Adams Creek NC to Campbell Creek NC

Adams Creek NC to Campbell Creek NC

Sea Gate Marina, Adams Creek NC to The Tylers home, Campbell Creek NC


The area past Sea Gate was a vast wilderness with grasses, low water levels and land with deciduous trees and young forests of pine.  The ICW serpentined through deep vistas with a sense of a distance that cannot be captured by a camera.  To see other than an “inch-high” sliver of land, the zoom lens compresses distances so the landscape looks close up, which it isn’t. It basically looked like this for miles and miles as we cruised 7 miles per hour, and whether we were on the fly bridge sweltering in heat or having a breeze brush by, it was a time we savored and recognized as “the good life”.

“Does it Continue?”  The illusion prompts a recurring question and is answered with, “To the left, hairpin to right, and left again.” It does continue.

It is relaxing in these areas as long as you don’t think of problems associated with the vastness and isolation, boat or health problems or people who take advantage of others who are vulnerable. It’s the imagination spawned of too many movies of vacationers being preyed upon.

The place that was the creepiest in that regard was Deep Creek on the St. Johns River. It was difficult to get into that very narrow stream past obstacles that only locals and experienced cruisers could avoid. We were alone entering on the creek as evening fell and we doubled back to a somewhat wider spot, just a little closer to the entrance, yet still far in. It was a gorgeous place, though filled with alligators, and it became very dark at night amidst the dense foliage.  We knew the creek led nowhere into a deep “dead end”, so when a speedboat passed in the middle of the night, it gave me the willies. Who goes motoring through there in the dark, or even fishing in a place like that at 2 a.m.?  They didn’t look like fishermen, especially not in that boat. Day time had not seemed as scary, but any wary person knows isolated places can be dangerous at any time.

Back here on the ICW, we saw only four boats during the day. Tom had never heard of anyone being attacked on the river or waterways, so it was good not to let the imagination ruin the beauty and solitude. The people that passed were the usual friendly, waving type, glad to see someone like them out there. We did get an odd feeling as one boat stopped nearby, circled us, and seemed to be considering something before calling to us and giving us the thumbs up on our classic boat.

Core Creek and Adams Creek were lovely and a bit cooler.  The tall pines were everywhere, but people were starting to do the inevitable building that comes with population growth. At several places, there were a few older houses on the low ground and little clusters of modest homes that were being infiltrated by big homes, all of them miles from any town.

The pines were carved out for a house and large yard.

We floated by the town of Oriental, the sailing center of N.C. and then passed back into the wilderness.

Tiny beaches dotted and lined the areas.  Dense pines, little coves, and dividing creeks looked familiar to Tom from the Chesapeake and to me from upstate New York.

We were alone again on the Neuse River with a steady course at five knots, the wind against us making it breezy and cool.  The big blue sky dome with the sun overhead was mesmerizing and time drifted away.  Low clouds ringed the perimeter like a white ruffle. At times when Snowbird felt and sounded like a sailboat with the rush of the wake, we remembered Crescendo, our sailboat, and the wonderful feeling of heeling in open waters. However we no longer had the worries of Crescendo’s deeper keel (5.5 ft) on the ICW and now Tom would never be out in a storm tending to the sails. With Snowbird, we had a more guaranteed pace, an inside nav station in foul weather, a refrigerator, a better heater, and with a working generator, air conditioning. That also meant that we could close up against mosquitoes at night. I would no longer be curled up at night next to a toxic insecticide coil with mosquitoes dropping dead on my hair and book as I read. Hearing the water rush, I felt we almost had it all.

It was evident by the neat rows, even spacing and height that the expanses of pine trees had been planted. It was not really unusual to have the wilderness being micromanaged, but it seemed ironic.  We could see into the depths of the forest to a hazy blue distance miles away.

We tried several times to make a call with a sporadic single bar of signal on the phone and failed.

