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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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

9.30- Fishing the ditch

Fishing in the ICW at the Hobucken Bridge
(click image to enlarge)

This couple was fishing from a dock at the R.E. Mayo & Co. fish-house, just across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from the community of Hobucken (see map below)

The bridge on the left side of the photo crosses the ICW from the Pamlico County "mainland" to Goose Creek Island (also in Pamlico County)

This modern bridge was completed about eleven years ago, replacing an old 1920's vintage steel truss swing-span bridge... you can see the old swing-bridge abutment on the other side of the ICW, also with a couple of fishers on it.

The new Hobucken fixed-span bridge was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and was completed under-budget and ahead of schedule.

In order to avoid interfering with the heavy traffic on the ICW (or having the traffic interfere with it), the bridge was designed to span the ICW with no piers in the water, resulting in the longest bridge span in North Carolina.

Here is a USACE photo of the bridge nearing completion (you can see the Mayo docks, lower right of the bridge, and the U.S. Coast Guard Hobucken Station in the clearing to the left of the bridge... click image to enlarge), followed by a map of the location:

(Click image to enlarge)

Hobucken bridge over ICW, and R.E. Mayo & Co. fish-house locations:

View R.E. Mayo & Co. fish house, Hobucken NC in a larger map


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

9.29- Smith's Friendly Mini Mart

The old Smith's store in Mesic, NC

Mesic is an incorporated town in Pamlico County, NC with a population of fewer than 250 folks. It is just across Vandemere Creek from the town of Vandemere (see prior two posts) on the Bay River (see map, bottom of post)...

The information below is a summary of info I learned about Mesic and its families from the research and writings of Bill Smith (a.k.a. "Poppa Bear") of Mesic - my source is a very intriguing (if somewhat enigmatic) genealogical/history web site put together by Bill Smith bout his 11 year quest "In Search of Rodger - 1710-2009."

The above store (no longer in operation) is owned by the Smith family, descendants of "Maricay," b. 1710, a mestizo slave from Maracay, Venezuala who ended up as a slave of the Midyette family in Hyde County. (No doubt part of the same Midyette family which subsequently produced Oriental's founder Ropert P. Midyette, who in 1873 migrated from Dare County to purchase the land that eventually became the town of Oriental.)**

Maricay's son, Charles, married Elizabeth Jennett, who "was said to have been on the English slave ship Good Intent and ended up in Hyde County after the ship was wrecked near Cape Hatteras in 1767."

Charles and Elizabeth gave birth to their son "America" on July 4, 1776.

America, who was legally granted freedom by the Midyette family in 1808, was Poppa Bear's great-great-great-grandfather... America had 10 children, four of whom had been born before or during 1808... I have not yet found any mention about whether America's wife or children were also given their freedom in 1808.

It seems that many of Mesic's current residents, about 70% of whom are African-American, are descendants of slaves held by some of eastern NC's earliest European settlers (at least the ones that didn't mysteriously disappear) - including McCotter, Credle, Midyett, Green, Blunt, and O'Neal - whose surnames were adopted by their former slaves upon gaining their freedom, before and after the Civil War.

According to Poppa Bear;
"After the Civil War was over, some time in the late 1860's. Old man
Jacob McCotter needed farm hands to work his farms, so he hired a
large boat to bring some of our ancestors from Hyde Co. this boat
landed in Lowland. [Another ancestor,] Rodger [Smith] and his family
migrated to Pamlico Co. in the early 1880's. They also came by boat
and landed in Lowland...

"They worked on the area farms, clearing farm land digging drainage
canals and in the lumber camps. They worked hard from sun up to
sunset and saved what they could so that they could buy land and build
their homes..."
Mr. "Poppa-Bear" Smith's web site is chock full of fascinating documents (including copies of wills conveying his ancestors), historic photographs, oral histories and anecdotes related to his 11-year effort to to trace his family's ancestry to its African roots... As Mr. Smith quotes his Aunt Louisa (b. 1896.), "We've come a long way, children."

