leased to Great Britain. The graves have been cared for ever since by the U.S. Coast Guard.

During our walk we ventured out (trespassed) onto a private dock to take a picture of Intermezzo at anchor. At the end of the dock we met Paige, one of the owners of the dock who, instead of throwing us off the pier, befriended us. Paige, her husband,Bob, and two sons, Chris and Lance, became our gracious, generous hosts for the rest of our visit. We enjoyed a day on the beach, sunset champagne on Intermezzo, nice dinners, listening to music and the view from their fourth floor condo, one of the tallest structures in town. Super-nice people.

Ocracoke was the perfect place to endure the heat wave sitting on much of the East coast. The strong breeze off the ocean and natural surroundings kept the heat index tolerable. Being at anchor meant that Intermezzo was always pointing into the breeze, keeping air to flowing through the hatches.

It was a tough decision, but we decided to leave Ocracoke early Sunday morning for New Bern, about a 60 mile sail. The forecast called for continued very hot, humid weather, so staying in cooler Ocracoke was tempting, but Monday's forecast called for higher winds with 30 knot gusts. Since it would be an upwind ride to New Bern, we opted to travel on Sunday when the winds would be less strong.

We motored through the Pamlico Sound against 15-20 knot head winds and a steep chop. Not pleasant, but we only had to endure the bashing for about half the trip, as once we entered the Neuse River, both the wind and chop subsided significantly. The trip up the Neuse was very pleasant, despite the heat.

We booked a slip in Galley Stores Marina in New Bern as a good rest stop for the upcoming changing of crew. The heat wave continues, but I confess to having broken down and purchased an air conditioner for Intermezzo while in Charleston.

I endured three-plus years in the tropics of Latin America without air conditioning, occasionally sweltering, but never too badly. The heat and humidity in Charleston was the worst I ever experienced and when I saw a small air conditioner that would fit Intermezzo's front hatch on sale for $136, I couldn't resist. I rigged it into place using a 2x6 support on the deck and a cut up foam swim noodle to seal off the top of the opening. We can only run it in marinas when connected to shore power, but it cools down the salon nicely and knocks the temperature down in the cabins quite a bit. Plus it dries the boat and its contents out, which feels really nice and is good for mold prevention.  All worth being a wuss about the heat, I think.

Today we walked around downtown New Bern, just getting a feel for the place. We had lunch at the Sting Ray Cafe,  a little hole in the wall seafood place. It was amazing. An oyster burger, a bun full of plump fried oysters garnished with just the right amount of coleslaw, and a salad heaped with lumps of local hand-picked blue claw crab meat, all for $18.  We will be back because there are shrimp burgers and soft-shell crab burgers yet to be sampled and that crab salad is worth at least one repeat.

Intermezzo will be in New Bern until Sunday. Plenty more exploring to do here.

Leaving Oriental harbor for Ocracoke Island

Arriving at Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island

An older home on Ocracoke Island

Intermezzo at anchor on Silver Lake, the Ocracoke Coast Guard Station in the background

Ocracoke pelican

Lance enjoying the view from Paige and Bob's condo overlooking Silver Lake

Ocracoke's lighthouse

Shrimp boats on Pamlico Sound

New Bern, NC, birthplace of Pepsi Cola 
My secret weapon for beating the heat on Intermezzo