Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Please Note That Postings Below From Fellow Cruisers Are Listed in Chronological Order, Based on Publication Date
Yellow Background Denotes Navigation Alert Postings
Well deserved praise for a fine owner-operated marina! Alligator River Marina lies on the western shore of the mouth of the Alligator River/AICW, just north of the swing bridge and southwest of flashing daybeacon #12. This facility provides the ONLY readily available dockage and fuel along the patch of the AICW between Coinjock, Elizabeth City and Dowry Creek/Belhaven!
We stayed at the Alligator River Marina in early October and found both the staff and the facilities to be great. We used their ramp to launch our 22 ft sailboat and stayed for two nights at the marina while sailing on the Alligator River and touring the nearby Alligator Wildlife Refuge. (We saw a mother black bear and two cubs playing in the road while in the Refuge.) Upon our arrival at the marina one of the staff members even assisted me in lifting our outboard motor onto its mount. Although we came prepared to cook meals on our boat the food and service at the marina grill was so good that we quickly changed plans. As long as they had extra slips they spaced the boats out in the marina so that we all had plenty of privacy. As noted by one of the other reviewers there was a beautiful moon out over the Alligator River on our first night there. Mrs. Wanda and the staff went out of their way to make our stay a pleasant one.
Philip & Genie Safriet – The Venture
One of the oldest and most beautifully located marinas in NC, River Forest Manor and Marina, under new ownership, will begin hotel and dock renovations in December after the Fall migration has ended. Until then, they do have fuel and transient slips. River Forest Marina is located on the northeastern shores of Pantego Creek, just northwest of the creek’s breakwater enclosed entrance.
River Forest Marina has been sold and is now River Forest Manor and Marina, #252-943-0030. They do sell fuel but are renovating the marina and hotel. They will start construction on the docks after the traffic goes through about December 15th. Their email is email@example.com.
River Forest Marina is still operating but only for boat services [including transient slips] and repairs.
And Dockmaster Henry Boyd provided more details:
Thanks for your phone call and email. On 10/23/2014, the historic River Forest Manor and Marina was purchased by a 10 member LLC with the purpose of renovating the existing facilities. Our first priority is the Marina building and docks. Construction began on 10/27/2014. We are upgrading the Marina dock house with a new exterior, including new windows and doors, new decking, renovating the bathrooms /showers, marina office, and adding laundry equipment. The main dock is operational, but upgrades will be added in the next several weeks. Both diesel fuel and gas are available now together with Wi-Fi and city water. Our gas is non-ethanol 89 octane. 30/50/ and 100 amp electrical service are available. Pump out should be operational by next week. Our goal is to provide excellent service and value for our guests. The 10 LLC members have a connection to Belhaven either by living here or are from here.Thus our reputation is on the line. Our new telephone number is 252-943-0030 and my cell is 252-943-1937. Call ahead for fuel pricing, We want to be competitive. Current dockage is $1.50 a foot. Long term dockage will be available soon, once renovations are complete to our second dock.
As a further note, Belhaven is the birthplace of the Intercoastal waterway. (see your article: http://cruisersnet.net/belhaven ). This past September was the 86th anniversary. Belhaven has had an annual celebration beginning last year with plans to commemorate annually.
Our thanks to Skipper Dammeyer for sharing his experiences and advice with these two bridges in reference to an earlier report, http://cruisersnet.net/?p=125800. Wilkerson Creek Bridge, at Statute Mile 126, is generally accepted to be only 64ft and SSECN has recommended low to mid tide for vessels needing the full 65ft clearance. Fairfield Bridge with a vertical clearance of 65ft crosses the ICW at Statute Mile 114, west of the charted Fairfield Canal.
We passed under the Fairfield and Wilkerson bridges yesterday Sept. 29 and dragged our antennas under both. This is our third trip South on the ICW with our Catalina 445, with air draft of theoretical 63′ 10″. We did several tricks to heel the boat over and didn’t do any damage. There are no bridge boards at Fairfield and Wilkerson was reading just below the middle of 64. We did not expect to touch Fairfield, but were prepared to heal at Wilkerson. Water levels are high right now so know your air draft and be cautious.
And this Facebook local knowledge comment from Skipper Friedrich:
There is no lunar tide in this area, so you cannot plan ahead for low water here. The wind tide can be a foot or more. We have experienced high water here in Belhaven for several weeks.
