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Cruise into Edenton Harbor Birthday Bash

An assortment of vessels visit the historic waterfront in Edenton. Photo by Jo Lucey

An assortment of vessels visit the historic waterfront in Edenton. Photo by Jo Lucey

As part of a year-long celebration of the 300th anniversary of its founding, the historic town of Edenton, N.C., is hosting “Cruise into Edenton Harbor” May 6-12 with free dockage at the city marina.

But the hospitality doesn’t end there. When the marina’s nine slips fill up, plans call for a free water taxi to serve vessels anchoring off the waterfront. Slips are also available at Edenton Marina (edentonmarina.com), an eight-block hike from downtown. Once ashore, there will be free trolley tours and guided tours of the historic town, a free shuttle to area shops and a pot luck supper and reception hosted by the Edenton Yacht Club under a tent in front the historic Barker House.

“We wanted to use the 300th celebration as an excuse to create an opportunity for the northbound cruisers to turn left and come and explore the west end of the Albemarle Sound,” said EYC Commodore Brian FitzSimons. “Most of them scuttle from the Alligator River across the sound to the Pasquotank River because they have heard and read so much about how rough the Albemarle Sound can be. Although that is true of any large expanse of water, it is no worse on the Albemarle Sound than anywhere else, and we wanted to provide a good enough excuse for them to contemplate braving the elements and discovering the delights of the west end of the sound.”

Some EYC members are offering to host cookouts at their homes on the Yeopim and Scuppernong Rivers, providing convenient stops en route to Edenton for those exploring the sound. Fill out the registration form at visitedenton.com/cruiser/ to book either of those events.

Cruising into Edenton’s cypress-lined harbor is like a trip back in time. Colonial-era structures abound in a vibrant shopping district. When first settled by British, the town was declared the capital of the Carolina Colony and its official port of entry. It served as home to the royal governors, a commercial and social hub for plantations that sprung up in the surrounding area, and a major trading port.

The commercial vessels that once unloaded trade goods from around the world long ago moved on to larger ports, but the city still plays a vital role in the modern maritime industry. Today, a number of sportfishing boat builders call Edenton home, including Albemarle, Calyber Boatworks, Carolina Classic and Regulator Marine. It is also home to General Boats, maker of the Rhodes trailer sailors. Most are clustered around the small airport five miles to the southeast of the main waterfront.

Visitors traversing these waters where the Chowan River enters the Albemarle Sound are primarily cruisers seeking the kind of authentic charm found by strolling the historic downtown streets.

“If this works, Edenton may well decide to do it every year to catch the northbound cruisers,” FitzSimons said.

Some may enjoy the visit so much, they might want to explore the area and return at the end of the month for the 15th annual Edenton Music and Water Festival, including a guided sunset kayak paddle, Coast Guard demonstrations, two music stages, roving musicians, free boat rides, arts, crafts, food booths, children’s games and more. The fun takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in and around Colonial Park on Edenton Bay.

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