Earlier this morning we had decided to leave the friendly bunch at Sea Gate and headed to Rip and Beth Tyler’s house. Even though the group at Sea Gate Marina thought they had a good mechanic who might be available, they all had gasoline engines, not diesels.  We knew that any mechanic would need a couple of days to analyze and then get parts -probably needing to order a new fuel pump, taking another day or so. As it turned out, they could not contact the mechanic, anyway. As members of MTOA (Marine Trawler Owner’s Association), we had met the Tylers online and they had generously invited us to stay at their dock if we were in the area. The timing was perfect. Since the Tylers knew some good mechanics, we had taken the chance and left.

Unfortunately, on the way, everyone lacked a way to communicate — the Tylers as well as us, so we couldn’t connect until we got there, and it turned out that no mechanic had time time to help us there either.  We were stuck in a weekend, and worse yet, the July 4th weekend. Although we had lost track of time, the rest of the world hadn’t.

Many of the boats these days have bow thrusters, a bit of a randy name, which allow the boat to go sideways to cuddle up to a spot on the dock side, but our 1977 sweetheart doesn’t have one. Tom has worked with bow thrusters on boat tests. It’s a cool device and the concept is as odd as if you went sideways in a car. Diving into a dock spot without one is more problematic.

We had a problem on this trip until Tom realized that if we ignored the dockhands’ directions to throw the bow line and threw them the spring line from the middle of the boat instead, we got in much better. In other places, the docking had been just fine, despite a general apprehension when dockhands didn’t show up as promised or when they put us just a couple of feet from very expensive yachts. I was always glad when the big boats left early and disappeared before I awoke. Being a night owl has its advantages.

We had the docking down pretty well now, but we were about to make an exception for a place that we wanted to be, or at least appear to be, adept and professional.  I waited with a looped line for Tom to get closer to a short dock with pilings on either end jutting out.  I wasn’t sure how that was going to work for our boat, which was longer than the space.  I presaged with a call to Rip and Beth that, “I throw like a girl,” and waited to be at the closest spot. Then, taking a deep breath, I hurled the spring line at them, which fell short into the water. I had fortuitously set up another spring line, so I repeated my effort; it went onto the dock, but slithered away before Rip could get it.

Now the stern was about to hit, so I ran back to cushion that with a fender and to throw the stern line. They were not there to get the rope because the bow started swinging in, so they yelled to get that line to them.  Yep, the bow line went into the water too; Tom had just swung out to make another approach. The turn apparently caught the spring line that was now dragging in the water, and it wrapped around the prop. Tom switched repeatedly into forward and reverse, slacking the line little by little. I gathered it in until Tom came out from the helm and yanked the rest of the line free. It felt like it was my most complete and successful effort yet in incompetence — just in time for meeting new people that Tom might have wanted to impress. Tom made another docking pass and we got in with no more problems.

The Tylers were lovely hosts and their beautiful home and separate workshop building were to be envied — if we were younger. It was quite isolated and beautiful which appealed to the hermit in me, and even wifi and internet had problems finding them. They lived across from a long strip of natural, reserved land, so it will never be built upon. Rip had strung up a whole system of tubes to spritz out sweet-smelling insecticide on a regular schedule so that they could live without being assaulted by mosquitoes. Their large, friendly Labrador played high-five with his paw and was apparently addicted to suntan lotion. The dog licked us clean and looked earnestly for more. We all ate the most wonderful summer sausage, cheese and crackers that Beth made for us and chatted. Since we didn’t have to take care of the place, it seemed like paradise.

A view from their deck

A view from their dock of a planted pine forest in a nature preserve.

I was hoping for a clear night for stars but that night the sky was partially clouded and the moon cast only enough light to see the opposite shore. Beth had said it can get so black out that it was a bit creepy and I believed her.  An owl hooted a few times, but let the world go to sleep after that.

We cast off the next morning and headed for Belhaven on July third.