As we have said many times, it’s always good to hear good things about Miss Wanda and her crew! Alligator River Marina lies on the western shore of the mouth of the Alligator River/AICW, just north of the swing bridge and southwest of flashing daybeacon #12. This facility provides the ONLY readily available dockage and fuel along the patch of the AICW between Coinjock, Elizabeth City and Dowry Creek/Belhaven!
We stayed in Alligator River Marina for the first time June 11 and 12, 2014. The entrance is well marked. The 17 or so individual docks are on starboard as you enter. The first few are longer and have four posts on each side. The smaller docks are further in and have three posts on each side. Most of the posts have cleats on them. The bulkhead is supported by a line or rip-rap so be careful backing in. The piers are about 25 feet long. The rest of the marina has alongside tie-up with ample power stations.
A slender man named Logan came to greet us and help with our lines. I could hear the hospitality in his southern drawl. He was knowledgeable about clove-hiches and spring lines.
We met Wanda in the restaurant and she was sweet as southern tea to us. She told of the recent death of a local favorite alligator called ‘Cheeseburger”. He had wandered onto the highway one night and was hit by a passing car. Pictures on the wall of the restaurant tell the story of him and the many black bears that live nearby.
They have free Wi-Fi but we never used it. We did use the roomy boater’s lounge with Dish TV. The restrooms, washers/dryers are in the same house north of the boat ramp.
I loved watching the moonrise at the end of the long pier that looks over the river.
We recommend this marina and hope to get back in the fall.
On our way North this spring we attempted to anchor in the alligator river but the wind was too strong and getting stronger – the radio was busy with boaters looking for alternatives – we hailed the marina and were told there was plenty of room with a side too tie up we requested. The marina is very sheltered and well taken care of – Wanda is great – and for all those who still like good old fashioned marketing and customer service I got a card from Wanda thanking me for using the marina!!!!
Wells Moore “Flying Corgi”
A reminder to everyone that the location of markers through this stretch does not coincide with older charts or with the Magenta line. Our oft repeated advice: follow the markers, not the Magenta line! Smaller buoys are often difficult to spot and require a reduction in speed and a sharp lookout!
For more comments on the area, see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=125911 and http://cruisersnet.net/?p=101600 and http://cruisersnet.net/?p=56971.
Temporary floating red buoy! Didn’t go aground but S/V ahead of us did! Slow and easy!
Vidant Pungo Hospital is a private, not-for-profit 49-bed acute care hospital on the waterfront in Belhaven. Scheduled to be closing on April 1, 2014, there is now a possibility that the hospital facility may be saved. Roger Long sends news from StoryofAmerica.org stating that talks are underway to negotiate a settlement forestalling the closure. Go to http://www.storyofamerica.org/belhaven1
March 17, 2014
There is hope for the hospital.
March 12, 2014
Cruisers with potential medical issues should be aware that may soon be over 100 miles from emergency care even after they get ashore in the Pungo Canal area.
These reviews of Spoon River restaurant come to us from our friends at Cruisers Forum (http://www.cruisersforum.com/). Spoon River Restaurant has only been in business a little over a year and is open seven days a week. They are located just off the waterfront and are listed as:
Spoon River Artworks and Market
263 Pamlico St, Belhaven, NC
And their Facebook address is:
My wife and I just had dinner at Spoon River restaurant in Belhaven, NC.
It was one of the top 5 meals I have ever had a chance to sit down to. To put things into perspective, I regularly eat at the finest chophouses and seafood restaurants in the world entertaining clients and enjoying the fruits of our sales channels…. on the company dime… DC, NY, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philly, DC, London, MX City, Paris, Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Dubai, etc… So, we spare no expense. I am a snob and this makes me highly qualified in this regard
The encore to this awesome meal was the pricing which BLEW us away. For 2 person meal that would have easily cost us 250 in DC, including a very good bottle of wine, full meals, and deserts that were so big we could not finish them…. 75.
So, we highly recommend the unexpected pleasure in Belhaven.
We live nearby and can second that report.
We had lunch there this fall and were quite impressed both with the food, and with the reasonable prices.
My only suggestion would be for an improvement in the wait staff. The young gentleman that served us could certainly have been more attentive.
Still highly recommended!
We had three meals at Spoon River (northbound in the spring and back in the fall) and we are just constantly amazed by the quality, presentation and service they provide. Small town, BIG surprise. We will be back.
