Journey down memory creek

We departed Beaufort NC after a week. Some bad weather and the first named Tropical Storm; Arthur formed and came close to Cape Hatteras before heading off towards Bermuda.

The storm threw some wind at us, and lots of rain. We were rained in for several days in Beaufort before we had a chance to pull out and head off to New Bern NC.  New Bern is a special place for me, as I spent some quality time there when I was 12- 16 years old. I think it is where I developed my love for boats, and the outdoors, hunting and fishing.  We lived there almost 50 years ago, at Brice’s Creek. Our home was on the water overlooking the marshlands that separated the creek from the Trent River.

I had a 14’ John Boat, with a 20 HP Mercury outboard. It was my boat and my responsibility to keep up.  I learned to handle the skiff and was responsible enough to keep the oversized motor at about ½ throttle most of the time. I learned to bass fish, fly fish, run a trot line, run a gill net from that boat.

A good friend of mine, name Jimmy Hearne was my weekend companion. He lived in town, but his grandparents had a home on the creek, and Jimmy would come to Brice’s Creek to see them. We became fishing buddies for the four years I lived there.

We docked Southern Star at the New Bern Grand Marina, with Roam.  As we went through the bridge which opened on demand, we approached the marina, and spotted another Nordhavn 47, Paragon docked in front of us. We had three Nordhavns at the marina on the outside of the face dock.

Jenny and Michelle took off for a walk as soon as we were tied up. I got my IPad out and googled Jimmy Hearne. Damned if I didn’t get a phone number. And so I called and we reconnected and agreed to meet up in two days.

Our first afternoon we walked around New Bern, the place is well maintained and the old houses are nice, with signage telling visitors the age of the houses.

We launched the tenders on Sunday and headed up the Trent River, past the railroad trestle, and past big mansions perched on massive green lawns, with long wooden docks. We ventured up the river and I turned left into Brice’s Creek. The old steel boat that has been wrecked in front of the marsh grass was gone. Most of the houses were new, and none looked familiar.

I did find our old property, by the unique feature of a concrete bunker built into the earth above a dock, which was new, but I recognized some of the old original pilings that were still standing off of the shore line. Our old house had been replaced, but the concrete room was still there and was filled with kayaks on racks, and the room’s roof was a sundeck.

We continued up the creek past the old bridge, past Brocks store, now called Merchants Store. We travelled for miles, pulling into a series of three lakes (old rock quarries) where I used to go to fish and to hunt for squirrels.  ‘Nello Teer’, it was called when we lived here, was full of boats, most of which were rafted together with people sunbathing and a few even floating non rafts and enjoying the nice weather.

We journeyed up the creek until it grew narrow, and the cypress tree limbs almost touched across the creek. The water is as black as strong coffee, but deep in the creek even where it narrows. Our GPS chart said we were on land as we navigated the 14 foot depth.

We turned around and headed back toward the river after enjoying the primeval swamp. It is a very refreshing feeling to go back to a place where I used to love to loose myself, after 50 years, and it not disappoint. It was as nice and calming and as untouched as I remembered it.

I met Jimmy Hearne the next day. He came down to the marina. I walked up to the gate to let him in. He no longer had the curly afro hair style of a 16 year old boy back in the 1970s. His was still brown, but straight and only slightly thinning, his forehead has grown over the years.

But soon, we were just like the old days. Telling fishing stories, discussing places we’d gone to fish, or in Jimmy’s case to hunt. Four hours flew by and we departed with a warm feeling of quality time spent together, both today and fifty years ago.  We agreed to stay in touch.

Roam and Southern Star left New Bern the next day, and spent a few nights at the marina in Belhaven; waiting for some more poor weather to move by.  We did the long days up the Alligator River and through Albemarle and Currituck Sounds, and stayed two nights at Atlantic Yacht Basin, also waiting for weather from Tropical Storm Bertha to blow by.

After fueling up Southern Star, we did our last run for a while, through to Mile 0 in the ICW and past the craziness that is the Norfolk Harbour – tugs, tows, container ships, superyachts, Coast Guard cutters, aircraft carriers and even a submarine heading out to sea.

And finally we are now docked at York River Yacht Haven. Roam is here with us, as they plan to take some road trips and will use YRYH as their base this summer.  We also learned that another Nordhavn friend, Beverly S N46, with Larry and Sue on board are using York River as their summer home.

It feels good to be settled again for a while. We are very early from our past travels through the area. When we arrived here at York River last night it was chilly. But I find that refreshing, as we are usually sweltering from the heat, and hiding in our air conditioning on the boat. That will come soon enough, I am afraid. The pool is closed currently, but as a private facility it will be opening later in June.

Virginia is only partially open, and there are a lot more restrictions which are being taken much more seriously by the population here. Masks are everywhere, even outside, and mandatory inside. Shopping, restaurants and outdoor areas are opening to some degree, but with restrictions. We feel safer here than in the southern states we passed through. And we are tied up at a good marina, tucked in and well protected, with good facilities, a courtesy car, a restaurant and ship store on site, and friends around us. Life is good.

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