New Bern, NC (Saturday, 10/21)
We left Belhaven just as the sun was coming up and was treated to this great gift:
We followed the ICW south for a short distance before coming to the Pamlico Sound, which was calm and which we uneventfully crossed in 15 minutes. From here the ICW enters Goose Creek, a small and narrow waterway that is lined with some houses, but mostly trees and marshland. We cruised past the Hobucken Coast Guard station and the Hobucken Bridge.
Just south of this area, there is a shrimper’s marina and dock (“RE Mayo” Docks) where you can stop and buy fresh and frozen shrimp and scallops that is supposed to be really good. We were not able to stop on this trip, but will definitely make plans to do so the next time we come this way.
Not long afterwards the ICW enters the Bay River which then dumps into the Neuse River and from there the course turns a bit west for a short duration. We however continued to cruise up the Neuse River passing the turn of the ICW which heads south; we continued north for another 20 miles to the town of New Bern. The Neuse River is very wide and is mostly tree-lined, but there are many homes along the way. There is also Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point that is on its southern shore, about half way up the river.
We pulled into the New Bern Grand Marina, located near the Doubletree Hotel in downtown. This is a large marina and can house many boats, and there were quite a few open slips. However, they are scheduled to host the MTOA (Marine Trawlers Owners Association) rendezvous later in the week and they will fill up the marina. Although we are members, we do not have plans to attend as we hoped to be further south and did not sign up.
Our main reason to come here was for Denise to see this town that Mark has stayed at, and for Mark to visit a client for 2 days. The result is that he will get 2 billable days out of the 4 planned days we have here.
Shortly after checking in the marina, we took an Uber to the New Bern airport to get a rental car that Mark will use to go see the client, and will enable us to run some errands. The first was to go to a grocery store, and we were so excited as we could shop at a Publix – our first time shopping at one since leaving FL in April. Oh how we have missed this place! We also went to Walmart to pick up a few things, including a new printer cartridge for the portable printer we have on-board.
Since we knew we would be dining out for the next few nights, we opted to eat dinner on the boat and clean out some of our left overs and doggie bag items from previous dining adventures. As we did not have a good internet connection we could not stream any movies, and there was no cable tv here as well. We spent the rest of the evening planning our stops further south, and developing contingencies if we got delayed.
New Bern, NC (Sunday, 10/22)
Our day started with 8:00 mass at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. It was a good thing we had the rental car because the church was located 3 miles from the marina. In downtown New Bern they have one of every type of church you can imagine, however the old Catholic Church is small and they only have Friday morning services there. The “newer” church is on beautiful grounds that have a pond and their own cemetery.
After mass we went to Staples to drop off the old printer cartridge, and then back to Walmart to pick up a few things we missed during yesterday’s trip. On the way back to the boat we drove by the historical place known as Tryon Palace; North Carolina’s first state capitol. You can learn more about this place here.
In the afternoon, Mark drove Denise to get a pedicure, and while waiting went to get some marine silicone from West Marine. However, he discovered they had closed the WM and ended up going back to Walmart to get what he needed. Fortunately, the nail salon was right around the corner from Walmart and he was back in a flash.
In the evening, we met up with Bob & Mary Griswold, whom we have known for years and who now live in New Bern. Originally from Massachusetts, Bob was at a client site that both of us have worked at, and when he retired we put him to work as one of our 1099 employees. We invited them to meet us onboard Island Office for drinks first, then we went to dinner at “Spunky McDoogle’s” and then to their new house which they had built and was recently completed. It was a fun evening and we enjoyed connecting up with them. They are both very involved in the politics of their community and are staunch conservatives, so we had much to discuss about our current political environment.
New Bern, NC (Monday, 10/23)
Today was a work day for Mark, who left early to drive to the client site in Washington, NC – about a 45 minute drive away.
Shortly after he left, Denise went for a run around the town. She headed first to the south around the Tryon Palace, the NC History Center, and then back through the streets of downtown New Bern. Her path also took her along the waterway near the marina, and then over towards the banks of the Neuse River. Here are some pictures from her run:
Later in the morning, Denise did a little cataloging of pictures and worked on writing some of the previous day’s blogs. The connection to the internet was so slow and although we have a hot spot, we use this primarily for emails and work related items. In no time we would consume our monthly data allotment if we used it to update the blog posts.