Belhaven Waterway Marina is on the northeast side of the channel into Belhaven and Pantego Creek which lies to the west of Waterway statute mile 135.
Stayed here on 12/31/13. This was our first stay here but it won’t be our last. I Like this marina best in the Belhaven area. Nice couple running this Marina and they keep it very clean. It’s right downtown with several restaurants close by. We spent New Year Eve at Jacks. It is a great restaurant and bar.
Alligator River/Bear Point Anchorage flanks the northern side of the Waterway, north of AICW markers #45 and #47. The anchorage lies east of the northern entrance to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal portion of the Waterway.
We anchored here on 12/30/13. It was our second time anchoring in this spot. I really like this spot for the fact its right off the waterway. Just pull over between red beacon #46 and Bear Point. It is a muddy bottom and we were in 7 ft. of water. However both times we were there it was calm winds. I wouldn’t anchor here with strong winds from the south,east or west.
Little Alligator River is the northernmost AICW anchorage, short of the often choppy (read that as “downright rough”) Albemarle Sound. Of course, you can always choose to berth at Alligator River Marina, just north of the bridge (a. k. a. “Miss Wanda’s place), or, on the opposite banks, “South Lake” is a real possibility as well.
Spent a night here in Oct. 2013. We had a NE wind about 15 knts. so we went all the way in just around Rocky pt. and anchored in 7 ft. of water. Had no problems. Two other boats spent the night with us. Did have lots of crab pots at the mouth. Just follow your chart plotter and the depths will match whats on the chart. At least my did. All in all I would rate this as a good anchorage.
Claiborne, We often use this anchorage and prefer to anchor past Mill Point in the 8 foot area for better protection. We have sat out some nasty weather here comfortably.
Chuck and Susan. Trawler Beach House
Belhaven Town Dock is just west of Belhaven Waterway Marina on your starboard side of the Pantego Creek channel. For questions about docking at the Town Dock, contact Les Porter, Harbor Master at Belhaven Waterway Marina, as well as Dock Master of the Town Dock, at 252-944-0066.
Stayed at Belhaven town docks 11/9/2013. The entrance is directly above the Waterway Marina. You must navigate between a group of old pilings to reach the long face dock. The first length of dock has a low wooden fence and we were told it is for short tie ups only (a pump out is in this area). As you continue in the basin there are electric & water connections. Looks like there may be space for five or six vessels. We saw depths at the seven and eight foot levels.
Earlier we had attempted to phone the dock master but couldn’t contact anyone. Shortly after we finished docking the dock master came over and said we should expect a few more vessels and should be ready for tight quarters. The fee was $1.00/ft and included electric and water. Self operated pump out was via a $5.00 token. The dock master said the town had yet to post any signs or entrance aids at this dock.
The docking was fine although no other vessels ever showed up. The dock master mentioned the “new free” docks so we thought we would check them out as we took a walking tour of town. We walked the river front all the way out of town till we reached a fenced commercial facility about 1/2 mile out of town. We took several grassy paths out towards the river but never located these new docks.
The town itself appears a little down on its luck as though “its time had passed”. The few people we encountered on the street were friendly as was the dock master.
We are once again greatly indebted to Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing the superb article below concerning a perennial AICW Problem Stretch. Happily, it looks like this veteran cruising duo have reasonably good news to report. THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN! Please read on!
We just came down the Alligator River and wanted to give you a report on the current channel conditions. Just as with our northbound transit, we found no problems and plenty of water, as long as you DON’T follow the magenta line. There are a great deal of floats in the vicinity of green “3″ and a sharp lookout is prudent. In the channel running from red daymarker “8″ to the floating red nun “8A,” the least depths we saw were 9.5 feet and that was near red “8.” The depths in the rest of the channel were 11 to 12 feet. This is very straightforward as long as the markers are observed and not the chart. We’ll keep you posted as we head south.
Chuck and Susan,
Trawler Beach House
If you carry a height of 65 feet, then you will want to plan your passage for mid to low tide through this bridge, since charts mark this bridge as 64 feet at mean high water. Wilkerson Creek Bridge crosses the southern foot of the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal portion of the AICW at Statute Mile 126, east of marker #27.