See Mr. "Poppa-Bear" Smith's family history web site at http://poppabear.org/

The official Town of Mesic website is at http://www.mesictownof.com/
Smith's Friendly Mini Mart location in Mesic, NC:

View Smith's Mini Mart, Mesic, NC in a larger map

** Yes, I know the "official" Oriental history published by the Oriental Tourism Board credits Louis B. Midyette with founding the town, but my research strongly suggests otherwise.


Monday, September 28, 2009

9,28- Summons to Ophelia?

"Exit" sign leading to a boat ramp in Vandmere

This sign made me think of Shakespeare's "Ophelia," Hamlet's love interest who escaped her hopelessness and Hamlet's increasing madness by descending into the waters of a stream, singing a last song as the weight of her clothing pulled her under.

Luckily, this boat ramp is used for much more cheerful purposes, like going fishing!

It is located at the end of First St. in Vandemere, between two fish-houses, the Pamlico Packing Co. (see yesterday's posting) and McCotter's Seafood Co.

I have read in various places that, at least in NC, where a public street ends at water it is normally presumed to be usable for public (i.e. free) access to the water.

It certainly appears that this ramp is at the terminus of First St. on the water (see photo, left)...

And the Pamlico County Tax office map shows First St. extending to the waterline (see below, click to enlarge, red parts added by me).

The Pamlico County tax map has, however, been known in the past to offer misleading depictions of taxable properties and street-ends) The map shows the property to the east of the ramp belonging to Pamlico Packing, and that west of the ramp to the heirs of H. Carawan, and the public right-of-way is shown going all the way to the water where the ramp is located.

But this ramp has an "honor-box" next to it (see below,) a sure sign that someone considers it to be a private ramp... no indication on the box as to who that might be - just a faint etching of "$5.00 RAMP FEE" (hard to see - click on image to enlarge)

Another Pamlico County street-end mystery... well, the deed searching on this one belongs to someone else.

Here is the spot on Google Maps:


Sunday, September 27, 2009

9.27- Vandemere fish-house

Ice-house at the Pamlico Packing Co. complex on First Street in Vandemere
(click on image to enlarge)
Today I took an afternoon drive to some parts of Pamlico County I have not previously visited by land.

This is one of the buildings at the "Pamlico Packing Co." fish-house complex on First Street in the town of Vandemere (population 289)(Vandemere town web site here), at the confluence of Vandemere Creek into Bay River (see map below). A "fish-house" is a place where commercial fishing vessels can dock and unload their catch for processing, packing and loading onto trucks for trans-shipment.

This building was (is?) apparently the ice-house on the complex... Commercial fishing vessels need vast quantities of ice in their holds to keep their catches fresh until they get back to the fish-house, so ice production is a standard function at fish-houses.

According to this New Bern Sun Journal article about Vandemere, the "Pamlico Packing Co." was formerly the "I.J. Packing Co." until purchased and renamed in 1941 by Earl Holton and his brother-in-law Robert Whorton (who also once owned a packing and canning company here in Oriental.)

I can find nothing about "Homer Wall," whom the sign on this building identifies as the owner of "Wall's." According to Pamlico County tax records, the part of the complex on which this building stands is owned by Pamlico Packing and "Vandemere Ice Co.," which NC Sec'y of State in turn indicates is still owned by the son-in-law of Earl Holton...

A local informed me the fish-house is still operational, though it looks to me like some of the buildings are not used very much, if at all.

The ice-house building is marked on the map below:

View Vandemere fish house in a larger map


Saturday, September 26, 2009

9.26- Seafood Chili

Mike's Seafood Chili
The annual Chili Cookoff was held today on the Tiki-Bar deck at the Oriental Marina & Inn. The cookoff is a fundraiser for Oriental's historic Old Theater, a really cool 1940's movie theater that has been converted into something of a performing arts venue... though old movies still occasionally grace the screen.

Tiki/Toucan cook and bartender Mike's entry was Seafood Chili made with local clams, crabs, mussels and shrimp from Oriental's own Fulcher Seafood Co.

