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, May 23, 2010

5.23- Low waters uncover Oriental history

Scraps from the Roper Lumber Co. mill at the end of Midyette St.

When the wind blows hard out of the Southwest for several days, our local water levels go way down, as they get pushed out into Pamlico Sound.

Extremely low waters reveal a field of "slabs" off the end of Midyette St. - They are the round outside portions of logs that were sawn off (and discarded) in the initial stage of processing at the vast John L. Roper Lumber Co. sawmill that inhabited the site before burning down in the 1920's.

Also visible are the stumps of many pilings that made up the Co. docks at the present site of the NC Wildlife Ramp and the Oriental public "kayak" dock.

I was very careful walking around the normally submarine artifacts, as the shorelines of local creeks are habitat for water moccasins (and other less dangerous critters.)

Here I caught a shot of one snake slithering away amongst the slabs (at right)...

As I was processing these pics, however, I noticed that this snake (center of pic below) was not the only one around... in the water in the lower right corner, maybe a foot or so from my bare legs, was another one I had not noticed.

(click images for full size)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5.20- s/v "Rotop" at future Town Dock II

s/v "Rotop" tied up to the ruins of the old "Neuse Ways" piers at the South Avenue terminus, in the shadow of the still un-finished Point Pride Seafood fish-house (alleged) on Chadwick Point

Oriental fought a long legal battle over the terminus of South Ave. where it enters Raccoon Creek and Oriental harbor, but finally prevailed.

The land had long been leased to the "Neuse Ways" company, which ran a marine railway at the site.

"Rotop" captain  Martijn Dijkstra (vessel and capt. are Dutch) apparently heard the news on his latest visit to Oriental, and decided to move her from the notoriously shoaly town dock at Hodges St. to what many hope will be the future site of a second public town dock, which better accommodates her six foot draft.

You can read more about "Rotop" in this excellent Dec. 2008 report from the "Shipping News" column at TownDock.Net. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5.19 - Following the light of the sun

A brace of caravels makes its way up the ICW

While riding past the South Ave. waterfront, I saw this rather anachronistic sight on the River Neuse.

Guessing these vessels were headed north on the Intracoastal Waterway, I took a little drive up to Hobucken, hoping to intercept the pair and get a closer look.

Turns out they are the NiƱa and the Pinta, home port Wilmington Delaware, replicas of their namesakes built by The Columbus Foundation. You can read all about them and see plenty more pics at The Columbus Foundation website.   The schedule on the site shows that the ships were on their way to Philadelphia from their last stop in Georgetown SC.

Here are a couple more I took from the banks of the ICW ditch at Hobucken as the caravels headed past the R.E. Mayo & Co. fish-house docks, the Hobucken bridge and the Hobucken Coast Guard station:
(Click on any image for full size)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5.18 - New New Bern drawbridge

Traffic backs up as workers scramble to solve a problem with the new New Bern drawbridge

Today I had my first opportunity to cross the new drawbridge in the nearby Megatropolis of New Bern, NC.

Unfortunately, I was thwarted by apparent technical difficulties, and had to go back around through the city  to get back to Hwy. 17.

The old swing bridge that used to service this road was removed in 2007.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

5.15- s/v "Vagrant Gipsy"

Vagrant Gipsy visiting Oriental harbor

I went out sailing in the Bauer today and found this impressive 50-ton ketch on the hook in the harbor.  Fabulous vessel, and a really great name for a sailboat (see the poem by John Masefield below.)

I got the following info from a SailBlog her third owners created during a Caribbean cruise two years ago:

Vagrant Gipsy a custom built monohull, built in Belize in 1969 on a custom design by Sparkman Stephens. She is built of solid rich mahogany with a custom fireplace with copper hood. The interior consists of two large staterooms both with king size berths. She will comfortably sleep 7 people... She is an ocean going vessle and has been across the Atlantic twice and spent time in the Mediterranean. Captain Skip, spent eight years restoring the Gipsy on the Tennessee River near his home. She was brought down the Tom Bigby Waterway to Mobile and then by intercoastal waterway to Appalachicola, FL, where she crossed the Gulf to Tarpon Springs, FL and spent her first hurricane season there. 
 There are a couple nice pics of Vagrant Gipsy under sail in a Regatta at George Town on this page of their SailBlog.  From there you can explore their other pages, which include some other photos of her cockpit, cabin, etc. 

