Sunday August 15- Wednesday August 18
Sunday we go into shore at 10 AM stopping at the visitor center to get an island map & info, making sure we we tied off the dinghy in the right place. Walk down a little way and rent bikes to tour Ocracoke Island. The island is 16 miles long BUT the main part is on the south tip, about 4 miles long & 6 miles wide, NOT very big. The main hub of the island centers around Silver Lake where we are anchored. We rent bikes for the day and start out for the lighthouse, a short ride. A shame it is not open to the public as it would be a great view from up there looking out on the Sound, the Ocean & Lake with all the boats. Next we head for the beach, a little longer ride out the main road to the turn off, the beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Once we turn off, the road leading to the beach is hard backed smooth sand. Good thing otherwise I never would have made it as the road turns out to be 3 miles long. The big thing here is to drive your car, preferably a 4 wheel drive, out onto the beach and set up your home base. That would be the way to visit this beach, wish we had our kayaks as it would be a great place to play in the surf with them. No riding bikes on this beach, as it is very deep soft sand, the cars have trouble when they go out of the “tracks” such as they are. The trucks & jeeps all come with their coolers loaded on the back one jeep we saw even had a Bar-B-Q grill fastened on. But we are on bikes with just a little basket to hold a bottle of water, towel to wipe the sand off our feet to be able to put our shoes back on, and my fanny pack. Ride back down the 3 mile dirt / sand road & find a place for lunch. Get the map out & realize it will not take us long to see the sights, now we know why the rent bikes and scooters, and golf carts by the HOUR. Off we go going up & down all the back streets, one thing we notice is that just about every house is either for rent or for sale, the ones for sale saying how much rental income comes from the home. Guess it is a big vacation destination for North Carolina. After riding around we wind up back to where we started after just 5 hours, so we turn the bikes back in early as we rented them for 24 hours/a day thinking we would need them later in the day & or in the morning. The rental place was nice enough to give me a partial refund since we did not keep them for a full day. Walk around checking out dinner menus and to see where we can come back to tie up the dinghy close to the restaurant. Back to the boat, shower & relax before going back to the Island for dinner. Monday morning we leave Ocracoke at 9:30 heading out the channel a ferry passes us and we watch him run aground trying to get around the dredge working in the channel. The Dredge is working right in the spot where we could see the shoaling on the way in, but we will have to pass him on the shoal side, we call ahead to him and he lets us know he has dredged that side and we will be okay to pass him as long as we stay close. This channel is keeping the Army Core of Engineers busy, we are glad they are doing such a good job. Once out in Pamlico Sound we have a nice breeze but it is on the nose so we are motoring. We start to notice a lot of shrimp boats but they do no appear to be trolling and we can not figure out what they are doing. Over the next couple of hours we pass at least 25 shrimpers all around the Sound, all just anchored. The best guess we have is that they are just waiting for night to start trawling for shrimp again. By 4 PM we turn into the channel that will bring us into Roanoke Sound traveling up between Bodie Island to our east and a lot of small little Islands just spits of land then Roanoke Island to the west. A very narrow channel sometimes less then 100 feet wide with 1 – 3 foot depths just outside. By 5:30 we are approaching another 65' bridge, not much of a tide here only ½ foot and we are at low tide, we make it under with no scraping. By 6:15 we are anchored just outside the town of Manteo on the northern tip of Roanoke Island. Tuesday we head into town around 11 am, the city has a real nice pier with a lighthouse on the end with several finger piers that you can tie up for free for a day so we bring the dinghy in there. Go to the main street and they have a “news stand” with free town maps and guide books & papers. Close by is the North Carolina maritime museum. A lot of history on the NC Shad Boat and a workshop where they build small wooden boats. Next we walk over to the festival park where they have an American Indian town, and an English Settlement town and a replica of a 16th century sailing ship, and a little movie about the American Indians who the Island towns are named after. After the park & lunch walk along the waterfront boardwalk then go see about bike rentals and the place that rents them is also a dive shop. We talk to them about their dives which are off the beach on the next Island over – Nags Head. They are wreck dives where you swim 100 yards off shore and dive 20 feet to your choice of wrecks. Apparently the legend lives on as there are plenty of old wrecks and even some new ones to choose from right off the shore. We talked about the current out there and were told it is unpredictable until you get there. I was concerned about being able to walk across the beach with all my dive gear on, I have trouble just getting the few feet to the back of the dive boat carrying all that equipment on me, then to have to swim out 100 yards in possible waves & current I figured I would be exhausted by the time I got there IF I got there. So we opt to just rent the bikes. There is an outdoor theater that we read about that has an ongoing play since 1937 about the Lost Colony of English settlers here on Roanoke. By this time it is close to 5 and the play starts at 8, BUT if you go to one of the participating restaurants before 6 you get 20% off your dinner entree. So we go back to the boat a quick change for me, get bug spray & our head lamps for the bike ride home and then back to town for an early dinner. After dinner we have a nice bike ride out the 4 miles to the Theater, they have a nice paved bike path along the road leading out there. For such a small Island they have a first class outdoor theater. The play is good, we now know the history of this area as well as any local. The bike ride back in the dark is easy enough with our headlights and the light from all the cars coming back from the theater. The occasional car coming towards us causes a glare in our eyes but we make it back to town & are back on the boat by 11. Wednesday is a lazy morning for me, then we head back to town to do some more sightseeing by bike. Head back out the 4 mile bike trail to where we were last night at the theater to Fort Raleigh and the Elizabethan Gardens which are all located in the same area. Well Fort Raleigh is NOT a fort it is just where the fort use to be, part of which is now the theater grounds which are very beautiful. So we go over to the Elizabethan Gardens and what a fabulous landscape job they did here. The gardens are truly beautiful and we enjoy walking around in the shade. Next stop the aquarium which is off on a side road on the way back to town just did not realize it was 3 miles down that side road with NO bike path. Make it there safe & sound & for me a little tired, rental bike is not the best fit for long rides! They have a replica of one of the wrecks off shore in a tank with off shore fish, so we get to see what we might have seen if we did a dive only we stay dry. After the aquarium we ride the rest of the way back to town & return the bikes. It has been a busy day so we decide to have an early dinner knowing if I go back to the boat chances of me getting back out are slim to none. Find a restaurant at a little before 5 when they start dinner so have a drink while we wait. I wanted a Margarita, but we find out there is no liquor allowed on the island, only beer and wine. They have a great beer menu, so Steve is happy trying a few he doesn't know, and I have a hard cider, which is okay, but not as thirst quenching as a Margarita. Enjoy a discussion of beer brewing and food with the owner followed by a great dinner and watch as a small thunder storm forms, so have to have desert while we wait for it to pass over before going back to the boat. The storm provides a good rinse for the salt on the boat, when the rain stops make a dash back to the boat before another shower starts. Cleaned up and making plans for early departure on Thursday heading north where we will join up with the ICW to travel up to Coinjock & then to Norfolk Virginia.
Link to Pictures;