If you’re new to cruising along the North Carolina coast, fellow NSA members will help you with navigation and local knowledge. Each cruise has a Cruise Leader and there are always friendly NSA sailors who are willing to lend a hand if you have a problem along the way. All cruising events typically have a social hosted by the NSA with appetizers brought by everyone attending. Cruises where a marina is the destination are typically “come by land or sea” events, enabling members to come by land yacht, if they wish.
The following are brief descriptions of the recurring cruises the NSA sponsors each year. You can find dates and more information about upcoming NSA cruises in our Events List. You'll find a link on that page to Past Events if you want to see what you've missed.
The Easter Cruise is our version of an “Ice Breaker” cruise that is scheduled annually around the end of March. This cruise encourages members to get their boats commissioned early in the season so that they are ready for a full cruising season. On this cruise we usually anchor out at West Bay, with a driftwood fire on the beach. If the weather is poor we may change the location to an anchorage that is more favorable, or to a marina, such as River Dunes.
The spring raft-up is another opportunity to practice your anchoring skills. This cruise starts out as a day sail with a raft-up at a specified time at the prearranged location. Once the vessels are all rafted together then the appetizers appear and everyone enjoys good food and good conversation among friends over a nice glass of wine as the sun melts slowly in the west. Then the raftp breaks up and everyone enjoys a leisurely sail back home, or some peel off to anchor for the night if the weather is good.
Memorial Day Cruise
The destination for the Memorial Day cruise is always the same -- Ocracoke. This is probably one of the most popular cruises of the year and some consider it the true start of the cruising season. Officially the fleet meets at the Oriental No. 1 marker and sails to Ocracoke. Those boats that sign up early get assigned to a slip at The Anchorage Inn Marina. When those slips are filled the remaining boats either take a slip at the government docks or anchor out in Silver Lake. Ocracoke offers lots to do. During the weekend members can be seen wandering the streets of Ocracoke to shop, or you may want to visit to the beaches on the Atlantic side where the white sand seems to go on forever with no one in sight. There are plenty of water sports to take advantage of, and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of the island’s wild ponies. This is not a trip to be missed because it holds something special for everyone, regardless of age. A social on the docks of The Anchorage Inn Marina is held on Saturday night. Some start back on Memorial Day while others who have the week off continue to enjoy Ocracoke or head out for other destinations along the coast of North Carolina.
Around the middle of June comes the week-long cruise. Eastern North Carolina has many places to visit by water and the week-long cruise allows us to visit several. Some of the more popular destinations are Manteo, Beaufort, Ocracoke, Bath, Washington, Edenton, and Wilmington with many other destinations along the way. The week-long may be a short trip with leisurely sailing or a more ambitious cruise with a route that takes us to distant locations. In either case, it is always a fun trip and you will get to see many places in North Carolina that are more interesting when you approach them from the water.
Dog Days Cruise
In July the Dog Days Cruise typically takes us to a destination marina. In recent years we have chosen River Dunes because it is an easy sail down river from Oriental and the facilities are top-notch. A social on Saturday on the docks and a relaxing dinner ashore are followed up on Sunday with an easy sail back to Oriental.
Lazy Days Cruise
The Lazy Days Cruise usually finds us anchoring out close to Vandemere, NC. A sail down the Neuse and then hard to port and up the Bay River where there are numerous options for spending the night. Over the years the social has taken many forms, most recently enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs and delicious covered dishes at a hospitable member’s riverfront home.
The fall cruise occurs over the Labor Day weekend and typically finds us sailing to Cape Lookout. Like the Memorial Day Cruise, most of the fleet meets at a predetermined time at Oriental No. 1 where we sail across the Neuse to Adams Creek and from there motor down the ICW to Beaufort. There we go out Beaufort Inlet for the short sail in the ocean to Lookout Bight where we anchor across from Cape Lookout Lighthouse. On Saturday we have a social on the beach as we enjoy the pristine beauty of this special place.
As the days get shorter and the sun goes down earlier and earlier, we soon turn back the clock and eventually have thoughts of pumpkins, ghosts, and Halloween. There are several towns along the NC coast that have Ghost Walks, but our two favorite are Beaufort and New Bern. Whichever location we choose, it is an enjoyable time for all with a social on the docks followed by a Ghost Walk that takes us into homes that were built in the 1700s. At each house we are treated to stories of ghosts and tall tales of strange things that have occurred. Then we follow this up with a dinner ashore. Sunday finds us on the Neuse for the exhilarating sail down river as the temperature tells us that the long autumn days of the South will soon be coming to an end.
Other Cruising Events
Many times our members organize impromptu mini cruises using Facebook, Google+, or our own social tools available for members on the NSA website. These cruises are usually based on near-perfect weather forecasts or events at the targeted location. Keep checking the Events List and keep involved by using our community tools on Facebook, Google+ and the Members-Only section of our website.
See you on the water
If you are a member of the NSA, there is nothing extra you have to join and no extra dues to be paid to participate in these events. Just come on out and play. For daysails and raft-ups, you don’t even need to make a reservation, just show up and enjoy. For other cruises you will need to sign up. By doing so you get slotted on the list for a prime slip at the destination marina or marinas. With our website we make that process extremely easy. Check out our Events List or Events Calendar and click on the sign-up form. You won’t regret it. And after all, that’s why you purchased your sailing yacht in the first place, right?