I am sure my Texas friends and readers will cringe at this one... I myself could not muster the courage to sample the Seafood Chili, not being a big seafood fan (particularly concerning the clams and mussels.)

Once again this year, there was not a single example of "real" chili in the running... All of them included tomatoes/tomato sauce, various kinds of beans, and ground beef... two entries also included ground pork. After living 20+ years in South Texas, I am always surprised that other places in the South serve "Yankee-style chili" as the norm.

None of today's entries would've qualified as chili by Texas standards, but some of them tasted pretty good for whatever they were.

My favorite came from Eric Stickrath's "Broad Street Grill" ... Eric used Vidalia onions to give it a sweetness (but without refined sugar, which is often used in the cookoff chilis, cringe again) and contrasted that with chipotle flavor (although, alas, it came from a bottle of Tabasco-brand chipotle sauce rather than actual chipotle chiles.)

Eric got my vote for best, but failed to place in the contest.

This being a fishing village, Mike's Local Seafood Chili was a favorite, winning second place.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

9.24- Oil Spill

A town employee helps clean up after an oil spill on Raccoon Creek

An oil spill this afternoon had folks scrambling to sop up the mess.

I'm not sure what happened, but heard in passing that between one and four gallons of oil were involved.

A crew of workers from Bobby Cahoon Marine Construction joined town workers and other folks to capture oil in two booms, and hundreds of petroleum-absorbing "diapers" were laid down to soak up the oil.

This busy stretch of Raccoon Creek is no stranger to oil and fuel slicks, but this is the first time I have ever seen folks cleaning up the mess... Wish I saw this reaction each time.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

9.23- New deck-grippers

New Sperry Topsiders!

Just got some new "Sperry" top-siders from the "West Marine" store in New Bern!

Classic, never out of style!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

9.22- Candidate Forum

Owner/Editor of the local far-right "County Compass" newspaper keeps time during the Oriental town commissioners "candidates forum" at the historic town theater

Local MC celebre Jeff Aydellete hosted the only scheduled forum for candidates seeking election to the Oriental Board of Commissioners.

Jeff Aydellette recently started the "County Compass" weekly newspaper, and personally participated in and "reported on" the local anti-President Obama "Juggernut" group that was part of the "tea-party" protest in DC on Sept. 12 (a-la Fox News)

Mr. Aydellete and the "County Compass" have been heavy promoters of (and participants in) the anti-President Obama "Jugernut" campaign, with weekly "articles" and editorials promoting the group... here is (one of the many promotionals published by the paper) See the "Juggernut" anti-universal-health-care campaign web-site (with Uncle Sam telling you that not everyone should get health care.)

If you are not familiar with what the "tea party" movement stands for, you are not alone... the "tea party" folks seem to have the same problem:


Sunday, September 20, 2009

9.20- More Oriental Cup Regatta

Capt. Will Flannery and crew ferry two race markers out of Raccoon Creek to set up for the Oriental Cup regatta
In addition to setting up race courses, Capt. Will runs Offshore Rafting, specializing in North Carolina coastal adventures on the Zodiac pictured above... see Capt. Will's web site for more information.

I've had my hands full sorting and editing some of the hundreds of photos I took yesterday during the Oriental Cup Regatta, so today's picture comes from yesterday.

Check out more of my Oriental Cup Regatta pictures at my new blog;

Photo processing and setting up the new ODP-EXTRA blog page are causing some delays and hiccups... please be patient, and forgiving of the odd or non-working formatting you may see on ODP-EXTRA until I get things worked out.

More will be added soon, so please check back at "ODP Extra"


Saturday, September 19, 2009

9.19- Oriental Cup Regatta

"Sun Catcher" tacks around the marker in today's Oriental Cup Regatta
(click on any image to enlarge)

The annual "Oriental Cup" Regatta was held today on the River Neuse just off of Oriental harbor.

Unfortunately I was not crewing in the race today... but luckily I landed a spot on one of the "chase boats" so I was able to get some pics of the action from up close.

I'll have a ton more pictures processed soon, but in the meanwhile, here are a few more from today's regatta...

