much like that of the Chesapeake. The Neuse and Pamlico rivers are scenic, wide and well-marked, and are both crossed and connected by beautiful stretches of the ICW. Sailors longing to feel the ocean swell under their feet will be studying their charts for the nearest navigable ocean access. Beaufort Inlet, to the south, though, is the only viable option if your draft is more than three feet.
Sailing Coastal North Carolina Depth profiles tend towards the shallow end of the benthic spectrum and, yes—you can find shoal water on the sound— even when out of sight of land, but it’s also very easy to find plenty of sailing water with double digit depths. The area is susceptible to shifting shoals resulting in charts and plotters being of questionable accuracy at times. The good news is the bottom is typically sand or soft mud, and the large shoals are charted accurately. Brant Island and Middle Ground Shoals are easily identified and there’s plenty of water over Bluff Shoal enroute to Ocracoke. Wind tides are more significant than the lunar tides that have little effect on the area. A 15-knot southwesterly breeze over a few days tends to pile up water to the northeast, while lowering it to the southwest, and vice versa. In these conditions, if you anchored overnight with only a foot or so under your keel, you could be aground come morning. Weather patterns can also dictate certain changes to your itinerary during a charter. A strong breeze out of the east can make for a wet and rough bash across the Pamlico enroute to Ocracoke; the long fetch and shallow water serves to make for a choppy sea state. Much depends on
Nautical Wheelers located on Broad St, Oriental, NC. In part I in the February issue, we mention that we stopped here for “trinkets, baubles and wine.”
your tolerance and the size of your boat, so stay flexible; it may be best to enjoy the sheltered Inner Banks until conditions are more favorable.
Sailing Seasons The charter season usually runs from around April 1st through November 30th. Over the winter months, many boats get hauled out, winterized, or sailed south by their owners. Check with each company if you desire a cool-weather charter as these seasonal dates are not inscribed in coral. Temperatures for the Inner and Outer Banks during the summer typically range from the mid-80s to the lower 70s, while during the winter you’ll find mid-50s to the upper 30s. Of course, you can expect significant variation, as there is little about the weather that can be counted on to be “typical”—especially once you’re on charter.
Planning Your Charter There are three bareboat companies and one crewed charter operator conveniently located in Washington, Oriental and New Bern, from which you have easy access to the waters of Pamlico Sound and down the ICW to Beaufort Inlet and into the blue Atlantic. Carolina Wind Yachting Center, based at historic Haven’s Wharf in Washington, operates a bareboat and captained fleet of several boats ranging from a Hunter 30 to a Jeanneau 45, with charter rates from $2350 to $4150 for a 7day charter. The crew at Oriental’s School of Sailing provides instruction, day sailing and multi-day charters aboard their fleet of C&Cs and Cal 24s, priced at $200 per hour. They’re based in Oriental, renowned as the “Sailing Capital of North Carolina.” Whittaker Creek Yacht Harbor, also based in Oriental, provides both day sailing their O’Day 28 on the Neuse River, and multi-day bareboat charters on a Beneteau 38 that runs $2300 for 7 days and comes well-equipped for coastal North Carolina. A fourth company, 360Yachting, plans to expand its operation in 2013 with the opening of a bareboat base located on Roanoke Island near Manteo. This location will provide easy access to Albemarle Sound for those skippers wanting to explore that area. If you’d prefer to kick back and let a professional skipper with 26 years of local knowledge shoulder all the responsibilities, On the Wind Sailing Cruises offers captained charters on board its 43-foot sloop based out of New Bern. Another great option is a charter that includes sailing News & Views for Southern Sailors