We have spent the last week in South and North Carolina waters, and I believe, these are some of the nicest waters for cruising. Not that the water is actually all that “nice”; it still carries an “ice tea” hue, and I am afraid if I jump in I will come out looking like a wet tea bag… But everything else about this area is, well, nice! The scenery, the ease of travel, the people, the towns, yup, you guessed it, all nice.
After days of being on the boat, we came to the town of Southport, South Carolina. We had heard from some boater friends, that there was a restaurant there called The Provision Company that would allow you to dock for free overnight if you ate at their establishment. I called the day before, just to make sure that was still the case, and was told by the super friendly, young guy who answered the phone, that it was no problem. “Y’all just come on in, tie up and stay with us”. As I have said before, one of the things I love about being in this part of the states is the accent. Anything said with a
The Provision Company
Free dock if you eat a meal
southern drawl just sounds friendly, relaxed and soothing. I imagine it is why no one seems to be in a really bad mood around here, how can you be when everyone around you is talking with a twang?
We arrived in Southport earlier in the day on Tuesday, and decided before eating, we would run some errands. I had found out about a lovely company cYc’s Concierge Services that provides local transportation services to transient boaters (Southport is somewhat lacking in public transportation). For $15, Hank, the friendly and very knowledgeable owner of the company, offered to drive us wherever we liked and wait for us as long as we needed (no distance or time limits). A great deal! We headed off to Walmart, where I think I shocked Hank with the speediest provision shopping he said he has ever witnessed. I have become pretty adept at this stock up on a time limit thing – no fooling around (we save that for the boat…haha!).
Mid afternoon, we decided to eat a late lunch, and so we meandered into The Provision Company. Firstly, it was amazing that they let us dock there for free for the night, just
The Pilot's Tower
An old watchtower in Southport where boat pilots would watch for large ships coming into port
for eating a meal. On top of that, the food was fabulous, and very reasonable. Their locally caught shrimp, corn and a homemade crab cake were taaaasty! And they have an “honor system” bar. You just grab beer or wine from the cooler, keep track of what you drank, and went up to the till at the end and let them know. Ummm…yup. The people around here have got to be pretty nice! Who just leaves the beer out for grabs? My biggest question was how accurately do people keep track after the first few rounds? But they are a very popular spot, and it must work out for them in the end.
After lunch, we went for a short walk and stopped at a local fish shack to purchase some fresh shrimp. At $7 a pound for jumbo shrimp, we couldn’t go wrong. And with the shrimp boat parked right out back and the guy who caught them bagging the shrimp, we were assured they were fresh caught. While Lukus went back to the boat to stash our find in the fridge (and rest), I decided to continue my walk.
Southport is another quaint, eclectic American town.
Unlike many of the small towns we stopped in along the rivers in Illinois and Indiana, which seemed to be forsaken to the past, the towns along the Eastern seaboard appear to be thriving. While slower paced and quieter than the tourist towns we have mostly avoided, these towns offer their own historic heritage mixed with cute shops, services and eateries. As I walked along the charming streets, I came across a hair salon, and on a whim, I stopped in to see if I could get a haircut. It has been almost a year since I have even had a trim, and I began to wonder if the acceleration of my hair loss was due to that. As it turned out, they had an opening and squeezed me in. Again, all I can tell you is that these “little things” can make one so appreciative. Clean laundry, showers, fresh vegetables, a run in a park, and now, hair cuts have become my “happy things”.
Later that evening, we decided to try a few more things on the menu at the Provision Company, not just because the food was great, but the staff there were so inviting. While we
"Ice Tea'" waters
Even though I am not tempted to get into the water, it is still a very pretty, amber hue
feasted on clams, tuna, and some amazing onion rings, I watched as the staff flitted here and there. Even as the last morsel of food was in your mouth, they would be over to pick up garbage, clear plates and gather empties. All the while, they looked like they were actually having fun
…at work?! Amazing! They would joke with each other and the patrons, making everyone feel like they were amongst family and friends.
In total, even having eaten two meals at the restaurant, we ended up spending less than we would have at a marina. And we met some great people, ate good food, and…I didn’t have to cook that day!!
The following day, we stopped at New River Marina on the border of North and South Carolina for fuel. WE had read that they have the cheapest fuel in the area, $1.89 a gallon for diesel!! We arrived at the marina just before 5pm, which was closing time, so we asked if we could just tie up at the fuel dock and they could fill us in the morning. “Sure thing, no problem hun. Y’all just stay there.” In the morning, they filled our tanks first
thing, and there was no charge for the dock. (sensing a theme here? Friendly, welcoming and free docks
Our next main stop was another free
dock, this time in a North Carolina town called Oriental. I should have known with a name like that, I would like the town.
From our first walk down the streets of Oriental, we felt at home. There is a peacefulness and lushness to the town that is endearing. Lukus commented that he would like living there, which is rare for him to say about a town
, he is more the out in the wild
kind of guy. Walking down some of the streets, it felt you were in the countryside with all the trees, open spaces and marshy ponds.
The people in Oriental are truly boat lovers. They go above and beyond to accommodate transient boaters; making this a very popular spot for people to stop. We had so many locals tour by the boat, stopping to chat and admire the boat. Within the first 24 hours there, I was stopped numerous times to talk about the boat and our trip. Two couples on bikes stopped me on the street with
the greeting; “hey, are you on Abgail?” Once again, it amazes Lukus how much attention his creation draws.
The townspeople would also share information about the town’s amenities. The local grocery store, which is about 2 miles away, will pick you up from your boat, take you to the store, and bring you back for no charge if you buy $75 worth of groceries. The local motel, right next door to the dock, will let you have showers for $5 a person. There are free bathrooms, and a local business has free bikes for guests to take for as long a ride as they want.
We were in Oriental over the weekend, during which they were hosting a lovely art show in the motel courtyard. We meandered over on Saturday afternoon to admire the arts and crafts made by local artists. There, I heard someone calling out “Miss Abigail”. The two couples on bikes I had met earlier had a display set up with paintings and woodwork. Within moments, we had a lively conversation going and they were buying us drinks and swapping life stories. This is one of the things I enjoy about the transient lifestyle; when
you meet people, you get to know each other very quickly. There is little trivial conversation; you end up diving right into the meat of life.
After helping Cathy, David, Martha and Bill pack up their art display into their vehicles, we were invited to come to their home later in the evening for drinks if we were so inclined. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it, but the following morning, I did get to say goodbye when I took a run by their house.
We had full intentions of stopping by their house, but, as things seem to go with us, plans changed (hence why we hesitate to make real “plans”). In the end, we somehow ended up at the tiki bar at the motel next door and dancing the night away to an amazing musician, Barefoot Wade. This guy put a whole new twist on the concept of “one-man band”. Using a loop machine, he would set base lines with a guitar, bass, drum machine, even a ukulele, and then add in melody with a steel drum, harmonica, even a kazoo!! His vocals would complete the ensemble. In between he would make jokes, which he laughed heartily at;
what a talented guy!
We left Oriental on Sunday and began our trek north once more. We have since left the state of North Carolina and are now in Virginia waters. And so far, the theme of “nice” seems to be continuing.!!
Tot: 3.025s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 11; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0468s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 3;
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