I Must Go Down to the Sea 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
- John Masefield


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

5.12- The one that got away

Hooked cow-nosed ray resisting at the breakwater
(click image to enlarge)

This guy hooked a cow-nosed ray (also known locally as a "skate," which it is not, or a "pancake tarpon" due to frequency tarpon anglers hook them) and fought a forty minute battle, beginning at the end of the Lou-Mac fishing pier and ending on the South Ave. breakwater nearby.

His buddy came down with pliers ready, but a couple seconds after this photo, the ray succeeded in parting the line, and swam off with the fisherman's rig still hooked in its mouth.  

You can just make out the flat head of the ray and its right eye amid the splashing.


Monday, May 10, 2010

5.10 - Feeding time

Sophie succumbs to her hungry litter

OK, this doesn't really qualify for the City Daily Photo criteria, but I simply couldn't resist.

Remember, I am the Godfather of this litter, and I thought it was time to check back in with them.
The kittens are growing, and it looks a bit like Sophie is shrinking a bit.  Little wonder, considering the litter does this to her at every opportunity.


5.10- Oriental in the battle zone

U.S. Marines perform "urban environment" targeting
(with an assist by the entire Oriental Police Force)

Oriental has been inundated with small teams of Marines from Camp Lejeune to practice forward targeting for airstrikes in an "urban environment."  Hmm... Oriental, population 875... Go figure.

Lots and lots of aircraft overhead (sometimes barely) and groups of Marines sprinkled around town, including this team at a picnic table on the lawn of the Neuse Suites hotel.

I had read in the local paper an announcement that the maneuvers would be taking place, but I swear it also said they would not be in uniform... I'm no expert, but seems to me BDUs and Flak jackets should count as "uniforms."

Plenty of choppers, but since I didn't hear the Ride of the Valkyries blasting from them, I wasn't too worried.

Until I saw  in the Marine's van parked the South Ave. waterfront this crate marked "WPNS":

At that point I decided to head indoors and leave the field of battle.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

4.17 - The front row

Evening view of the Oriental harbor anchorage from the Oriental Yacht Club building
The northern migration of cruising sailboats continues to keep Oriental's anchorage a busy place.

If you know the right people you can get one of these front row seats for all the anchoring action plus a great sunset view.

I love the "Mad Men" chairs.


Monday, April 12, 2010

4.12- Crimson Permanent Assurance

Commercial trawler undergoing extensive repairs at Chris Fulcher's Point Pride Seafood docks (located on Chadwick Point)
Local shrimp-baron Chris Fulcher has been renovating some trawlers at his docks during the past couple of years... Looks like he buys pretty decrepit vessels, guts em and puts in all new everything.

When it comes time for sandblasting, painting, or installing super-secret shrimp boat technology, the boats are enshrouded in these canvas/dacron sail-looking cloths ...
When the wind blows and the wrappings shiver, it always make me think of "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" building after its aging clerks mutiny and go pirating through the financial district in the short Terry Gilliam film at the beginning of Monty Python's "Meaning of Life":


Sunday, April 11, 2010

4.11- Reef construction

Dredging barge working on the construction of an artificial reef in the Neuse River just off from Oriental 
(click image to enlarge)
An old artificial reef about half a mile off of Oriental's Whitehurst Point (mouth of Pierce's Creek) is undergoing a major expansion thanks to the Town's raising donations and grant funding for the project.

The old artificial reef at the site was built during that unfortunate era when it was common to use old automobile tires as the reef material - 22,000 tires were dumped in the river at this location.

The idea was we could get rid of all those old tires that would go to a landfill or tire mountain, and at the same time create a fish-friendly reef... Turns out tires reefs don't provide good platforms for immobile organisms and therefore don't end up attracting many fish - also the tires don't stay in place very well, and get spread out all over the place by storms.