Clearance 10/20/13, 1230, 64 ft
Michael Powers s/v second flight
The Belhaven Cooperage Town Dock is found just upstream of Pantego Creek red marker #12, on the north shore. This free dock is not be confused with the Wynne Gut Belhaven Town Dock, farther downstream, where fees do apply. See http://cruisersnet.net/?p=124114.
Pantego Creek anchorage lies west-southwest of marker #8.
We stopped in Belhaven last week and were somewhat disappointed in the new free docks. They are rather isolated and because there are no lights there, we were concerned about safety at night. Also completely covered in bird poo, so we decided to anchor instead. We did dinghy in and found that they have put in some really nice new restaurants. Perhaps the waterfront will make a come back. It is a shame that they didn’t put more thought into the new docks.
Walter Smith s/v Salt Shaker
Those of you who have been following the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net know we published a major article/editorial last week (on 9/19/13), verifying the polices in place for the Belhaven Town Dock on Wynne’s Gut. Partly due to all the discussion raised around this posting, and the negative reviews which appeared on OTHER, non-moderated nautical web sites and forums, and partly due to the happy news that Belhaven has now completed a SECOND town dock, the decision has been made to completely revise the dockage pricing, and clearly set forth maximum stay limits, for both Town Docks.
This posting completely supercedes our SSECN article of 9/19/13, and that story has been discontinued.
First, the bad news. There are no more free overnight stays allowed at the original Belhaven Town Dock on Wynne’s Gut. Instead, as you will see below in the note from Captain Les Porter, dockage at this facility now costs $1.00 per foot, per night, with an additional charge of $5.00 per night for a single 30 amp power hookup. A maximum stay of 72 hours is allowed. The Wynne’s Gut dock has the advantage of being located in the heart of downtown Belhaven, with its several restaurants only a few steps away.
The new Belhaven town dock, which shall hereafter be referred to as the “Belhaven Cooperage Town Dock” is located farther upstream on Pantego Creek, a short hop from marker #12. Overnight dockage at this new facility is currently free, with a maximum stay of 72 hours allowed. Berths here are composed of finger-pier type piers, set onto a fixed wooden dock. No power or water connections are yet available, though the town of Belhaven hopes to add these services soon. Cruisers should also know that it is a 5 block walk into downtown Belhaven, from the Cooperage Dock. This is still very do-able, but not as convenient as the Wynne’s Gut dock.
We are honored that the town of Belhaven has chosen the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net as the FIRST means of relaying their new dockage policy to the cruising community!
The town manager and I have reviewed the recent concerns from the skippers with the early check out times (9am-11am) and the short length of stay allowed for free at the Wynne’s Gut town docks.
In an effort to allow a longer stay and a later check out time we have moved our free dock location to the newly constructed Cooperage Town docks and have changed our policies to the following:
Our Belhaven Town docks at the Wynne’s Gut location on Pantego Creek are now rented at a daily rate of $1.00 per foot, per night with a maximum stay of three nights. Electrical is $5.00 for a single 30 amp hook up and water is available. Registration is required upon arrival and the check out time is 11:00am. Dockage is along side with tall pilings and the controlling depth is 6 feet. The docks are located just 100 yards past the green number 9 day marker and on the North shore in Wynne’s Gut.
Our Belhaven Town free docks are now located at the Cooperage landing on Pantego Creek just past the red number 12 day marker and 100 yards to the north shore. This site has newly constructed fixed docks with slips having finger piers and pilings, no water and no electrical. Controlling depth is 7 feet. The docks are available on a first come first serve basis with a maximum stay of 72 hours.
Thank you for all your help Claiborne,
I am sorry to report that, after a telephone conversation with a reliable, local source in Belhaven, Captain Styon’s description below of the Belhaven “Cooperage Town Dock” is accurate. Cruisers will want to take all these unfortunate characteristics in mind before deciding to coil their lines here.
I rode to Belhaven by car last Wednesday to check out the docks, as we were planning a trip and this was on our list of stops. Boy am I glad I did! There are no free docks down town. They are as you said 1.00 per foot plus power. The free docks are a long way from town. I have hard time calling these town docks. They are up a path I wouldn’t think about walking at night. The docks were completely covered with sea gull poop! No lights. I can not imagine someone staying at these docks. I would feel munch safer anchored. Our new plan is skip Belhaven.
WOW! People actually complaining about not getting a free dock?? Has anyone tried to get a permit for a dock lately? And why threaten to skip these small towns and not help them pay for the upkeep of their docks. Will you be happy when no shoreside facilities are available to us transients.
