Oriental to Ocracoke - SailNet Community
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Oriental to Ocracoke

Heading out next week, have the week after the 4th off. Going to head out to Ocracoke for the first time. This is our 1 year wedding anniversary, spent the honeymoon last year at cape lookout. Have a few concerns I'd like to run by you old salts who frequent here.
My biggest fear is the Pamlico, were in a 29 foot boat, I know she can handle some rough weather, we've been caught in it before. But I'd hate to be 4 hours from the nearest safe anchorage and get caught in some weather. Right now Saturday is looking like our best weather window.
Next is the channel. Big foot slough or 9 foot shoal channel? I'm leaning towards 9 foot shoal but have heard multiple story's about groundings. Is this a sound choice with a 4 foot draft?
Next is anchor out, public dock or the anchorage inn marina. Do to how hot it will be next week. Anchorage inn marina looks like the best option just because they have a pool but $70 a night is steep. Also wondering if the marina fills up. Would hate to put money down or reservations and have my weather window change.
Lastly, what's your favorite things to do there. Cool places to visit, bike rentals to beach and etc. I know will we probably need to find someplace with a good air conditioner to kill sometime in the heat of the day.

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post #2 of 6 Old 1 Day Ago
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke

Oriental to Ocracoke is a great trip. You will love it. Yes sometimes the Pamlico Sound can get a little rough but you should be fine in your boat. If it gets crazy, just remember that you are never really that far from land, and you will get to somewhere safe in not too long of a time span. It is OK to be concerned about it, I know I was on my first trip there.

I recommend for your first trip to take Big Foot slough. It takes a little longer but it is more consistent in depth. Nine foot slough is closer to you but often has shoal inc. Be prepared to get passed by one of the car ferries while going down the slough. It will seem very intimidating but there is plenty of room. IMPORTANT. The first part of the channel into Ocracoke is Big Foot slough which is actually a channel out to sea, so leave the red markers to your left. Near the end of the island the channel merges with the channel going into Silver Lake, a very sharp left turn. Now leave the red markers to your right. When you are part way down Big Foot you can easily see the entrance to Silver lake off to your left. Do not be tempted to try to cut across, very good chance you will run aground.

Anchoring in Silver Lake is good, but it will be hot. Bugs may be bad if it is not windy. Anchorage Marina is good as well as the Park Service docks which are cheaper but do not have showers. Lots of good restaurants within easy walking distance. You can also rent bikes and golf carts.

I think I will be out there Friday and some of Saturday. Good luck.
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke

NOAA has booklet charts that are subdivided into 8 x 11 pages, which are handy to supplement your larger charts. You can download these directly at no cost. This link should carry you to NOAA Chart 11550 which covers Ocracoke inlet. In addition to the chart (which is maintained up to date with latest changes), there is valuable information and guidance at the beginning of the chart.


One of the things that is recommended is to use Big Foot Slough channel, not the shallower 9 ft. Channel. It's been a long time since I went, but I also used Big Foot Slough channel (I was coming from Pamlico River, you will be coming from Neuse River). You are going on a holiday weekend, so there might be lots of people there. When I went, I anchored in Silver Lake, but many people use the public docks. On a separate occasion, we stayed at the Anchorage Inn and that was good. A 29 ft. boat in good condition should be fine, but as to weather, it's anyone's guess. This time of year, frequent thunderstorms can come up quickly, and often are not forecast. They sometimes have some really strong winds, but there is always sufficient warning to reduce or drop the sails. When the sky and clouds starts getting dark, it's time to take action on the sails..take them down and go with the engine until the storm passes (if it occurs). Typically, they don't last long. As you can imagine, Ocracoke is a favorite site for sailors in our area. Lots of nice restaurants, and typical sightseeing opportunities. Bike rentals are one way to get around, and much can be seen by simply walking. Call the Anchorage Inn and inquire about docking...you may need reservations for public docks and room for anchoring could be a problem on a holiday weekend. If you are lucky enough to see a ferry entering, follow him....he'll know where the channel exists (it shifts frequently, so, in any case, go slow so if you touch bottom, you can back off and go a slightly different way.)

Maybe someone else can supply more recent information. I think you will enjoy a visit there. Make sure you have made definite arrangements (reservations) in advance.
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke

Use Big Foot Slough.
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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke

Thanks guys, looks like we'll be using 9 foot slough on our approach. Will definitely call ahead to the anchorage inn before we head out. Just not going to make reservations until were sure of our weather window.
Just one more question? I was just checking out the marine forecast. Friday thru sun in the Pamlico there only calling for 1 foot seas. However the same days in the Neuse there calling for a moderate chop? Why is this? A moderate chop on the Neuse will put my rails in the water sometimes.

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Re: Oriental to Ocracoke

Use the one the ferry uses. Is that big foot? I've done it a gazillion times but I don't ever use the name. Very good advice about the markers. Many people feel as if they are coming in from sea when crossing there and put the Reds on their right. I've seen boats aground at least twice, but they were outside the channel on the side of the greens.

Try to travel early in the day to avoid thunderstorms. Don't be afraid to pull well off the rhumb lines and drop an anchor if it's a nasty electrical storm. Consider securite on 13/16 if you do, and all the better if you have AIS or radar reflector, and a horn. Don't worry about all that, just food for thought as far as preparedness.

Not sure what to expect in Silver Lake, you just never know. Hopefully there will be some cool people in the anchorage and you can stack up some boats and there won't be any silliness. Best to not be off the boat if there is a severe thunderstorm, do you have a big fortress or a danforth? It's a good idea to put or have one ready to go out for thunderstorms, which can have 50 knot winds easily when it's hot and unstable.

Ocracoke is awesome. I like it best off season but have been there all times of year, including lots in winter when I've never seen another boat in the anchorage. When temps have dipped into twenties. Brutal on the water.

I've only stayed at the park service docks as far as marinas. I've landed my dink there some too, but over the years, I've wished Silver Lake had a proper dinghy dock. I haven't sailed out there in two seasons, maybe they have one now.

Silver Lake is a good place to consider some affordable moorings. Maybe the park service could have some and you could use their bathrooms. Super affordable option, storm proof, maximize space in the harbor there, and offer some basic services. I think it would be a real asset and it takes the stress out of newbs anchoring around you with storms possible, or just issues with varying rode types, hull shapes/behavior, or whatever. And fit way more boats. In Annapolis in a severe thunderstorm, everyone is hanging out on deck watching the show come in or below having cocktails. In Silver Lake,,everyone has their engines running, another anchor at the ready, and the cocktail program suboptimal. Having some regularly maintained storm rated moorings would make Silver Lake badass. $10 for mooring. $5 for bathrooms. Could the park do this?

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