Splish Splash: Beaufort to Oriental on the ICW

Oriental, NC – A second “nice and slow” day for the two of us… for a friendly dockmaster, not so much.

We slipped through the 9:30 am Beaufort Channel Bridge opening, which lead to an easy run to Oriental in the early afternoon.

The perilous finger pier…

Boat traffic was light on the ICW, and we “could” have pulled into the free dock in Oriental. Given the free dock’s prohibition of generator use, plus a forecast calling for high humidity, rain & thunderstorms tonight, we opted to pay for a slip at the adjacent Oriental Marina & Inn. Here we could plug in to electricity, run the boat’s AC, and get a hand with our dock lines.

Alas, our convenience turned into our dockmaster’s bad day: While leaning back to pull on our spring line, he fell off the narrow finger pier into the murky water, losing his prescription glasses & drowning an old flip phone too! We felt terrible; he was very gracious about it.

John and Pam rescued the glasses!

Magic occurred, as Sarah would say, when a kind couple came around with a long-handled fishing net & started what we thought was crabbing off our finger pier. After a while, we deduced they were fishing for the missing glasses, and pointed them to the spot where the plunge took place. A few minutes later, the glasses were glimmering in the net. Sweet victory!

Oriental bills itself as “the sailing capital of North Carolina”.  Sarah had recommended it as a very friendly, walkable place.

Vinyasa on the harbor’s live cam.

Today, large fishing boats were our most visible and “fragrant” neighbors.

The free dock, as a “stone’s throw away”, eventually filled up with a boat on each side. The TownDock.net harbor cam allows incoming sailors to gauge occupancy, which is a very nice touch.

Oriental Harbor Marina

Strolling around the port revealed several shaded benches, with a sailboat or dock usually within view.

The docks at Oriental Harbor Marina seemed quite nice, but they don’t rent transient slips.

Fresh seafood for sale inside

The fishing boat mural on the side of Garland Fulcher’s fresh seafood store was a nice marketing touch.

Oriental’s small town nature was on full display when we dined at the M&M Cafe.

“Come on in! Check out the specials on the board, and sit wherever you’d like,” the hostess/bartender said cheerily as we walked in, before adding to Allan, “I saw you fixing a fender on your boat today… and wasn’t Tom helping you dock when he fell off the pier?”

The M&M Cafe

All but one person at the bar was well-informed about the dousing incident.

Allan and I had a few good chuckles over that as we waited for our meals to emerge from the kitchen. This all feels so very different from our normal routines…which await our return.

Weather permitting, tomorrow we’ll head to Belhaven.

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