River Forest Marina, a well known stop on the AICW, lies on the northeastern shores of Pantego Creek, just northwest of the creek’s breakwater entrance to Belhaven. A phone call to Axson Smith, the marina owner/manager, confirmed that – CONTRARY TO THE REPORT BELOW – the marina is definitely open for business. Phone ahead, 252-943-2151 and let Axson know you are coming. All incoming calls are forwarded to Axson’s cell phone and he lives on the property. The on-site River Forest Restaurant and Inn are for sale, but the marina and nearby repair – boatyard will be kept open.
Rumors this marina is out of business seem to be true. Was just in Belhaven last week and visited them to see for myself. For sale signs up on the property and no one to be found on the property. The local townspeople had mixed reviews of the status of this facility. Some say it has been sold and others say it is still on the market at a reduced price. Either way a visiting boater would be better off staying at the town docks or the Belhaven Waterway Marina. Sad as I recall this marina from years ago as a thriving must stop for Snowbirds and the cruising boaters.
Pungo Creek makes into the western banks of the Pungo River, a short hop south of the charming community of Belhaven, NC, on Pantego Creek, and west-northwest of the AICW’s marker #8. This is a surprisingly wide stream, but with excellent depths.
A bit off the beaten track but a great place. Better shelter from East winds can be found a bit West, closer to the fixed bridge.
We are very pleased to present the article below, authored by our good friends, Captains Chuck Baier and Susan Landry, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com). They provide a really in-depth look at the strategically placed, but navigationally challenging Little Alligator River Anchorage.
In fact, Little Alligator River is the northernmost AICW anchorage, short of the often choppy (read that as “downright rough”) Albemarle Sound. Of course, you can always choose to berth at Alligator River Marina, just north of the bridge (a. k. a. “Miss Wanda’s place), or, on the opposite banks, “South Lake” is a real possibility as well.
Many cruisers, however, make the same choice as Susan and Chuck and set their bows for Little Alligator River. Read the article below, and learn a LOT more about what you are likely to discover!
The Little Alligator River anchorage is an excellent spot to wait out weather for either crossing the Albemarle Sound or heading south on the Alligator River. Either of these can be very unpleasant if the winds are high and from the wrong direction. Turn east into the Little Alligator anywhere between red “10″ to green “11″ and you will find 10 or more feet of water at the entrance. One other thing that requires caution is the number of floats around the entrance and in the river itself. Although there are quite a few, there is also plenty of space to pass between the floats, but vigilance is required. Once inside the Little Alligator River, the floats disappear. We aren’t sure why this is, but we have seen this in several rivers in North Carolina.
We found the depths in the river to be about two feet deeper than charted. Keep in mind that winds can affect the depths in the Alligator River and all connecting waters. The depths we found may be the norm, but may not be what other boaters find. Using the chartplotter, follow the deeper water behind Sandy Point or the wider and deeper water past Mill Point if winds are out of the east. Wind protection from any direction can be found for boats of almost any draft under seven feet. Pull in towards the shore, based on protection needed and as far in as draft will allow. There are visible stumps in some areas and the remains of an old wreck to the south between the entrance and Mill Point. Continuing in the river past Mill Point is a wide, deeper basin south of Rock Point that gives all around protection.
Because there is the possibility of stumps and snags on the bottom all along the rivers of this area, a trip line on the anchor might be a good idea. This will be helpful to pull the anchor out in reverse if it becomes seriously snagged. Be sure the trip line is strong enough to take the strain of pulling the anchor loose and long enough to get it up on deck and attach it to the windlass or a winch. We found this to be an excellent anchorage and sat out several storms in complete comfort and security.
Chuck Baier and Susan Landry,
Trawler Beach House
The charming river village of Belhaven, NC has always held a special place in our hearts. This was our first-night stopover in 1979, on the cruise from Morehead City to our Nation’s Capital, that inspired yours truly to become a cruising guide author. On that occasion, we moored at River Forest Manor, and had a meal ashore that must have tipped my scales an additional five pounds. After that gut-busting repast, we wandered Belhaven’s quite lanes, and were absolutely charmed by the beautiful homes and lush lawns.