The new expansion project will be using marl and concrete "reef balls" - kind of like giant concrete wiffle balls - to create the new hard-surfaces immobile creatures and oysters enjoy, and plenty of hidey holes that fish will hopefully adopt as their new homes.  It also looks like there are some large concrete structures like highway dividers or hog slats on the barge. 
The yellow buoy demarcates a corner of the reef area.  The green buoy in the foreground is one of the new buoys recently added to the channel into Whittaker's Creek.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

4.10- s/v "Kava"

Kava sails out of Raccoon Creek into Oriental Harbor

Sailing students on board "Kava," one of vessels in the Oriental School of Sailing fleet, were performing quick-tack and jibe maneuvers in the narrow confines of Raccoon Creek today.
Here she is running out of the creek past Chadwick Point.

The Oriental School of Sailing has a small fleet of sailboats, all the same color (matching the trademark red of shrimp-baron Chris Fulcher's fleet of trawlers, background), and one or two or more of them are out almost every day during the spring and summer as part of their Basic Keelboat Certification training.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

4.3 - Fresh cats

Another sure sign of spring

Today my neighbors went off on their annual visit to Swan Island, and left me in charge of hundreds of seedlings and small plants, as well as three cats.

Within two hours after they left, I found that the three cats were now seven.

Luckily momma cats pretty much take care of it all, so I think I can bear with the unexpected extra duties.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2.23 - Olympics at the Orietnal Steamer

Olympics at the Oriental Steamer
Winter Olympics means it is the slow times for the local visitor-oriented businesses, including this one, the Oriental Steamer Restaurant and Bar.

Like the B&Bs, hotels, other restaurants etc., the Steamer depends on the visitor-heavy summer months to support staying open during the slow off-season. If you do visit hear in the off-season, the Steamer is pretty much the only place you will find people outside of their homes past 10:00 pm.

"The Steamer" as it is universally called, is pretty much the only bar in town that remains open nightly until the NC state law 2:00 am closing time (others close at nine, ten or midnight). It has a fully stocked bar, a selection of decent wines, and a mediocre standard selection of draft and bottled beers. Three TVs behind the bar make it perfect for viewing sporting events.

After the restaurant closes at 10:00 the Steamer continues to serve a small but tasty bar menu... This is your only choice for prepared food without driving 45 minutes to New Bern. Chef Jeff serves up pizza, buffalo wings, nachos etc. pretty much up till 2:00 am if you ask him real nice.

... but if you are headed to ONC and want a post-midnight beer, drink and/or knosh at the Steamer, you may want to call them ahead and let them know you're coming, cuz they will close earlier if it looks like nobody is.

The draft Yeungling is a good deal at $2.00, and is my drink of choice when there.

Monday, February 22, 2010

2.22- Oxyura jamaicensis

Rainy day and Ruddy Duck on Oriental harbor

Today's pic brings yet another avian migratory sign of springtime on its way.

The blue bill of the Ruddy Duck indicate that it is a breeding male on his migration to breeding grounds up north or out west.

Ruddy Ducks winter across the South, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. States, and they live year-round in the Southwest.

Breeding primarily takes place out on western planes, sierras and mountains along a great swath from the Texas panhandle to the Canadian border with Alaska.

Some populations also breed along the St. Lawrence waterways between New England and Canada, but apparently chances are good this particular bird is taking the longer migration out west.

That's one new bird for my list, and two birds in a row with "jamaicensis" in their scientific nomenclature.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2.18- Buteo jamaicensis

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk perched on the small boat pier on Smith's Creek
(click image to enlarge)

Right next to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission public boat ramp at the end of Midyette Street.

A lot of kayakers and dinghy sailors prefer to avoid the traffic of the bigger boats putting in and hauling out at the Wildlife ramp, and instead use this Town-owned small boat pier 30 yards across the parking lot.

The hawk tolerated me from a distance while it (and I) awaited some prey to scurry across the parking lot ... unfortunately the first mammal to happen along was a dog, and the bird apparently had not enough taste for dog to attempt any violence, and instead took flight.


Monday, February 15, 2010

2.15- Breakwater repairs

Boulders being dropped at the end of the Oriental harbor breakwater

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun repairs to Oriental harbor's breakwater.

I knew they were scheduled to build up a subsided length of the breakwater (which disappears in high water) but was surprised to find them apparently lengthening the structure.

