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February 16, 2023. Originally known as Jack’s Neck, the once fishing village turned thriving small town of lumber companies and a branch of the Norfolk and Southern Railway was officially named Belhaven in 1899. It again made history in September of 1928 when Belhaven, NC became the final link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway? The ICW officially opened with a celebration in Belhaven at the River Forest Manor, now known as the River Forest Manor and Marina. For those who love cruising the Intracoastal waterways of America’s East Coast, the world has never been the same. In our years of CruisingTheICW, we have found no other destination as serious as Belhaven when it comes to recognizing the economic importance of ICW transient cruisers. It also helps that Carol Roop, Executive Director of the Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center, has a history of cruising and understands first hand the impact the boating market can have on small towns along the ICW.
From the Belhaven Visitors Guide, “In 1928, Belhaven had a BIG party celebrating the final link of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Alligator Pungo Canal.“
“According to the August 26 and August 31, 1928 editions of the Raleigh News and Observer, the 2500 residents of Belhaven welcomed 20,000 visitors to their shores for a massive celebration on Thursday, August 30, 1928.“
To this day, Belhaven embraces its role as the birthplace of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the role transient boaters play in the local economy. Just like the town, the local marinas like Belhaven Marina, Belhaven Town Dock, River Forest Manor and Marina, T.J.’s Marina and Boatyard, and Dowry Creek Marina welcome transient boaters with open arms. While Belhaven Marina, and Belhaven Town Dock are easy walking distance to downtown restaurants, River Forest Manor and Marina, T.J.’s Marina and Boatyard, and Dowry Creek Marina, and offer a courtesy vehicle and/or golf carts for your convenience.
VisitBelhaven, also known as Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center, overlooks Belhaven Town Dock, and offers boaters a complete visitors guide in PDF format straight from their website, and a comfortable Welcome Center to visit upon arrival. For those who enjoy Thinking Outside the Boat, the guide is a wonderful introduction to Belhaven and Beaufort County, and things to see and do while visiting. Download and open the guide to see the many reasons transient cruisers enjoy including Belhaven in their itineraries when cruising north and south on the ICW.
Downtown Belhaven is blessed with restaurants that any community along the ICW would welcome. Spoon River is a 5-Star “farm to table” restaurant that one might never expect to find in a small, rural coastal town. Across the street from Spoon River, The Tavern at Jack’s Neck offers steamed oysters and shrimp, Linz Heritage Angus beef ribeyes and filet mignon, as well as pizza with homemade dough, and of course, the town’s most popular tavern. For fresh fish, shrimp, cornbread, and good old Southern hospitality you might want to try Fish Hook’s Cafe, which is another restaurant popular with the locals. And if you just want a fast food breakfast, lunch, or dinner takeout or outdoor seating, Farm Boys, across from Belhaven Marina, is very popular with locals.
While in Belhaven, be sure and stroll around its charming downtown, or if your bikes cruise with you, cycle downtown and the Pantego Creek and Pungo River waterfront neighborhoods. And it’s hard to visit Belhaven without dropping into downtown shops like Attic Life, Coastal Cottage Life, Handpicked Sister, Nifty Picks, and Southern Tuck — and yes it’s spelled correctly and they don’t sell auto parts!
Big boat, small boat, fast boat, slow boat, Belhaven, NC the final link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway welcomes them all when they proclaim The Boats Stop Here.
And in the summer of 2023, there’s a good chance “Slow Dance” will once again be stopping by Belhaven AND checking out a couple of other historic Beaufort County towns, Bath, the first town established in North Carolina and the state’s first port, and Washington, also known as Little Washington and The Original Washington. Give us a shout on channel 16 if you see “Slow Dance” out on the water.
“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” Henry David Thoreau
Oh Captain My Captain
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