From a boater’s perspective, Edenton, North Carolina is one of those destinations you have to want to go to. We left Elizabeth City and traveled some 15 miles down the Pasquotank River to the Albemarle Sound. The Albemarle is best known for its unpleasant conditions if the weather is not right. Under normal conditions, it’s no different than any other body of water we have transited. Once into the Albemarle from the Pasquotank, the trip is another 35 miles or more west to the entrance to Edenton harbor. (It is more than 40 miles off the Virginia Cut route.) The water depths are fine for the entire trip, but do keep a sharp lookout for the many commercial floats marking traps that can extend far out into the Sound.
The Edenton town docks have a full time Harbormaster and staff, but they don’t monitor the VHF radio. To make arrangements for a slip, Buddy the Harbormaster, can usually be reached at 252-339-4316. The docks can be reserved in advance, and you can even make reservations for next year if you can plan that far ahead. The best thing to do is to call ahead and let them know you’re coming, and then call again when the boat is in the approach channel to the harbor. The water depths approaching the town docks averaged 10½ to 12 feet all the way in and 11 feet coming into the basin. The docks are surrounded by a concrete seawall that helps keep the waves down from any southerly winds. It can still get a little rolly, but not uncomfortable if the wind kicks up. From any other direction, the basin is completely protected. As you arrive, the first thing that will greet you at the harbor entrance is the old, picturesque Roanoke River Lighthouse that is being restored and will soon open to the public. Inside the protected basin, we had a dockhand waiting to assist us in getting into our slip. The slips vary in size, and for larger boats, there are places to tie up along the inside of the breakwater. There is power and water at the slips and the first 48 hours of dockage is free. The power is charged at $3.00 per day for 30-amp service and $6.00 per day for 50-amp service. After 48 hours, there is an additional fee of $1.00 per foot per day for a maximum of 7 days in a month.
For the boaters, the town offers the use of a vehicle for running errands and provisioning. The grocery and laundry are 2-3 miles from the dock, and other shopping and services are as far or farther. There is a local taxi service for any short hops that might be needed if the loaner car is not available. The docks are located at a park and the restrooms are part of the park building. Separate showers are available and boaters need the combination to access the showers. The restrooms are closed at night after park hours but the showers have heads and sinks. There is free wifi at the docks and water hook ups as well. Dockside services and repairs are available as is a diver if needed. The Harbormaster can provide contact phone numbers and any other information that might make your stay more pleasant. There are kayak and paddleboard rentals right next to the park with very scenic waterways to explore either by kayak or your own dinghy. Beautiful parks line the waterfront for a casual stroll or just relaxing on a bench to watch the world go by. For some major exercise, there are tennis courts and an excellent golf course nearby, The Chowan Golfand Country Club. For those of us that prefer walking as a form of exercise, there are walking tours of the beautiful historic homes and sites, or a riding tour on a trolley for those that prefer their sightseeing a little more relaxed.
Downtown Edenton is one of the prettiest, historic small towns we have visited thus far. The streets are lined with buildings that date back to the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, and the shops are filled with restaurants, galleries and a major hardware store. Byrum Hardware is a combination old style hardware, gift and craft shop and even houses a Radio Shack. There is the historic Taylor Movie Theater showing feature films in new digital format every evening. TheWaterman’s Grill offers excellent food at affordable prices. The Edenton CoffeeShop makes the best cup of coffee, latte or iced coffee we have found anywhere, and hosts a band on Friday nights. The music can range from jazz to gospel. And our favorite, ice cream, can be found at The Soda Shoppe, an old fashion soda fountain style shop that sells ice cream, shakes, sandwiches and snacks. Along with great food and drinks, you will find some of the friendliest people you will meet anywhere. Walking down the sidewalk will get you a smile and a hello, and passing motorists will always wave as they go by. Edenton is one of those laid back towns where we keep waiting for Sheriff Andy and Opie to come around the corner with fishing poles over their shoulders.
The best word to describe the many beautiful historic homes along the tree lined streets of Edenton is spectacular. Never have we seen so many well preserved homes. If you take away the paved streets, power lines and automobiles, it’s easy to imagine walking along in the 1700s and saying hello to the many residents as they enjoy an afternoon on the front porch. One well manicured garden after another can fill an entire afternoon’s stroll. If pampering yourself is in your schedule, there are 3 salons on Broad Street alone and a day spa that is reported to give excellent massages right on the harbor. The Library across the street from the docks offers yoga daily. Edenton truly has something for everyone.
Ah, but we’re not done yet. During this current visit, Edenton was having its 300 year celebration with many events scheduled over the coming months. A Farmers Market is held every other Saturday and the local airport holds “Wings Over Edenton,” an air show with exhibits, on a regular basis. The annual Peanut Festival is a don’t miss, and you never know what celebration the town has prepared in any month of the year. Tours of many of the historic homes are available on a regular basis, and, during the Christmas Season, you can tour some of the homes and apartments over the many shops in the downtown area. Edenton is rich in our nation’s history and the town has done an excellent job of preserving that history for everyone to enjoy, such as the current renovations to the exterior of the Barker House on the waterfront.