We lucked out on our return crossing of Albemarle Sound today. No major wave action or high winds to make it fearsome; just more crab pot floats concentrated in one body of water than we’d ever seen. It was an obstacle course of the worst kind and we had to keep all four eyes (or eight eyes including sunglasses) open all the time.
|Was Goodyear Blimp born here?|
As we headed into the Pasquotank River (related to the Piankatank?) to Elizabeth City, we noticed a huge structure to port. A huge blimp next to it reminded us that we had read in the cruisers’ guide about this “blimp factory” being here since WWII days. It seems that the blimps of that era greatly reduced the number of German U-boat sinkings along the NC coast. Now all blimps except for the Goodyear one are manufactured here.
Elizabeth City Legends
We had read so much about the welcome mat that Elizabeth City lays out for cruisers and were anxious to experience it. I’m happy to report that the “Rose Buddies” legend of hospitality continues.
Nearly another 100 years later in 1983, the complimentary (as in free) city docks were built and cruisers (who love anything free) began to arrive. Two long time residents, Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer (may they rest in peace) started hosting free wine and cheese parties for visiting cruisers and giving roses to the “First Mates.”
|Dave Thomas and his wife are "Rose Buddies."|
The ex-mayor, Steve Atkinson, also gave us heads-up on the local restaurants, wine tastings, free concerts and classid movie nights, Saturday farmers market, and Museum of the Arbemarle (also free though they accept donations). He's quite an ambassador for the city too. Elizabeth City Convention & Visitors Bureau Director, Charlotte Underwood, warmly welcomed all of us as well.
Roses are still given to the wonderful first mates at the end of this party. Small town hospitality never felt so warm and genuine. I asked Dave if he’ll hand the Rose Buddy baton to anyone some day, and he assured me that there’s someone in the wings.
This was only the second Rose Buddy party this year since they only hold it when 5 or more boats are in the slips. Guess we’re on the front end of the snow bird parade north. Hope you can be so lucky.
|Southern NC Hospitality|
After the Rose Buddy wine and cheese, we headed to a yummy dinner at Cypress Creek Grill.
Elizabeth City deserves this self-proclaimed nickname, "Harbor of Hospitality." Sometime ya just gotta toot your own horn.