This O'Day 405's lay-line came up a tad short, prompting a last-second tack at the finish line:

(click any image to enlarge)

Here is a rare sight indeed... "Il Gatto"'s transom! ... Like the shirt, Cap'n!

"Valkyrie" racing in the Non-Spinnaker A Class race:

"Out of the Blue" maneuvers near the buoy for her start:

Two salty sailors from land-locked nations... Wisconsin and Bavaria:

I'll post more pictures from the regatta, along with results, when they're ready...


Thursday, September 17, 2009

9.17- OYC bulkhead repair

Bulkhead repair operations at the Oriental Yacht Club
(click to enlarge)

Capt. D and his crew are repairing an old bulkhead and walkway at the Oriental Yacht Club this week. In today's photo we see "Belle," the brown retriever of some sort or sorts, doing her part by carrying some of the debris away.

Capt. Hodges and First Mate "Fuzzy" are living aboard "Jenny," the 30-odd foot "Core-Sound" style shrimp boat (background, in today's photo) tied up on Raccoon Creek at the OYC during the job.

Capt. Hodges and crew are taking advantage of the break between brown shrimp season (waning) and white shrimp season (approaching) to do some marine construction jobs.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

9.12- Bauer Classic 10'

This Bauer Classic 10' shows a bow wave, but not threat of violating the
"Slow No Wake" zone near the Wildlife Ramp

(click on any image to enlarge)
I went by the Wildlife Ramp (public boat ramp) on Midyette St. in Oriental today, and was immediately attracted to this fine sailing dinghy being rigged while on its trailer before being launched into Smith's Creek.

I met Capt. Jack Russel ("like the dog," he explained) who confirmed my suspicion that the vessel was a Bauer (but I incorrectly thought it was a 12'), a boat in which I may often be seen sailing around Oriental waterways (see my profile picture, above left)... though I use a home-made, wooden-sparred sprit-rig, while Capt. Jack's boat came with the Bauer-manufactured aluminum "sliding gunter rig"

Capt. Jack, who lives in SC, had just purchased the boat, and was taking it out for a shake-down run.

As I have often experienced, this sharp sailing tender usually draws a crowd, and I was soon joined by recent Oriental immigrees Larry and Dawn (at right) in admiring her.

This Bauer sported glimmering bright-work on her teak transom, reinforced gunwales, thwarts, burden boards, rudder cheeks and teak/ash tiller.

At left Capt. Jack is assisted by his first mate (and sister) at the painter during the launch.

Once Capt. Jack was underway, raised his sails, and lowered his centerboard (which I suspect he may not have done as promptly as he might have wished), the boat and crew headed upwind, under the bridge, through the harbor and out onto the busy weekend traffic on the River Neuse:


Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9.9- Unilateral mid-race course change

"Maggie's Magic"(left) and "Il Gatto" (right) as seen from "Light Wind" during the Wednesday night beer-can race

Race Report:
The winds were in the 10 to 12 knot range, giving the Capt. and crew (including me) of the appropriately named "Light Wind" something of a chance of keeping up with the other, much longer vessels in this weeks informal Wednesday Night Race around the three gov.t markers near Oriental ("Oriental 1," "Adams Creek 1" and "Neuse River 7" a.k.a. "Garbacon Shoals").

For some reason the race started on a downwind leg from Oriental 1 towards AC1... normally the race starts at Oriental 1 and heads first towards the more windward of AC1 or NR7.

The two boats in today's picture had something of an advantage on "Light Wind" on the dead run towards AC1, but we were pleased to remain within striking distance of the leaders, knowing that "Il Gatto"s weakness was pointing upwind, while "Light Wind"s favored point of sail is close-hauled in 10 knot winds... giving us a good chance to catch up on the upwind leg from AC1 to NR7...

Sure enough, we rounded AC1 and steadily began catching up with "Il Gatto"... "Maggie's Magic" leaped far ahead of everyone, so the race to NR7 was on between "Il Gatto" and "Light Wind." This was all that mattered to us - a chance to whup ass on Capt. Joe.

