SI Vault
Ezra Bowen
November 28, 1955
Where to go, what time to leave, what to see on the way and what to do in the various ports along the 946.1-mile waterway between Norfolk and Miami
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November 28, 1955

The Inland Waterway: Sea Road South

Where to go, what time to leave, what to see on the way and what to do in the various ports along the 946.1-mile waterway between Norfolk and Miami

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Leaving Elizabeth City , slow boats (7 knots) get under way by 6:30 a.m. to make next stop at Belhaven, N.C. (75.5 miles) by dark. WARNING—before leaving, check weather with CAA in Elizabeth City since route crosses Albemarle Sound, famous for sudden storms. Look for snags in lower Pasquotank and especially in Alligator River-Pungo River Canal. BEST DOCK in Belhaven is River Forest Manor, a hard right just inside Belhaven breakwater. Manor has room for 20 to 25 boats. There are 8 feet of water at pierhead and supposedly same depth all the way in; but don't expect more than 5� feet in close. No tide but a northwest or southeast wind can change depth as much as a foot. Dockage is free first night if you gas up, otherwise 4� per foot. Three-man dock crew is on duty 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. but don't expect too much action before 6:45 a.m. Dock has gas, diesel, water, shore power and ice, and there is supposed to be a Bendix on the pier by Nov. 21. For dock service after hours, check watchmen or go to desk inside the Manor—the big white house at the end of the pier. Pay phone, free showers and lounge chairs inside the Manor. MECHANIC, electrician, or electronic repairs through the office by asking Axson Smith, owner of the Manor. MARINE RAILWAY at Chester Sawyer's, a half mile up Pantego Creek past the Manor. GROCERIES at Tarkington's or Johnston's Monday to Saturday, and both deliver. Nights and Sundays the Manor has groceries. LAUNDRY through Manor maids for 8-hour service. DRY CLEANING picked up by Belhaven Dry Cleaners for same-day service. BEST RESTAURANT in town is in Manor which serves breakfast at any hour, dinner till 8:30 p.m. Food is average. Very late arrivals can get snacks through Mr. Smith. Manor also has 25 rooms running from $4 to $12 if you want to spend night ashore. HUNTING is the thing to do in Belhaven and worth a day's layover. This is exceptionally good year for Canada geese (see map). Through package deal with the Manor, you can get room, board and a full day's goose, duck, deer or bear shooting for $19. Same arrangement for quail—$22. FISHING package deal for largemouth bass, pickerel, crappie, perch, etc. costs $17. Or you can fish off the Belhaven breakwater for nothing.

Leaving Belhaven, skippers of slow boats can have breakfast ashore, leave at 8 a.m. and still make next stop at Morehead City, N.C. (58.6 miles) by 5 p.m. WARNING—light displacement motor cruisers consider laying over in Belhaven if wind is blowing strongly (25 plus) from south or southeast. Lower Pungo River and Neuse (pronounced noose) River can get steep and choppy in a blow. BEST DOCK in Morehead City is Morehead City Yacht Basin, a hard right before black can No. 1 on starboard hand just shy of the drawbridge. Dock has space for 40 boats (all in slips), but is often crowded. Late arrivals phone ahead (6-4146). Eight feet of water at the gas pump, 5 feet in shallowest slip and a 3�-foot tide. Dockage from $1 to $3 per day. Pier crew on duty 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dock has gas, diesel, water, shore power. Ice by delivery, but not much after 5 p.m. unless you press point with Dock Manager Warren L. (Bump) Styron. For dock service after hours check the watchman. Pay phone, showers and rest rooms at end of pier. Five MECHANICS on hand 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days. See Styron to get mechanic Saturday or Sunday. Electrician through Styron, electronics next door to pier at Carteret Electronics. MARINE RAILWAYS at dock handle boats up to 140 feet. GROCERIES at Cherry's Market, and they deliver (owner available at store after hours). LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING at White Way Laundry. They deliver and will return morning laundry in late afternoon. BEST RESTAURANTS are Tony's Sanitary Fish Market or Capt. Bill's Waterfront Restaurant. GOLF at Morehead City Yacht and Country Club 3 miles from basin (open to yachtsmen living more than 50 miles from the city). HUNTING for deer and bear at Open Grounds Farm 20 miles northeast of town through guides John S. Mason (Beaufort 2-8536) or George Styron (Atlantic 312). For duck, try Guides Monroe, Tom or Luther Gaskill, or try Raymond or Eugene Styron—all on Cedar Island. FISHING, especially for striper on Core Bank from Drum Inlet to Cape Lookout, is worth extra day. Try Ace Harris or Earl Davis at Marshallburg for guide service. For DEEP SEA FISHING in Gulf Stream, many charter boats moored between Tony's and Capt. Bill's restaurants. Best are Hubert Fulcher's Blue Water, Willard Lewis's Gulf breeze, or any of Otis Purifoy's boats.

