While successful entry can be just a tiny bit tricky for first timers, South River provides what is, for my money, the best set of anchorages off the Neuse River. We particularly like to drop the hook off the long deserted community of “Lukens,” or, if time is not a concern and/or heavy weather is in the offing, Eastman Creek is almost idyllic!
While Diana and Mark don’t cover all the South River anchorages we list in our Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net North Carolina Anchorage Directory, they have caught most of the best ones, and they list one on Big Creek that I’ve never tried due to the presence of a commercial fish processing operation!
Of course, all the info below is taken from the Doyle’s just released, two volume paper set of AICW AnchorGuides. Learn more at http://www.OnTheWaterChartGuides.com.
Admit it, how many times have we all anchored off Oriental’s waterfront or at nearby Cedar Creek along Adams Creek?
If you’ve had enough ice cream at The Bean, what about trying something different next time you have a few days in the area?
Off the Neuse River is the lovely South River, at STM 178.1, a worthwhile 6- to 9-mile detour off the ICW’s Magenta Line. Reminiscent of Chesapeake Bay cruising, South River has many anchoring options, varied protection, and scenic wooded shorelines.
Here’s a quick overview of two anchorages “on the way” and then our favorite, Eastman Creek.
Hardy Creek Anchorage
This is the South River anchorage closest to the ICW, so it’s a good place to stop if you don’t have time to continue up South River until the next day. Pet owners will particularly like this stop, with easy shore access at a street-end bulkhead (look for three street signs), good for an evening walk through a quiet rural residential neighborhood.
Moving further upriver to explore South River, Big Creek is much more protected than Hardy Creek. It’s a quiet anchorage in a broad spacious river set in wooded marsh, with an easy entry off South River. But no shore access and, lately, a reputed 11-footer. Alligator that is!
If you like quiet, scenic, solitude, then continue up the South River (9 miles off the ICW) to Eastman Creek. It’s worth the detour—presumably the quest for a bucolic anchorage is what motivated you to explore the South River in the first place!
Other than a prominent house at the creek entrance, it’s a pristine setting of marsh and woods. There’s no shore access, but you can splash the kayaks, dinghy explore, or toss in some fish lines.
And Diana has an insider naturalist’s tip for you if you visit this anchorage in the early spring: Take your sundowner on deck at dusk and listen for a nasal “peent” call followed by an eery winnowing noise. Those are male American Woodcocks, aka timberdoodles, doing their “sky dance” aerial courtship displays. If you look closely you may actually spot a bird zig-zagging downward. The winnowing noise is created by the rushing air vibrating their tail feathers as the bird plummets from about 300 feet in the air. It’s one of the unique sounds and spectacles of spring—which you can view from the box seats of your cockpit or flybridge.
Best and see you On the Water,
Captains Mark & Diana Doyle
Well, clearly I’m a little behind the times when it comes to Big Creek (see below). I know what happened. After encountering an unhappy smell here years ago, we have always just anchored elsewhere on South River, and have not stuck our nose in this sidewater for many years. I’ll know better now!
I live on Big Creek and I can assure you that any commercial fish processing operation is long gone. Nothing here but a few homes and the 11 foot aligator.