Sunday, November 4, 2012

After Hurricane Sandy

     Our stay in Belhaven was interesting. We hadn't been back to the town for eight years and I assumed that a certain amount of gentrification would have happened with the rise and eventual fall of the real estate boom. Joe ventured ashore to the local library to check emails since Verizon service is non-existent in Belhaven. So there were no phone calls to family for more than a week.

  When Joe returned to the boat he said, "Well things have really changed in eight years." I took the "bait" and said, "It's all built up right?" His answer was that there were fewer stores opened in town than the last time. Belhaven had been devastated by 4.5 feet of flood water during hurricane Irene in August of 2011. It had also been flooded by hurricane Isabel in 2003 just prior to our visit that year. it seems that Belhaven can't catch a break.

     The heart of the town still has a strong pulse in spite of its troubles. The hardware store remains in its original location in the historic part of town as well as the newly renovated, welcoming library with its very helpful staff members. A new tavern is under construction in the historic part of town and a free dock has been constructed for visiting cruisers that will provide electric and water alongside.

     There is a museum located above city hall displaying a plethora of collectables which range from antique to the bizarre. I had nightmares for days after seeing the 10 pound tumor preserved in a jar that had been removed from a local woman many years ago.

     Grocery shopping is about a mile walk from the free dock. Joe and I made the trek to the store several times during our stay and never had to walk back. Each time locals stopped along the bypass road offering rides back to the harbor even if it was out of their way.

     During our stay we met a local man Don Jones at the dinghy dock. He invited us to attend a chili cook off with him and his wife Nancy at the Belhaven Yacht Club that afternoon! I had an interesting chat with Nancy who is an artist and painter. We had a wonderful afternoon together and she invited us to dinner at their home the following day. During the yacht club party we were also introduced to the very welcoming Commodore Don Stark and his wife Marjie.

     Last Thursday with rumblings of hurricane warnings, Joe decided that we should leave Belhaven harbor for a more protected anchorage. Hurricane Sandy was barreling up the Bahamas and tropical storm warnings were in effect in Belhaven for the weekend with northeasterly winds forecast that would eventually switch to the north. After examining the charts Joe found Dowry Creek which is about an hour by boat from Belhaven. He felt it would offer the best protection for our situation.

     As it turned out Simple Life and we were fine. Since it appeared that we were protected, we stayed aboard during the storm. Several other cruising vessels pulled into the Dowry Creek Marina where nightly cocktail parties were held as well as pot luck dinners which helped to pass the time. One cruiser who publishes and sells On the Water Chartguides also organized several cruising seminars each day. Joe attended all of the seminars and said they were as informative as any boat show seminars.

     We have sailed south with our attempt to make up some lost time spent waiting out hurricane Sandy. We planned to visit Beaufort, NC but gale warnings are in effect for Wednesday. Beaufort's anchorage is relatively tight with little swinging room. Our consensus was to anchor in the harbor Saturday evening and quickly move south on Sunday hopefully escaping the forecast gale and making progress farther south.

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