Leaving Morehead City , slow boats shove off by 6:45 a.m. to make 67.4 miles to next stop at Wrightsville. WARNING—where waterway passes ocean inlets, viz. Bogue Inlet, New River Inlet, etc., watch for side currents throwing boat off course. Also look out for local fishermen in rowboats clogging channel through drawbridge at Wrightsville. BEST DOCK is Wrightsville Marina on left bank immediately past drawbridge, and single-screw boats be sure to make landing against the 1�-knot current. Marina has room for 65 boats (55 slips, others at pierhead). Fourteen feet of water at pierhead, 6 in shallowest slip and a 4-foot tide. Dockage 5� per foot per day. Dock crew on duty 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and late arrivals try night watchman. Dock has gas, diesel, water, shore power and ice. Lounge with wash room and showers closes at 8 p.m. Five MECHANICS on hand 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Sundays and late hours phone Dock Manager Eugene A. Reynolds at home, Wilmington 3-1148.) Ditto electricians, carpenters, painters. MARINE RAILWAYS at marina handle boats up to 65 feet. GROCERIES from Rogers Grocery on Harbor Island, and they will deliver (Sundays phone 2280). LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING from New Way Cleaners and Laundry at Seagate for same-day service. BEST RESTAURANTS are Marina Restaurant just behind the dock and Faircloth's immediately across the bridge—both good on seafood (Marina is slightly more convenient), with steamed oysters a specialty. Wrightsville area is exceptional for SIGHT-SEERS, especially in springtime when local plantation gardens bloom. Airlee Plantation is only one-half mile from marina on west bank of waterway. Hire car or cab from Yellow Cab in Wilmington and drive to Orton Plantation on banks of Cape Fear River 24 miles from marina, Clarendon Plantation (18 miles) or Pleasant Oaks (20 miles). For fall sight-seers, in Wilmington itself are old buildings like St. James Church, Cornwallis House, Bellamy Mansion, etc. Also city-owned Greenfield Park and for north-bound boats the annual Azalea Festival the first week in April. GOLF at Cape Fear Country Club (see map), which honors other club memberships. This is where PGA holds annual Azalea Open in connection with spring festival. Or try Wilmington Municipal 5 miles from marina. FISHING in surf for striper miles away on beach. Or hire charter boats at marina to get other good striper fishing at Shell Island, Mason's Island and Elmore's Island. Same boats will go to Gulf Stream for marlin, sailfish (142 sails caught off Wrightsville last year), or stop in inlets for striper. Eddy Hanneman in Wrightsville Beach also charters, as does D. M. George in Wilmington—either of these will take parties for full day or half day.

