16. From Belhaven NC to Alligator River Marina (west of Nags Head OBX) then on to Coinjock NC

Left Belhaven on a beautiful morning. Flat calm. 49.7 nm (57 statute miles) covered in a little more than 4.5 hours.

The trip was uneventful and traversed pretty boring territory, much of it through the Pungo River – Alligator River canal known as the ditch. I think it was about 20 miles of straight dredged canal. Set the auto pilot heading and never adjust it. Not even crab pots to dodge. There was a 8” diameter floating tree trunk at the entry however. Always pays to watch the water!

There was one interesting sight in the ditch though – something I’d never seen before. Unfortunately by the time I was close enough to see what it was and then get my camera, I was considerably past

Swimming across the ditch was a black bear, by this time surfing in my wake. Googling it, this apparently is not that rare in this area.

The destination for the evening was the Alligator River Marina. It is located about 25 miles due west of Manteo, the north entry to the Outer Banks National Seashore. The marina is between the highway to Manteo and the riverbank and is basically a highway gas station with boat docks – nice solid boat docks, good depth and good power. Water is not what you want to put in your tanks though. The station has a deep fryer and grill and a back room facing the water with 10 or so dining tables. So from the delightful haute cuisine of Belhaven’s Spoon River to Alligator River Marina and gas station’s Philly Cheesesteak. BUT they also had ice cream 🍦 cones which were worth the short walk in the evening.

On to Coinjock

About a half hour after waking up, the entire marina and station lost power and with it my air conditioning. Wasn’t expected to be restored till noon. Hastily checking the oil levels, water strainers, belts and hoses in the engine room (an every travel morning chore), activating the electric cable master to retrieve 50’ of 50amp power cord and taking in the lines, the Last Resort was off and away. First was a crossing of the Albemarle Sound, a large body of water. Once again I was blessed with nearly flat calm conditions and though the preferred channel is not all that wide and the area is very well populated with crab pots (hard to see and you don’t want your prop to tangle with the rope that leads from the tiny buoy to the pot below) progress was quick.

There were two possible routes for the day about equally preferred by Loopers on the Internet forums. One was through the Great Dismal Swamp via the Dismal Swamp Canal. It is reportedly a very beautiful segment of the trip, narrow with trees almost interfering with the masts on sailboats and with a reportedly great visitors center complete with overnight docking. The other route is dominated by Prime Rib. At a small town of Coinjock NC is a marina with a restaurant featuring prime rib – 2 cuts – 16 oz or 32 oz. It is touted by Loopers as a must stop. Something dismal and swampy vs tender prime rib? The choice was clear.

Across Albemarle Sound and up the North River. Across the Sound and up the east side of the peninsula was prime rib land while veering left (west) of the peninsula would lead to the Great Dismal Swamp.

The Coinjock Marina was busy and the southern end was anchored by a 165’ jet powered yacht. I’m happy to NOT be piloting that in some of these narrow waters. It was recommended that if you wanted the prime rib you put in your order in early afternoon. We did. And at the appointed hour ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️👇👇👇👇👇👇⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️

A complete and total, abject disappointment. Cmon folks, you should be able to cut prime rib with a butter knife. The heavy duty steak knife couldn’t cut it – literally couldn’t even hack it. Melt in your mouth? Not chewable!😡🤬.

Did spend some time at the marina cleaning the literally 1000s of dead gnat type bugs off the stern of the boat. When the bugs wash off, they leave little black spots/crap hardened to the fiberglass and windows. I also cleaned the cockpit teak and acid washed the swim platform back to pristine white. It turns brown from all the tannic acid in the rivers.

It will definitely be the Great Dismal Swamp later this fall when heading back south. Yes. Completing the Loop will not happen for me in 2019. Planning on some time in the Chesapeake Bay Area and then to New York and maybe some further? Not going to rush it. Looking forward to being in the Norfolk general area for the weekend for some R&R.

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3 thoughts on “16. From Belhaven NC to Alligator River Marina (west of Nags Head OBX) then on to Coinjock NC”

  1. Mark had a summer home in Cape Charles, VA,on the west side lower tip of the Delmarva peninsula near the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Nice little town, a town marina and a fancier newer marina north of the town.

    We have flown into Norfolk and driven the bridge to visit them there several times.


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