Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coinjock, NC to Belhaven, NC

Friday, October 23, 2009

Island Hopper departed Coinjock at 8:05 AM.Temperatures were in the low 80's, winds SW 15 -20, and the seas were 1 -2. It was a beautiful and sunny day to be on the water. Island Hopper arrived at Belhaven Marine Center at 3:00 PM. It was a very pleasant voyage.

When Daniel Latham built a hunting and fishing camp in 1868 on what is now the River Forest Manor, Jack's Neck was little more than a small settlement inhabited by a few farmers and fishermen. In time, the town changed its name to Belhaven, and a half-dozen lumber companies began supplying wood products produced from the local mills. With the addition of a rail spur from the Norfolk and Southern Railroad, and the port's location near Pamlico Sound, the town soon became a vital transportation artery for the distribution of goods throughout eastern North Carolina. Many of the grand homes built in the later 1800s and early 1900s remain standing today. The finest of all is River Forest Manor, completed in 1904. (Debbie & Kevin went through the manor and it looks tired and needs exterior painting and interior updating.) The first owner of River Forest Manor was John Aaron Wilkinson, president of Roper Lumber Company and vice president of Norfolk and Southern railroad. Italian craftsmen were commissioned to carve the ornate ceilings, and by 1904, the mansion was complete with carved oak mantles for each of the 11 fireplaces, sparkling cut glass leaded into windows, crystal chandeliers glittering from the ceilings, tapestries placed above the mahogany wainscoting in the dining room and two baths so large that they included over sized tubs for two. Today the building is a country inn, restaurant and marina. ( Seafood and farming remain a major source of income for residents in and around Belhaven, but change is coming as local and national developers look to reshape the banks of the Pungo River and Pantego Creek. Day Beacon, a new waterfront town home community located just inside the breakwater on what used to be the old Belhaven Waterway Marina, is one of the first to offer upscale living. After docking the boat Kevin and Debbie jumped on their bikes to explore the town. The downtown is full of empty store fronts. The economy has really hit this small town. It was actually sad to see the amount of closed businesses since their last visit 15 months ago. They made dinner reservations at the Back Bay Cafe. Riding through the neighborhood was a pleasant view of the waterfront and some lovely homes. The Back Bay Cafe is located in "Wines and Words". It is a wine store and bookstore. The owner's wife is the chef. Debbie & Kevin had a wonderful bottle of French Beaujolais, and a very enjoyable meal of salmon and ribs. This small restaurant was truly a find.

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