Leaving Wrightsville , slow boats on tight schedule start at 6:15 a.m., stock up on food and aim for Bucksport, 81.6 miles. Try to leave at dead low tide to ride current through sounds and down Cape Fear River. Boats drawing 5� feet or less, with speed to make long jump to Charleston following day, head for Briarcliffe Yacht Basin near Myrtle Beach, 21 miles north of Bucksport. WARNING—watch for snags in 23-mile cut between Little River and Socastee Bridge. BEST DOCK, in fact only dock, in Bucksport is Bucksport Marina, on right bank just past red flasher 36. Slightly ramshackle dock holds 30 boats, with 15 feet of water at gas pumps, 6 feet at far end of pier. Tide changes 3 feet. Dockage 3� per foot per day. Dock crew oh duty 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and late arrivals call night watchman on house-boat by store. Dock has gas, diesel, water, shore power and ice. Lounge on dock has rest rooms, showers, chairs, magazines, TV. MECHANIC on duty 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and after hours rout out marina Owner J. P. Kittrell in two-story white house, 100 yards behind the dock. Electrician through Kittrell. MARINE RAILWAY at the dock hauls boats up to 60 feet. Some GROCERIES at marina, or Kittrell will drive you 3 miles to C. O. Marsh's. Give LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING to Kittrell to take to Conway for 24-hour service. Since nearest local restaurant definitely not worth the $6 cab ride, eat dinner on the boat. At Myrtle Beach try GOLF at Pine Lakes International Country Club (which also offers rooms at $6 to $14). Also excellent golf at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, most convenient for guests at Dunes Village motel (rooms from $6 to $15. 6 miles north). Good RESTAURANTS are the Pink House (buffet), the White Heron or the Pinewood. FISHING off three jetties good, but the word in Myrtle Beach is relaxation.

Leaving Bucksport, slow boats get away by 6:15 a.m. to make 78.6-mile jump to Charleston. BEST DOCK in Charleston is the Charleston Municipal Yacht Basin, a hard right at red blinker immediately beyond red nun 4. Enter basin very slowly and look out for rusting, tumbledown iron bulkhead on left as you turn into basin. Marina has room for 150 boats, but space at pier is limited so phone ahead (unlisted number is 3-5737 and ask for Manager Moultrie Ball). Eight feet of water in all slips at low water, tide drops 5 feet and boats drawing 7� feet leave on the half tide or better. Dockage costs 4� per foot per day. Dock crew on 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Ball stays till 7, and later arrivals ask watchman for service. Marina has gas, diesel, water, shore power at 50� a night and ice. Shower and lounge next door at Charleston Yacht Club. MECHANICS at head of pier from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during week, and Ball may be able to get one Saturday and Sunday at time and a half. Electrician through Ball, but no work Saturday p.m. or Sunday. Electronics same. MARINE RAILWAYS at Mt. Pleasant Boat Building Co. handle boats up to 110 feet. GROCERIES (fancy) from Harold's Cabin, and they deliver; or try Rodenberg's Supermarket 4 blocks from marina. LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING notify marina office for 24-hour service. RESTAURANTS and HOTELS in Charleston are superb. And this, for southbound boats, is first real oasis due largely to Charleston's genteel disregard of state liquor laws. For dinner, try Perditas and order she-crab soup and broiled softshell crab. Try informal lunch at Harold's Cabin. Fort Sumter Hotel (rooms $4.50 to $20) and Francis Marion Hotel ($5 to $24.50) offer superior accommodations. Fort Sumter's Manager Don Grady is chairman for Advertising and Promotion Committee of local chamber of commerce and good man to check on Charleston activities. SIGHT-SEEING is perhaps best on waterway, and tours are arranged by the hotels. Includes Fort Sumter, St. Michael's Church (built 1752), Old Powder Magazine (Revolutionary War), St. Andrews Church (1706), Sword Gate House (antebellum wrought iron), etc. Boats heading north in spring don't miss Magnolia Gardens, or Middleton and Cypress gardens. Also fine sight-seeing walking down High Battery where waterfront lined with old houses, or try taking horse-carriage ride through old section of town. FISHING for largemouth bass and fresh-water striper is excellent in Santee-Cooper Lakes; or for weakfish, channel bass, king mackerel, bluefish and Spanish mackerel from Charleston jetties. There is some deer and turkey HUNTING if you want to scramble, and GOLF is good at Charleston Country Club or Charleston Municipal.