While we were on our second (starboard) tack heading upwind towards NR7 after a port-side rounding of AC1, and "Il Gatto" was on her third (port) tack, we had her on a "constant bearing, diminishing range"...

The only question was who would cross whose bow, a bit hard to judge because of the distance, but we were on a starboard tack, so "Il Gatto" would have to give way and cross our stern if it was anything close... that would put us in position to tack on top of her and steal some of her wind until we were well ahead of her!

It seems Capt. and crew of the 30 foot Nonsuch "Il Gatto" were aware they were about to be passed by a 22 foot Catalina, so they came up with a strategy to avoid the embarrassment...

"Il Gatto"s Capt. Joe, the organizer of the un-organized race, decided to make an ad hoc change to the race course, unilaterally eliminating the NR7 leg of the race. We first suspected this when "Il Gatto" tacked again onto a course that did not appear headed to NR7. We then hailed her on the VHF, and asked for confirmation of the race course... We were told that it was from O1 to AC1 and back to O1, in a voice that feigned surprise that we had needed to ask (Maggie's Magic, the vessel on the left in the photo had by that time reached NR7, so we began to smell a rat)...

Our radioman responded with an ironic but unprintable remark concerning the appropriateness of a particular vernacular translation of the name of Capt. Joe's vessel.

It is unclear to us if Capt. Joe had even bothered to announce the mid-race change, since we were concentrating on trimming sails and pointing high more than we were on monitoring the VHF ... but even if he did announce it, sailboat racing rules require all course changes to be announced and confirmed prior to the start of a race.

As it was, "Light Wind" ended up crossing the NEW finish line a mere five minutes behind "Il Gatto" (about 6 to seven statute miles between start and finish)...

After "Il Gatto" lowered her sails, uh, I mean sail, and fired up her engine like a bunch of lubbers, we held ourselves a victory lap by beating up into Raccoon Creek for the post-race committee meeting at the Tiki-Bar... we topped it all off with a 9.8 "Bean"-scale landing* at the town dock under full sail and right in front of the awed and shamed faces of Capt. Joe and his crew, who were just sipping their first beers at the Tiki-Bar.

Our formal protest, and "Il Gatto"s varied excuses, were presented to the race committee on the Tiki-Bar deck... But since we were all splicing main-braces, no official decision was ever reached.

That's OK... we'll get her next time!

*note to non-local sailors - The "Bean" rating for landings falls within the realm of "local knowledge"... sail into to Oriental harbor, land at town dock and get a coffee across the street to find out more... but I will say that landing under sail earns extra points.


Friday, September 4, 2009

9.04- Super-yacht on "A-Dock"

"Patti Lou" tied up to A-dock
(click on image to enlarge)

We don't see a lot of yachts over 100' here in Oriental - they usually head down to Beaufort or up to Norfolk for stop-overs.

This foreign-flagged luxury yacht found a spot along "A" Dock at Oriental Harbor Marina this evening, and the crew quickly got to work getting the saltiness off the deck.

You can see a shot this 3,600 horsepower vessel underway (max. 22 kts.), and some interior shots, at her builder's web site:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

9.02- Wednesday Night Races

The Winner
(click image to enlarge)

I crewed on "Light Wind," a Catalina 22', for tonight's Wednesday night race.


The bad news: the above boat was the only other one participating.

Winds were definitely lively, but made for some fun sailing with a reefed main. You can't tell from the photo, but some of the waves were higher than the gunwales of the Catalina 22.

Unfortunately, the Captain Joe of "Il Gatto" was a "Gatto Assustado" this week, and bowed out of the weekly contest a couple of days ago, apparently afraid of a forecast of brisk wind and a bit of rain.

As he is sort of the "organizer" of the weekly un-organized race, no doubt some other boats followed his example.

Not us, however. The intrepid crew of "Light Wind" showed no fear, pounding into the four-foot swells and eating up the 25 knot gusts... We're not even sure if the boat above had come out for the race, but our taunting shouts prompted them to let us chase them along a shortened course from Oriental Marker One to Garbacon Shoals Marker and back.