The gap between the end of the breakwater and Oriental Marker No. 8 (beyond the crane you can see the red light attached to the marker) is known to many locals as "Ralph's Channel," owing to Capt. Ralph's propensity for sailing boats between the two unforgiving obstacles rather than rounding outside the marker.

When he returns from his current sea voyage, Capt. Ralph will find a little less room for error in his channel.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

2.14- Snowmelt

Icicles form as snow melts from a roof of the Oriental Yacht Club

Unfortunately I missed the big snow day here in Oriental yesterday.

But there was still plenty of snow around today, though it was quickly reverting to a liquid state as the day progressed.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

1.10- Two+ years of Lou-Mac fishing pier

A piling being placed to support the fishing pier

Today's feature photo comes from November of 2007, as Broad Creek Construction continued work on the town's fishing pier at Lou-Mac Park in Oriental.

Construction began in October of 2007 - at right and below left, and was completed around the end of November.

For over two years, Oriental residents and visitors have been drawn to the pier, whether to fish or to gaze at the broad expanse of the River Neuse from the vantage point 120 feet from the shore.

The pier has proven to be a popular addition to the Oriental's list of public water access points... a list I certainly hope will grow in the future.

Here are a couple more shots of the pier under construction, followed by some links to my prior postings with pictures taken of or from the pier.

(click any image to enlarge)

Jun 10, 2009
10.15- great blue heron at sunset
Oct 15, 2008
7.15- flying fish lure
Jul 15, 2009
11.19- snow flurries
Nov 19, 2008
Oct 16, 2008
6.30- Fresh Croaker
Tuesday July 1, 2008


Thursday, January 7, 2010

1.07- ... on a river far, far away...

Commercial trawler coming up the Neuse from Pamlico Sound

Today's ODP Classic comes from December or January of 2007.

The "X-wing" effect is caused by refraction of the trawler's extended outriggers.


Monday, January 4, 2010

1.04- Free-climbing the mast

Oriental Daily Photo - Classics & Out-takes Series

Free-climbing the newly-stepped mast
(click on any image to enlarge)

Two years ago this past November, this French Captain and his crew arrived in Oriental after acquiring an impressive Wharram-designed but never-completed catamaran (at right) in Canada.

Mission: pick up boat, find a mast to fit it, and sail back to France.

They ended up at Sailcraft Service boatyard here in the ONC to re-furbish, re-rig and step a suitable mast they had located.

While this was the first sailing adventure for the crew (the Capt.'s wife, young toddler son, baby daughter and a complete lubber friend), the Captain was a salty fellow, indeed.

Sailcraft's professional riggers used a crane mounted on the Travel-lift to raise the impressive spar (at left) and gently lower it into position (at right), with active assistance by the Capt. and the usual crowd of Oriental's un-paid but very expert volunteers watching from the dock with appropriate advice.

Once the mast was stepped and its rake properly adjusted, some of the crane rigging became fouled in the shrouds... The Sailcraft riggers had a ladder on hand, and climbed to its top to try and un-foul the line, but alas it was too short to reach.

(click on any image to enlarge)

There was some discussion of fetching a taller ladder, but the Capt. merely "oh-lah-lah"'ed, then leapt onto the mast and shimmied up a good twenty feet to free the line (left).

A couple weeks later, Capt. and crew were out in a fresh breeze on the River Neuse for a brief shake-down (below) and by January they sailed off for the rest of their adventure. Godspeed.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

1.03- Hate it when that happens

Oriental Daily Photo - Classics & Out-takes Series
(read more about this series here)

Dock-side sinking

This ODP classic disaster shot comes from fall of 2007... I'm pretty sure I was the first person to notice this submarine Catalina at the Oriental Yacht Club that day, but others quickly followed.

OYC dockmaster and "Girlfriend" Captain Les Evans (grasping the port shrouds, above) and crew were quickly on-site, and got to work fothering the open transom and pumping out the distressed vessel, whose captain was away in Croatia at the time.


Friday, January 1, 2010

1.01- Avec les Bons Voeux

My traditional New Years meal

Black-eyed peas for good luck; collard greens for prosperity; ham-hocks, corn-bread, Texas Pete (from NC) and vinegars of choice for added flavor; and "Avec Les Bons Voeux" ("With Good Wishes") from Brasserie Dupont to wash it all down.

Happy 2010 to all!