Leaving Charleston try to shove off 1� hours before low ebb to catch strong tidal currents along 59.5-mile run to Beaufort (pronounced Byewfutt). WARNING—there are four slow, hand-operated drawbridges (plus two mechanical bridges) between Charleston and Beaufort. Approach slowly and have small anchor made up ready to heave off stern for extra-quick stop, in case bridge is extra slow. Channel twists, turns so often and so sharply that next mark you see ahead may not be the one to head for. Moral: keep close check on charts. BEST DOCK in Beaufort is combination of Beaufort Municipal Dock (no fuel) and Gulf Dock, hard right past Beaufort drawbridge. Gas up at Gulf Dock, then move to Municipal. Line-handling by dock crew here is likely to be sloppy, and there is strong eddy off Gulf Dock at flood tide, so watch your landing. Combined docks hold 14 boats. There are 15 feet at the gas pumps, 3 feet on inside of Municipal Dock. Normal tide drops 6 feet, and new-moon spring tides drop 9, so leave slack on bow and stern lines, and use plenty of springs and fenders. Dockage minimum $1 a boat, 2� per foot over 50 feet. Dock crew on 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., then phone Manager Arthur Green at home. Gulf Dock has gas and diesel, both docks have water, shore power and ice. Municipal has showers and lounge open 24 hours. MECHANIC Willy Yeomans available any time at 716-J. Electrician through Green. No electronic service. MARINE RAILWAY across river at Beaufort Boat Works takes boats up to 60 feet. GROCERIES one block from marina at Piggly Wiggly or A&P, or Woods Supermarket for dockside delivery. LAUNDRY and DRY CLEANING through City Laundry and Dry Cleaning Service for 24-hour service and dockside delivery. BEST RESTAURANT is in Gold Eagle Hotel, but check meal schedule. Same hotel has pleasant rooms from $3.50 to $8. For quick, informal steak, however, try Al's Steak House. HUNTING for deer and dove is monopolized by private clubs; but see Al Wilhelm at Al's Steak House for best local introductions. For quail, duck or turkey (at $100 a day) wire Fred Hack at Hilton Head Island; for quail also try G. B. Schurmeier at Land's End Plantation on St. Helena Island, or Richard Rowland at Tidal Home guest house. Local FISHING for drum, cobia, sea bass, sea trout, small and largemouth bass, bream and redfish; see Al Wilhelm or N. W. (Toots) Martin at Harvey's Barber Shop. GOLF at Ladies Island Country Club 5 miles from marina.

