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Thank You, Oriental!
Bas & Monique Say Dank U
August 30, 2013

T
his letter is to thank all the people in Oriental (and vicinity) that made our forced, four-and-a-half month stay so worthwhile and pleasant. We – a Dutch couple on a stranded sailing boat – wish to thank you for all the help, hospitality and friendship we experienced during this time.

My husband retired early this year, got on his sailing boat, Selena, and crossed the Atlantic. We spent some wonderful weeks in the Caribbean, I flew home and he proceeded to the US.

monique bas schoorl
Monique Nooteboom & Bas Schoorl

330 nautical miles southeast of Beaufort/Morehead City he lost his mast. He did not have enough diesel for the last 40 miles to the Beaufort Inlet so the Coast Guard brought him some. A Coast Guard line got caught in the propeller, so he had to be towed in.

The line was cleared and we thought we’d continue as a motorboat for a while. But that was not to be. The propeller shaft got hot and smelled, so instead of mooring at the Town Dock of Oriental, on April 8 we docked at Deaton’s Boat Yard where we got the “Bad news, Captain”: the motor mounts had broken. So there we were: no mast and no engine.

We soon felt quite at home thanks to the kindness, help and tips we got from the team of Karen and John Deaton and from visiting boaters, especially Barry, a passionate boat renovator working on his latest project “Idle Queen.” He was constantly on the lookout to find us a mast or other useful boat parts.

The occasional use of Deaton’s Cadillac made it possible to sometimes go a bit further then just Oriental.

The first acquaintance we made with a (non-boating) Oriental local was when we walked home from the Tiki Bar one Friday evening. I was telling my husband how much I liked the elegant trees that were in the streets everywhere, and by saying so I tapped with my umbrella against one of these. Behind us someone called: “It’s a-li-ive!” and when we turned in surprise we saw a smiling lady. She explained the trees were crape myrtles and although without bark, leaves let alone flowers now, they would be green and bloom later on (as we were to see!). She invited us in for a beverage and told us about Oriental, the Neuse River, the floods, the Farmer’s Market, and warned that Oriental would “suck us up”.

As we did not have any means of transport other than our feet, we walked to and fro the “centre” of Oriental every day. Of course this was very healthy, but slow and, with the increasing temperatures, also a sweaty job. One evening, walking arm in arm back to Deaton’s, taking yet a different route, we suddenly heard a harsh voice from somewhere up a house: “Cuddling is not allowed in the streets here!”

Somewhat startled we looked up to see someone broadly grinning down on us from his elevated porch. He asked us where we came from, whether we were boaters and we had a nice little chat. He offered us his bikes, saying: “Take’m and when you’re done, doesn’t matter how long, just bring’em back” (he and we not knowing this would be a long time!).

Very soon it became clear that repairs of our 43-year old British engine would not be easy, perhaps even impossible. Our moods went from rivers deep to mountains high, depending on whether – no or yes – we thought a solution was found. Anyway, Selena was to be put “on the hard” and we had to look for a temporary roof over our heads. We then thought for a few days, then a week, then a month, etc.

We found this very nice and practical house on Broad Street which made us feel at home immediately. The landlady and -lord have been ever so nice and helpful and introduced us to “Beer Butt Chicken” at their lovely place one evening.

Our neighbour gave us wifi-access so that we could daily communicate with our children on the other side of the ocean. She told us how people got stuck in Oriental: just like us, they come in for repairs on their boat, stay a few days, a week, a month… and suddenly find they’ve lived here for 20 or more years!

The engine trouble appeared even worse than “just” the mounts and no parts were to be found in the US. Sometimes though, bad/sad things lead to good things: back in Holland for my mum’s funeral, my husband found the part that could save Selena. Back in Oriental, work on the boat resumed.

When we were finally a working motorboat again and ready to go, we found a second hand mast complete with rigging in Bridgeton. Meaning another few “Oriental weeks” to get the mast erected.

By chance – or was it serendipity? – we made friends in Arapahoe, an English/Dutch couple with a live fish transporting company. They’re the most unselfish people we ever met, they actually adopted us.
They showed us around; lent us their tomato red BMW for as long as we needed – and sometimes the Lexus two-seater – and took us out in their Cesna for a flying trip from New Bern along the coast to Ocracoke and Kitty Hawk.

We can imagine that some folks in Oriental must have been wondering what we, Dutch people, were up to: starting as pedestrians, then both paddling along on bicycles, then driving an aged Cadillac, followed by a BMW and even a Lexus! So, I hope we have put that right now….

It looks like we can finally continue our planned trip up North via the ICW and we plan to leave this week.

Everyone in Oriental has been so friendly; giving advice and being patient with us, foreigners, wrestling with banknotes (looking all similar but having different values), side dishes, measuring in cups and inches instead of metric system, etc.

We will miss Oriental and all the things we do not have in Holland: mocking birds, humming birds, cardinals, squirrels, a big variety of beautiful butterflies, the crape myrtles, the American food, the American cordiality and hospitality.

To all of you: again thank you so much!
Monique & Bas on sailing yacht Selena