By early 2012, however, we weren’t very optimistic about Belhaven’s future with the cruising community. River Forest Manor Inn and Restaurant was closed, and the adjoining marina was in disrepair and seemingly hit or miss operation. The owners of the other privately owned pleasurecraft facility in town, Belhaven Waterway Marina, informed the SSECN that, while transient wet slip space would still be available, they were going to begin emphasizing longer term storage, and would no longer be able to support the SSECN through their sponsorship. Furthermore, our favorite in-town dining attraction, Back Bay Cafe/Wine and Words, had closed, and moved its operation to Washington, NC.
ALL THAT CHANGED IN A BIG WAY by the end of last year. A new town dock was constructed and opened with free wet slip space for visiting cruisers. And, as you will learn in Susan and Chuck’s superb story below, power and water connections, as well as a dinghy dock, have now been added to this pier, and a SECOND town dock is under construction. Additionally, there are new dining choices in Belhaven.
By mid 2013, there is very good reason to believe that Belhaven and its businesses are making a mighty effort to welcome the cruising community in every way possible. We strongly suggest you heed their invitation, and discover the charms of this quite, friendly village for yourself.
We are once again highly indebted to Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, owners of Beach House Publications, publishers of “The Great Book of Anchorages,” (http://www.tgboa.com) for providing the superb, in-depth article and copious photographs, describing all the exciting changes taking place in this port of call, below. THANKS CHUCK AND SUSAN! Please read on!
Belhaven, North Carolina
On September 21, 2013 the town of Belhaven, North Carolina will hold the 1st annual Birthplace of the Inland Waterway Celebration. You might ask yourself, what is the Inland Waterway and why are they celebrating? The Inland Waterway is the original name for what is today called the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The reason Belhaven plans a celebration is because in August of 1928, 20,000 people, politicians, dignitaries, Coast Guard contingents, Corps of Engineers, Naval airplanes and powerboat racers converged on Belhaven to celebrate the completion of a 22-mile canal linking the Alligator and Pungo Rivers. This canal was the final component to complete the Inland Waterway and allow commerce to flow from the northern ports as far as Boston to Beaufort without having to go out into the Atlantic around Cape Hatteras. Belhaven officially became a seaport and also became known for its lumber industry, with 13 sawmills, 2-world renown, a growing seafood industry and a reputation for hospitality, second to none.
The Belhaven of today is still a welcome port to recreational boaters traveling north and south along the Intracoastal Waterway. Not only does the city welcome boaters, they have made improvements not found in any other stops along the ICW. While many other towns are enacting restrictions, crowding out anchorages with moorings and pulling up the welcome mat, Belhaven is spending time and money to encourage boaters to stop by, visit and stay awhile to experience true southern hospitality. Would you believe they have completed a large town dock that is free and that the town dock provides power and water on the docks for free? And there is a pump-out (for a fee, sorry), at the town dock. Would you believe, there is another free town dock under construction, with free power and water? Well believe it. I asked the Town Manager, Guinn Leverett, why the town of Belhaven would go to such lengths for boaters at no charge and the answer was simple. To encourage boaters to come to Belhaven and enjoy what it has to offer.
The town received matching funds through the Boating Infrastructure Grant progam for the docks and from the Public Health Services for the pump-out. The pump-out fees must remain at $5.00 for 4 years. To use the pump-out, the boater needs to purchase a token at the hardware store across the street and insert it in a slot at the pump near the head of the dock. The current dock is accessed by turning into the canal, known as Wynn’s Gut, next to the hospital. A row of pilings will be on your port and the remains of an old dock on your starboard. There is a railing around the end of the dock with an open gateway about halfway along. This is where the pump-out hose is located. A little farther along, the dock opens up and has tall pilings along the deck with sturdy cleats on which to tie. There are six power outlets with 30-amp service and hose bibs for water. There is even a water hose on the dock for boaters to use. It just doesn’t get any better than this. The canal is narrow and best suited for small to medium size boats. We would consider about 40 feet to be near the limit. Larger boats will not be able to turn around in the canal, but if backing up is not a problem, other than very large vessels, size may not be that important. We found 7 feet at the dock, but less on the opposite side of the canal. At this writing, there is bridge construction going on farther up the canal, but it was not disturbing and will be completed soon.