Leaving Beaufort, you have time for breakfast ashore (Ocean View Cafe half a block from marina). This is easiest day of entire trip. Shove off at 9:30 or 10 a.m. for 46.4-mile hop to Isle of Hope. WARNING—buoys in lower Beaufort River and Port Royal Sound are widely spaced. Check chart carefully and do not cut across shoals south and east of Parris Island. In upper Wilmington River just north of Causton Bluff, black range 23 and red range 24 are set back in bushes and hard to see against morning sun. BEST DOCK at Isle of Hope is Brady Boat Works. Some boats, however, pick Thunderbolt Yaqht Basin 12 miles north of Brady's. Thunderbolt has room for 23 boats, 18 feet at pump and 18 feet in slips, full dock service for gas, diesel, water, shore power, ice on 10-minute call, a good lounge with showers, a far bigger MARINE RAILWAY (111-foot capacity) than Brady, and is 4 miles closer to Savannah. But Brady has excellent dock crew and plenty of float space—essential in area of 8-foot tides. Brady's holds 48 boats, has 15 feet at pumps, 7 in shallowest slip. Gas, diesel, water, shore power, ice at the dock. Dockage $1 if you gas up, otherwise $2 up to 50 feet, $3 to $4 over 50 feet. Line crew on 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., after 7 go to Mr. Brady's two-story, white house at end of pier, or phone him (8349) from pay booth on dock. Marina has shower but no rest rooms. Two MECHANICS on 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. six days a week. After hours see Brady. Ditto electricians. Electronics call James Ryals ( Savannah 4-5177) anytime. Four MARINE RAILWAYS take boats from 28 to 50 feet. GROCERIES at Smith's Groceries half a block to the right, seven days a week. Shopping center 5 miles away at Remler's Corner (call Yellow Cab from Savannah or take Savannah bus) has two supermarkets (A&P and Colonial), and LAUNDRY and DRY CLEANING—also a self-service laundry—at C&D Cleaners. BEST RESTAURANTS near marina are Johnny Harris (dancing) 6 miles away on Victory Drive and Our House in Remler's Corner area. In Savannah (8 miles) most fun is Pirate's House—waitresses in pirate costume and cannon balls in the yard, with good steak and drinks. The Rex (somewhat fancy) also good; and the Savannah Yacht and Country Club (no gas, tiny dock but good food) welcomes visiting yachtsmen. BEST HOTEL for weekending is plush General Oglethorpe ($9 to $17) 6 miles east of Savannah on Route 80, offering outdoor pool (chilly this time of year but fine in spring), 18-hole golf course, riding, candlelit dinners and dancing. Oglethorpe guests may want to rent car from Avis or Hertz. In town try the Manger (hard g) at $4.50 to $10, or the DeSoto ($5 up). Other GOLF courses at Savannah Golf Club (if you know somebody) or at Bacon Park (public) 3 miles from Brady's. For SIGHT-SEEING go to Low House, Owens-Thomas House, others for fine displays of antiques, or go antique-buying instead (see map). HUNTING for quail or dove very good this year at John C. Coleman Hotel at Swainsboro 90 miles west of Savannah by rented car ($15 buys room, guide and dogs). GOOD FISHING for cobia and weakfish near Savannah, and for latest local information check Otis Stubbs at Stubbs Hardware Co. (phone 5149) or at home (phone 3-5008).

Leaving Isle Of Hope, slow boats get off by 6:15 a.m. to make 74.7 miles to next stop at St. Simon's Mills. Tide is no factor in determining departure time from Brady's, since current changes direction nine times en route to St. Simon's. WARNING—there are no regular gas facilities from Isle of Hope to St. Simon's, so low-capacity auxiliaries take on extra 5-gallon cans. Watch your turn coming out of Little Mud River and keep good line on stern range 196. Also keep sharp eye for ranges set back in bushes along edge of Buttermilk Sound. BEST DOCK at St. Simon's is Olsen's Yacht Yard on starboard hand just past Frederica River draw. Room for 40 boats, with 18 feet all around the dock. Tide drops 8 feet, but all boats are secured to floats except at pierhead and in slips on north end of pier where you have to bridle out. Olsen has gas, diesel, water, shore power and ice. Dockage from $1 to $2. Pier man on 24 hours. If not on dock, check house back of boat yard. Office building at pier end has shower, rest rooms, lounge. MECHANIC comes on 5:30 p.m. and works till boats are finished. If not on hand, phone Olsen at one of numbers posted in lounge. MARINE RAILWAY at yard handles boats up to 60 feet. GROCERIES delivered by Brooks Quality Food Store on Sea Island Road (phone 3951), and they are closed half day Thursdays. LAUNDRY slow (48 hours) from Universal Laundry and Dry Cleaning in Brunswick, and they deliver at the dock. DRY CLEANING with 24-hour service, and Village Wash-O-Mat 2 miles away in St. Simon's Village; Yard Owners Olaf Olsen Sr. and Jr. will drive you in if you're stuck, or call Island Taxi (9451). BEST RESTAURANT for quick, easy dinner is Sea Island Yacht Club across bridge from Olsen's, (they also have dock with gas, diesel, etc., but no floats), and they will pick you up. For seafood, try Deck Restaurant in Brunswick which also transports guests. Nontransporter but purveyor of best steak on St. Simon's Island is Frederica Yacht Club 8 miles from marina. THE THING TO DO if you have the time and the money ($18 to $38 per day, American plan) is to spend a few days at The Cloister hotel on Sea Island 6 miles from Olsen's. This is one of Atlantic coast's truly fine watering places, featuring fancy beach club with kidney-shaped swimming pool (surf here is muddy and mild), horseback riding on beach, buffet luncheons, excellent golf course, skeet shooting, fishing, marsh-hen hunting, sight-seeing tours (ancient battle fields). Not quite so fancy is King and Prince Hotel on St. Simon's Island beach. Other GOLF at Brunswick Country Club 10 miles from Olsen's. Car rentals through The Cloister but phone at least three days ahead. Other FISHING through R. A. Taylor on St. Simon's (phone 4552) at $15 to $20 per day for rod, boat, motor, guide; and you can go for half a day.


