Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Alligator River to Columbia NC - Day 1

We arrived in Columbia NC

Up early and off the dock at Alligator River Marina by 8:25AM.  We didn’t have a long day planned (35+/- miles) but we wanted time to tour our first stop – Columbia NC – in daylight hours. As soon as we stuck our nose into the Albemarle Sound we remembered the very important role that wind plays in our adventure. Ripples turned to chop, chop turned to waves, waves turned to swells and swells turned to bigger swells (think: 1’ -4’ beam to bow action).  Then we turned off the Albemarle Sound onto the Scuppernong River…ahhh, calm wind and water. Side note: because of our Bahamas cruising experience, this was a completely acceptable travel day.
Phanthom safely docked! Check out that handsome dock hand!
The Scuppernong River has a couple deep bends and plenty of depth. Before you know it there’s the Columbia Municipal Docks! And oh boy!!! These docks were not meant for Trawler sized boats!  The Lower Place (42’) was leading the way and Phanthom (53’) was following waaaay back – it was a GOOD THING! We were too wide for the slips (14’3” beam will not slide into 12’-we tried).  The “lay along wall” wasn’t long enough for 95’ of boat! And of course, this dock is unmanned (no one to give instruction or suggestion).
The Lower Place (fore) and Phanthom - snugged in for the night
Ok, we can do this! We decided to point our bow toward the wall and securely tie off to the pilings on the port side.  Being young and agile we climbed over the side rail, placed our steps next to the pump out machine.  This position allowed Phanthom to drive behind us, turn 180° and “lay along” the dock on his starboard side. Herb is solo on his boat so he gets preferred dockage and we also grab his lines (sometimes in self-defense)!  Teamwork makes the dream work!!

Before long I was off to the Visitor’s Center to get the lay of the land (super friendly ladies), town hall to register for the night ($3 for power, free dockage) and back to the boat to get the guys!  We had a town to explore!!
First, lunch!
First stop was lunch!  Tienda Mexicana Peniel – authentic! No “chips & salsa filler” here, fresh and delicious AND a little provisioning if you wish. Next, I toured the Columbia Theater and Box Office Antiques – yay!! A locally sourced museum depicting the town history – small, well-appointed, self-guided…and FREE!! The guys found the Hardware and NAPA stores and we met in the street.
Not Kidding!
I used the Points of Interest map provided at the Visitor’s Center to peek in the shop windows as most were closed. Then we found ourselves in a neighborhood reading a front yard sign stating “Barber Shop out back” (I FAILED to snap a pic!). We followed the brick sidewalk around and lo and behold!!  There’s Mr. Reynolds Barber Shop!!  The guys each decided they needed a haircut (would ANY woman EVER do this??).  We walked in and Charlie said, “You still cutting hair?” A man was in the chair so they waited.  Seems Mr. Reynolds started cutting hair in 1957!! He was very interesting but didn’t say much, I’m sure he was more amused by our visit and conversation.  Herb asked “How much for the cut?”  Mr. Reynolds responded, “$8.00 if you have, nothing if you don’t.”  Yes, we have stepped back in time…
Mr. Reynolds Barber Shop
More walking, looking and commenting about various buildings, homes and businesses…and the lack of traffic!
Main Street at 2:40 PM

Columbia has a rich history you can read about in books or online but the richest part of our first stop on the Albemarle Loop has certainly been the people!!

Tomorrow we cruise on the Plymouth…

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