Cruising North on the U.S. East Coast
Part 5: Southport, NC, to Coinjock, NC (250 miles)
On Day 5 of our U.S. East Coast journey, we cruised offshore from Southport, NC, to Beaufort, NC. We came in past a dredger through a rather choppy inlet to continue our trip “on the inside”, meaning on the Intracoastal Waterway, or the ICW. This is the spot where many boats will come inside from the ocean to avoid having to go around Cape Hatteras. Going outside around the Cape is a long leg, often rough, and offers no bailout options if you run into trouble.
Beaufort is a nice place to stop (see my previous post: https://www.yachtcreators.com/blog/cruising-north-us-east-coast-part4/), but this time we traveled onwards. We tried to make a fuel stop at Jarrett Bay, the famous builder of custom sportfish yachts. Jarrett Bay can also be a convenient overnight stop as it is right on Adams Creek on the ICW, but there was too much wind and current to get in safely so we continued up Adams Creek and made a fuel stop in Oriental. While on the fuel dock at Oriental, a large thunderstorm rolled in and we waited it out right there.
After the storm passed, we had to decide which of two route options to take to Coinjock:
Route #1: Neuse River, Pamlico River, Pungo River, the Pungo-Alligator Canal, Alligator River, Albemarle Sound, North River.
Route #2: Neuse River, Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound, North River.
Even though they are “on the inside”, the Sounds can be surprisingly rough when there is a lot of wind, especially when it blows out of the West. While the thunderstorm had brought some wind, and there were a few more storms in view, we decided to take Route #2 over the Sounds.
Indeed, we wanted to run all the way to Coinjock and not stop at Belhaven, NC, as originally planned, and therefore needed to be able to make better speed than we would be able to when taking Route #1. However, while there is a greater risk of running into debris such as large logs and tree stumps, Route #1 is more interesting from a scenic perspective, e.g. cruising the tea colored waters and varied shorelines of the rivers and the canal, with more to see, including “Will you marry me?” signs and some wildlife, even a swimming fox once. This route also requires going through the Alligator Swing Bridge, which opens on demand.
Even though Coinjock Marina is basically a single long dock wall with a restaurant and a ships store, it has become an iconic “must-do” stop on boaters’ North-South migration route. Customers rave about their famous prime rib (e.g. the enormous 32 oz Captain’s cut, or the more reasonable 16 oz Mate’s cut) and the fried chicken. As I don’t eat meat, I stick to their delicious homemade potato chips with ranch sauce and the seafood salad.
I always enjoy stopping at Coinjock, and the marina staff are very friendly and helpful. They don’t lack a sense of humor either, as evidenced by the sticker available in the store which reads, “Where in the hell is Coinjock?”