After lunch, Denise went exploring all the shops in town – something Mark was not interested in doing anyway. After a few stops into women-type stores, she went to the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. Originally formulated by Caleb Bradham who was a pharmacist, the store marks the location of his pharmacy. Today the store has a “soda fountain” counter where you can buy any Pepsi soft drink (Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi, etc.) and watch a video on the evolution of the company. Behind the fountain there is a souvenir shop and a small area that contains some artifacts from the founder.
Denise then passed a small shopping area called Kress Mall that has a few small shops and an Indian Restaurant. But more interesting is that it houses the offices of the Nicholas Sparks Foundation – created by the famed author of such books as “The Notebook”, “Message in a Bottle”, “Nights in Rodanthe”, and others. The foundation’s mission is to provide scholarship program for students from low-income families in rural communities. You can learn more about this foundation here.
Next she stopped was a place called the “Cow Café”; an ice cream shop that has a cow theme and some terrific popcorn which made for a great afternoon snack.
Denise’s last adventure was to Mitchell’s Hardware store; a place that has anything you could possibly need or want. It makes Miller’s Hardware in Winter Park look like a convenience store. After this, it was time to go head back to the boat as it was starting to sprinkle and the heavy rain was coming.
Once Mark had returned from his day at the client, we went to dinner at The Chelsea. This was a restaurant located in downtown near the marina where Mark had eaten before. It was delicious food with a cool bar and murals of art on the walls.
During the evening the weather started to deteriorate and by nightfall the rains began and we crashed early as we were both quite tired.
New Bern, NC (Tuesday, 10/24)
During the night it stormed violently. We were woken up at 1:30 am by the howling wind. Mark got up to check the boat lines and make sure the boat was ok. We could see the canvas on the flybridge of a boat on the dock across the way from us get ripped to shreds in the storm. In the morning we learned there had been tornadoes in South Carolina and severe storms in North Carolina, and felt very lucky that we were in a secure spot.
Like the day before, Mark left to go to the client site early. Denise continued working on cataloging pictures and writing blog posts in the morning, but the internet connection was even worse than the day before and was unsuccessful at getting them posted.
In mid-morning the rain had stopped, so Denise went to check out the farmer’s market. It was pitiful with only about 8 vendors, only two of which offered food items, the others were arts and crafts. She went back to the boat empty handed, and continued working on the blog posts. Perhaps the farmers market on Saturday has more to offer.
In the afternoon more MTOA boats who had waited out the weather somewhere else started to come into the marina. It took no time for the place to fill up. Since we did not really know any of these cruisers, and since we had already decided we were leaving as planned tomorrow, we made no effort to try to attend their rendezvous opening event that evening.
Once Mark returned from the client site for the day we went to dinner at Morgan’s Tavern & Grill, located a half a mile from the marina. It was very good food and we had enough leftovers for a second meal later in the week. We then took the rental car back to the airport and got an Uber ride back to the marina.
In the evening we looked at the weather, and although it was going to be quite windy in places, we should have no issues leaving tomorrow as planned. We may hit some high winds getting around Morehead City but once we get to Bogue Sound we should be ok. If by some chance it is really rough, we had reservations for a marina in Beaufort (NC) and could stay there for the night.
Notes about this area and the marina:
New Bern has a bear as a mascot and like a lot of other cities in the US they have statues of their mascot throughout. Here are some of the bear statues that are all throughout town:
The New Bern Grand Marina is well protected as it is located on the Trent River, just off the Neuse River. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the bathroom/shower facilities available to marina guests are part of the Doubletree. This means they are always clean and really nice. However, the marina Wi-Fi is really awful and for no reason; we have stayed at larger places that have excellent Wi-Fi. This made it difficult to work on the boat or do the blog. It also limited our ability to watch a show or movie, a desired distraction when the weather was so bad on Monday night. If we were to come back here again, we would look to stay at another marina, even if it means walking further to get to downtown restaurants and shops.
New Bern downtown is a fun place with some nice shops and pretty good restaurants. If you are a history buff or if you have a car, then there are more things to see and do. However, as a cruiser unless you know people, rent a car, or use Uber you will be limited in provisioning options. We are glad we came here.