Belhaven is a small town with all of the same issues of any small town in today’s economy. There are some empty storefronts in the downtown area, but the town is working to make improvements. Three of the storefronts are under contract and should have tenants in short order. A new restaurant, Tavern at Jack’s Neck, is scheduled to open on Pamlico Street, a very short walk from the dock. Across the street from the dock on Pamlico is Farm Boys and the Front Porch, selling sandwiches and other fast foods and offering music and entertainment on weekends. For finer dining, the menu and cuisine at Spoon River is not to be missed. If a quick lunch menu or early meal is your choice, there is Fish Hooks Café or Gingerbread Bakery and O’Neal’s Café over on Main Street.
Rudlick and Whitley Hardware is across the street from Jack’s on Pamlico. This is a full-service hardware with “more stainless steel fasteners than most shipyards.” They also carry some basic boating supplies and have a very nice gift center. A coin-operated laundry is about 4 blocks from the waterfront on Pamlico next to the car wash.
O’Neal’s Drug Store has moved a mile up the road to Main and 264, and the Food Lion Supermarket is out on Highway 264, about 1 ½ miles from the town dock. A ride or a bicycle will be needed to get to the supermarket unless you’re really into walking. Don’t miss a visit to the old City Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The Belhaven Museum, on the second floor, is open from 1:00 to 5:00 PM, but closed on Wednesday and Sunday. Guinn Leverett, the town manager, describes some of the exhibits as “many, many grandmother’s attics.” Many of the items on exhibit were from donations and estates from local citizens reflecting the people and their history. The Post Office and town library are within walking distance of the waterfront.
The space at the town dock is limited, and like us, most boaters may want to spend some additional time relaxing, enjoying leisure activities or just doing some fishing. If you happen to be visiting during one of the annual festivals put on each year, like the Pirates on the Pungo Festival or the 4th of July festivities, the free town dock will probably be full. In the past, Riverforest Marina was the crown jewel of Belhaven. The stately manor with its excellent food and well-known buffet was the place to dine for boaters and land cruisers alike. You could fuel up, dock your boat, enjoy fine food and the pool and sauna in a true southern setting. But alas, the jewels have fallen from the crown. The restaurant has been closed for some time, however, the marina is sort of accepting boats for dockage. The property owner lives in a house on the grounds. If you pull in to the docks and tie up, don’t expect any dockhands or Dockmaster, and if the owner happens to see you there, he will probably come down the dock and charge you something to tie up. The docks are getting tired and the property is showing its age. Belhaven Waterway Marina provides dockage and is located in the downtown area. Many boaters stay at Dowry Creek Marina on, yes, Dowry Creek. It is a distance from town but provides a courtesy car for transportation and has a club house, pool, ships store, wifi and tennis courts.
Belhaven also has a very large anchorage for boaters that prefer the solitude. Just behind the town dock is a new floating dinghy dock, well-protected inside the canal. Be sure and have a current chart of the area and beware of the shallow area just off the waterfront that must be negotiated around to get to the deeper anchorage. The holding
is good in the harbor and Belhaven has just rebuilt the seawall separating the harbor from the Pungo River. Strong southerly winds can make the anchorage uncomfortable.
A second Town dock is under construction and at this time needs only the power, water, cleats and safety equipment installed and it will be available to the boating public. The second dock is farther north toward the bridge in the harbor between the grain silos and the old brick chimney from the original cooperage mill. This second dock is about ¾ mile from the center of downtown, but is much closer to Highway 264, where one finds the grocery store, Dollar General and O’Neals Pharmacy. This is a well-constructed, sturdy dock with concrete decks, slips with finger piers and outer pilings for four boats, and an alongside tie opposite the slips. There is an end tee that a smaller boat could use. It’s in a quiet and beautiful setting, but there is some noise occasionally from the grainery. The second dock is just a further commitment by the city to make Belhaven inviting to the transient boater.
If you haven’t been to Belhaven before, we highly recommend you stop and visit. If you haven’t been to Belhaven for a while, like us, we highly recommend you stop by and see what’s new. We believe you won’t be disappointed.
Chuck Baier and Susan Landry
Trawler Beach House
Beach House Publications
We love Belhaven.
We have never been able to walk to the grocery store out on the highway because every time we tried, someone picked us up within a block of walking and took us there. Returning back, the same happens again. One time, we were finishing lunch at the Fishhook Cafe and the waitress asked us what we were planning to do for the day. We told her we were going to walk to the grocery store and she insisted on driving us! She asked her boss if she could take a minute to drive us to the store and immediately got the OK.
We love Belhaven.
Check out LOTS more Belhaven photos by clicking the graphic below: