A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

11.30 - Belted Kingfisher

A male Belted Kingfisher perches on a mainmast spreader at Oriental Harbor Marina

"The only kingfisher in most of North America," according to the National Geographic Field Giude. "Common and conspicuous along rivers and brooks, ponds and lakes, estuaries..."

"Call is a loud, dry rattle"... The bird's call was what whaat brought my attention to its' presence, but I would describe it more as a repetitive chittering.

I have seen these birds hovering near the mouth of Whittaker Creek, but not gotten a picture before today.

Kingrishers "hover over water or watch from low perches, then plunge headfirst to catch a fish."

Very cool. Now added to my photographic life-list.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

11.22- Gale warning

Two red triangular pennants fly at the Oriental Harbor Marina flag mast

Two red pennants means "gale warning"... This means winds from 34 to 48 knots (39 to 54 miles per hour or 63 to 69 kmh) are predicted.

The Oriental Harbor Marina flag mast is visible from most places in the harbor, and from the bridge over Smiths Creek...

If you are thinking about going boating, it is a good idea to glance at the OHM flag mast first... One red pennant indicates a "small craft advisory," which is either 15 or 20 knots, I can't recall. Red square flags with a black square in the middle mean "hurricane warning"... I haven't yet seen those flags at the OHM.


Friday, November 21, 2008

11.21- Cheap Gas

A man rides his bicycle up Broad Street (NC Hwy. 55) past the "Town and Country" grocery store, where gasoline has just dropped below $2.00 per gallon

I rode my bike up to Town and Country to buy a Coke from the machines outside when an employee came out to change the price sign.

As she was flipping the numbers, several folks asked what the new price was going to be, and cheered when they learned it was just now breaking the $2.00 level.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11.19- Snow flurries

A cloud moving out over the Neuse River drops snow near Smiths Creek and Oriental Harbor

Early snow in Oriental! As predicted, snow flurries moved through the area today. Each flurry was very brief, but I experienced three or four separate flurries during the day.

It really is snow, and not rain! In the picture below, the small white dots are snowflakes being lit up by the camera flash:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11.18- Doin' the Ditch...

Vessels moving south on the Intracoastal Waterway near Swansboro, NC

I took this picture from the third floor balcony of a new home being built just south of Swansboro, NC.

The house fronts on "the Ditch"... the 1,090 mile long Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, a series of natural and man-made (or altered) protected waterways running from Portsmouth, VA ("Mile 0") to Key West, FL.

There was a continuous stream of sailboats and stinkpots running in front of the house all day, as the weather was nice, and has been kinda nasty the past few days. Folks who had to lay up for weather are now cruising to make up time.


Monday, November 17, 2008

11.17- Minnesott Beach Ferry

Minnesott Beach-Cherry Point ferry

This is the ferry that crosses the Neuse River between Minnesott Beach and Cherry Point. Minnessot Beach is 12 miles from Oriental, and is the nearest place you can cross the river without your own boat, particularly if you are driving a car or truck.

The ferry is seen here from the Minnesott Beach side, framed between pilings at the ferry port on this side of the river.

The ferry leaves from each side of the river every 30 minutes or hour (depending on time of day) and the ride takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The ride is free.

The ferry doesn't run in high winds, storms, or heavy fog...

If the ferry isn't running because of any of the above, you have to decide whether it is best to wait out the weather, or drive all the way up the river to New Bern, cross the river bridge, then drive down the other side of the river ... it takes about an hour or so of driving.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

11.15- Tow time

A newly-anchored itinerant sailor with a motor-dinghy gives a tow to another itinerant in her two-armstrong powered "Dink"

I met this young woman at the Dinghy Dock today as I was riding by.

She had come ashore to go grocery shopping, leaving her "old man" on their sailboat at anchor out in the harbor (not in camera shot above).

She had rowed ashore in a "Dink" dinghy.

When she returned to the Dinghy Dock after a couple of hours, she found the winds had grown fairly stiff... about 15 to 20 knots... out of the Southwest.

(Notice two of the anchored sailboats in the picture are pointing straight into the fresh breeze... the third/middle sailboat, flying Netherlands flag, is not pointing into the wind only because she is aground)

Finding it impossible to row the light dinghy straight into the wind far enough to reach her boat, the woman had been embayed for at least an hour before I showed up.

As we were chatting, another sailboat came into the harbor and began trying to anchor.

We watched as her captain dropped anchor, hoping he would dinghy ashore soon and maybe be able to help the woman return to her boat. The anchor dragged, and the sailboat drifted towards another anchored boat. The guy weighed anchor, motored around, and tried again. Anchor dragged again. Guy weighed, moved and dropped the hook yet again.

By this time, another woman had walked up to the Dinghy Dock, introduced herself, and explained she was waiting for the guy out there trying to anchor to come pick her up.

By this time there were four of us watching this guy try to anchor... Watching someone struggle with anchoring, particularly in a Southerly or Southwesterly blow, is considered better-than-TV entertainment in Oriental.

After the guy dropped anchor again, we saw him finally lowering his dinghy from the stern davits into the water. Great, we all thought... one woman was waiting for the guy to come take her to his boat, the other woman was hoping the guy could tow her dinghy back to her boat, and myself and another guy were watching all the drama with great interest.

The guy got in his dinghy, hauled in the painter, and started motoring... away from the dinghy dock! Where is he going, the watching crowd wondered in chorus, while at the same time noticing that the guy's sailboat was swinging awfully near it's anchored neighbor.

The guy motored his dinghy about a hundred feet ahead of his sailboat on the starboard side, then stood up in the dinghy.

"He's dropping a second hook" we all said, again in chorus.

So the guy dropped his second anchor from the dinghy, motored back to his sailboat, went aboard and hauled in his hawsers to satisfaction, neatly pulling his sailboat away from the threatened neighbor.

He then came ashore, and happily gave the stranded rower a tow back to her "old man" just as the sun set.

Another exciting 90 minute drama at Oriental anchorage!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

11.09- It takes a village to build a boat

Bob Miller (reaching into boat) gets some help in an early stage of building his Core Sound 17 sailboat
The Oriental version of a barn-raising is of course a boat-building.

Bob Miller is building a "Core Sound 17" sailboat in his garage. The boat was designed by "B&B Yacht Designs," located in nearby Vandemere. See the B&B webpage for this boat here.

Bob had cut out the various parts of the hull using 1/4 inch plywood, and needed some extra hands to hold the pieces in place while he "stitched" them together with copper wire... See the picture below for a better view of the stitches (they look like knots every six inches or so) on the bow and hull:

In the future, the seams will be glued together and the stitches removed... this is typically referred to as "stitch and glue" boat building.

I will follow the progress of Bob's boatbuilding, and update here.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

11.08 - "Merry Mary" Tartan 34

George Duffie sails "Merry Mary," his 30-year old Tartan 34' Classic, on her port tack in a brisk southerly breeze on the Neuse River
(Click on picture or here for full size)
"Merry Mary" (above) is a common sight out on the Neuse... Owners George and Mary Duffie live here in Oriental. George often races her, and has a few wins.

Approaching the camera on her starboard tack is "Pirogue," a Cape Dory 33...

Here is a better view of "Pirogue" after she passed within about 30 yards of me in the Bauer 10 Dinghy during my sail today... (Notice there is no-one at the helm!) :


Thursday, November 6, 2008

11.06- "Sea Stallion" - USMC CH-35E

A USMC CH-35E "Sea Stallion" helicopter flies over the Neuse River on its way from Cherry Point Marine Corps station to the BT-11 target zone on Piney Island at the mouth of the Neuse River

These are new birds in the neighborhood skies... Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 366 recently moved to the U.S. Marine Corps station at Cherry Ridge, about 12 miles up the Neuse River from Oriental.

HMH-366 aircrews flies CH-53E Super Stallions, the Marines' "heavy haulers." The unit has been relocated to Cherry Point from reserve unit locations around the country.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, the CH-35E :

"...is designed for the transportation of equipment, supplies and personnel during the assault phase of an amphibious operation and subsequent operations ashore.

"Capable of both internal and external transport of supplies, the CH-53E is shipboard compatible and capable of operation in adverse weather conditions both day and night.

"... The twin-engine helicopter is capable of lifting 7 tons (6.35 metric tons)

"... The helicopter will carry 37 passengers in its normal configuration and 55 passengers with centerline seats installed."

Monday, November 3, 2008

11.03- "Lady Hawk" and "Emily Brooke"

The "Emily Brooke" heads out of Oriental Harbor towards Pamlico Sound, as the "Lady Hawk" sails upriver

Another shot taken from the Bauer 10 Classic as I was sailing out in the Neuse River.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

11.02- Anchored in the Roadstead

Six sailboats at anchor on the Neuse River near the entrance to Oriental Harbor.

While Oriental Harbor is a popular anchorage on the ICW, some boats prefer to anchor out in the Neuse River outside the harbor breakwater near the channel from the ICW into the harbor... an area I generally refer to as "Oriental Roads."

These six boats are from Maine (at least four of them are)... I found them anchored out in the river as I sailed out to Oriental Marker No. 1, then to Whittaker Creek No. 1 and back to the harbor.

I took this picture while I was sailing back into Oriental Harbor just as the sun set.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

11.01- "Marine Consignment of Oriental "

Dinghies on display in front of "Marine Consignment of Oriental"

If you are boating down the ICW and have a list of boat parts you are looking for (a bit redundant, I know), you might want to drop by Oriental and visit "Marine Consignment of Oriental" on Broad Street (Hwy 55).

Outboard motors, hardware, sails, rigging... any parts, big or small... if it attaches to a boat, they probably have it here.

If you have some extra parts to sell, you can sell them here on consignment.

I like the mouse on the bow of this dinghy... I guess it's supposed to be terrified by the frightening speed this rowing/sailing dinghy can achieve.