Leaving St. Simon's, slow boats can push off at 7 a.m., make the 62.7 miles to Jacksonville Beach before sundown. WARNING—watch for dangerously strong currents 3.7 miles south of St. John's River, where rip tide goes through Atlantic Boulevard span at 6 knots. Auxiliaries and small single-screw powerboats wait for slack tide. Twin-screw boats coming downtide advance very slowly and blow horn. When span is fully open, run through at nearly full power; coming uptide enter as close as possible to dead center, with engines at full. BEST DOCK is El Verde Yacht Basin and Club on east bank just past second draw, south of St. John's River. (Outboarders and small inboard cruisers try Beach Marine Service just north of bridge. Beach Marine has gas, diesel, water and ice on 10-minute call. Service is good, but basin is not fully completed and space for big cruisers and auxiliaries is limited.) Pulling into El Verde be sure to land upcurrent as per instructions of owner and dock man, A.C.J. Mayer. Basin has room for 30 boats, with 12 feet all through the basin. Tide drops 2� feet. Mayer open for business 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and available after hours in his room over club-house at end of pier. Dock has gas, diesel, water, shore power and ice on call. Dockage 4� per foot. MECHANIC and electrician on call from J. F. Bellinger and Sons at Atlantic Boulevard Monday to Friday, and other days ask Mayer (Beach Marine has Mechanic-Electrician Johnny Moore on hand all the time). MARINE RAILWAY at Bellinger's takes boats up to 110 feet (Beach Marine has lift for boats 32 feet). GROCERIES from Banner Supermarket on Jacksonville Beach, and they deliver. LAUNDRY and DRY CLEANING at Beach Laundry and Dry Cleaners for 24-hour service, and they also deliver. BEST RESTAURANT for quick meals is the Homestead one-fourth mile up beach road from marina; but if you're tired, phone the Surfmaid which delivers hot meals like chicken in a basket to the dock. Dinner dancing at Le Chateau on Atlantic Beach 6 miles from marina is worth a try (call Beach Yellow Cab, or hire car in Jacksonville from Avis, Hertz or National). Some entertainment in Jacksonville (like Rainbow Room at George Washington Hotel). But best move, especially for yachtsmen-golfers with extra day or two, is stay at the Inn ($17 to $32, American plan) or The Innlet ($5 to $11.50, European) in Ponte Vedra Beach 7 miles from marina. Eighteen hole GOLF course available to Inn and Innlet guests is one of best in Florida. Other golf at Jacksonville Municipal course 25 miles from marina. Good fresh-water FISHING for schooling bass, bream and crappie in St. John's River. For latest local fishing information call Harry Finkelstein's tackle store or The Sport Shop (both in Jacksonville).

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