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Southbound ’17 – Travel Day 14: Columbia, NC To Belhaven, NC

Southbound ’17 – Travel Day 14: Columbia, NC to Belhaven, NC

FROM: The Captain

Conditions: Sun, chilly.  Winds from the north/northwest 5 kt. Seas calm

Distance traveled: 54.6 statute miles

Time underway: 5 hours

Average Speed: 10.9 mph 

Max Speed: 23.2 mph

Fuel used: 56 gallons

Another delightful day on the water – and I don’t toss around the word delightful easily.  While I was out walking Jasper pre-departure this morning Pauly snuck off to pick up some delicious breakfast sammies full of southern goodness.  We hailed the Alligator River bridge as we were outbound from the marina at 7:30 am and the bridge tender was cheery in his response that he’d be ready for us when we arrived at the western span of this swing bridge that brings us to the lower end of the river on our way to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, another one of my favorite parts of this trip.
The long and narrow Alligator River-Pungo River Canal and Spirit off our starboard bow
This leg of the trip takes you more west than south – but you’ve gotta go west (young man) to go south on the ICW – and the canal is twenty miles long, narrow and straight.  A bald eagle welcomed us to this spectacular cut of water where there is nothing but nature and no cell service for miles.  Perfect.  It’s also very quiet on this part of the waterway this time of year and we encountered only a couple of pleasure boats including the beautiful Spirit who, when asked, “where are you heading?” responded only, “south!”  Pretty much our response when we’re asked the same question.
You don’t typically see a lot of billboards along the waterway but right on the canal was an advertisement for our stop for the night

It was an easy run to Belhaven, NC, our first time here.  River Forest Marina has a reputation for making you feel like family from the moment of first contact and that reputation is well-deserved.  Dockmaster Henry Boyd and our dockhand Josh greeted us like old friends coming home.  Boating and southern charm at its best.

Built more than a century ago, the River Forest Manor & Marina has been exquisitely restored to its former glory. Perfectly poised on the coastal estuary of the Pamlico Sound, Pantego Creek, and Pungo River, the grand Victorian mansion offers water views as far as the eye can see.

Belhaven is a wonderful, small town and calls itself “the birthplace of the ICW.” In 1928 the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal was completed and opened – the last remaining link to complete the ICW from Norfolk to Miami.  It was a big deal when that happened with 20,000 people present for the opening festivities.
Spectacular Belhaven sunset
Belhaven was one of our favorite stops so far on this journey, largely due to our dinner experience at Spoon River which was so special that it requires its own seefare entry that you must look out for.
Oriental, NC is next, complete with a special treat for Jasper…  See you there.
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