Friday, September 13, 2013

Washington, NC and Back Again to Whitaker Pointe

After anchoring in Pungo Creek which is near Belhaven, North Carolina, we went on down the Pungo River and turned west heading up the Pamlico River thirty miles to Washington, North Carolina. This side trip was my idea as I read some interesting comments about it as a boating destination. It was a good idea.

Washington is a town that dates back to near the revolutionary war. It was considered of strategic importance to the British because the area is surrounded by tall pine trees that were needed for ship's masts. Tar could also easily be extracted from the environs which was also important to naval vessels. The location of the city is interesting in that it's location is kind of a crossroads of sorts. Down river from the town is the wide and easily navigable Pamlico River, but up river it becomes the narrower and less navigable Tar River. But enough history.

Washington seems like a great town and a very worthy destination for cruising boaters that are looking for someplace to tie up some lines for a bit. Again, it being thirty miles up river you basically have to plan on a day's cruise both ways. The course through the main part of the river is wide with plenty of water. Up closer the well-marked channel gets a bit more shallow but its not a big deal. There is a railroad swing bridge near the town that only is operated from 7:30 am to 10:30 am. Otherwise it is open. The town's basin is very deep and the town's municipal marina has mostly long tee head docks for transient boaters. (There are slips but they are only big enough for day boats.) And you have a choice whether you stay at a dock with power for $1.25 per foot (electrical included) or at free tee docks for zip for forty-eight hours. (First come first serve. $.75 per foot after that. No electricity.) The town is well equipped to and eager to cater to boater's needs. There is a West Marine about five blocks from the marina and there are shopping centers, including a Walmart Supercenter, about a mile away.

Downtown is interesting. While it does have some vacant properties it is by no means tired or rundown. We somewhat jokingly said as we approached the town, "Hey! Look! People! Cars! Activity!" Yep, there was a buzz about the place. The shoreline has a very long, well-lit and new-ish grand sidewalk where people were actually congregating and milling around. There are quite a few very nice restaurants both downtown and down at the south end of the shoreline. There is an interesting museum called the North Carolina Estuarium. There are things to see and do. It presented itself very well.

The only problem for us is that we did not get to enjoy it for very long. Unfortunately we spent only one full day there as the weather was due for a change shortly and we felt we had to get going. And more unfortunately, the day we were there we had to do some hefty maintenance. During our anchorage on Pungo Creek the evening before making the trip to Washington, we discovered that some gucky mud from another previous anchorage got into the workings of our windlass which froze the wildcat clutch plates. This meant that the anchor could not be lowered by the normal method of releasing the clutch and letting the anchor drop. I had to let the chain out by hand. On top of that the mud in Pungo Creek was so gooey that it caused the chain to actually slip out of the wildcat's teeth making for a difficult time getting the chain and anchor to rise. I had to let out all of the anchor, tear the windlass apart, clean and re-raise all of the chain cleaning it as it came back up.

Even with this workload we did get to walk around the town and see that good things are happening in Washington. We did go out to eat a couple of times and the food was good. We ate at an Italian restaurant called La Bella's and had a tasty calzone that was the size of a small car. We also had dinner at a restaurant called Grub's. Grub's was a surprisingly upscale eatery with a very interesting menu that would, if we stayed there longer, justify a second or even third trip. And as I said there were several other interesting looking eateries mostly on the southern end of the walkway. There were also several shops (jewelry, crafts, artwork) that Lisa did get to hop around to.

We would like to return to Washington someday. When looking at the city's website it is obvious that the height of the season is Memorial Day to Labor Day. They have concerts and fairs and they're obviously making an effort to be attractive to boaters and lubbers alike. In summation I guess I would say that we definitely had our whistles whetted. We would like to see more.

As already mentioned Washington is off the beaten path. Our cruise leaving Washington was very long. It was sixty-four miles to Whitaker Pointe Marina near Oriental. But that was ok with us. If you have kept up with this blog from the beginning you would have already read about our fondness for this marina. It is, in our opinion, the very nicest marina on the entire coast. The docks are fantastic with big roomy slips, wide fairways, a wonderful world class clubhouse, a pool and a loaner car to get into Oriental. Oh, and the rates are low. We love it here. Lisa joked that it's too bad this marina isn't another two or three-hundred miles further south because we could easily call it home. I agree. And darn the luck! The winds picked up for a few days so we just have to stay here for a bit. What a coincidence.

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