Still sampling the delights of River Dunes Marina, Oriental

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Tue 23 Nov 2010 19:17
We are now into our third week at River Dunes. We now have clearance from our insurers to continue southwards at last although if we are clobbered by a 'named storm' (now very unlikely) we carry the full risk, which makes us wonder why we have to secure their approval in the first place. Still it's the done thing so we do it.
Many of the boats that were here on our arrival have long gone. Most stay just to stock up or wait until the wind direction is more conducive although the weather has been fantastic for the time of year with generally sunny days and chilly nights. Much better than autumn 2009! However we are still not quite free to move on just yet as we have one outstanding item of post still to arrive. We must be wearing out the welcome mat at the post office in Oriental where just one man is employed to stand behind the counter. To ensure he can multitask he has a curly phone cord stretching at least 12 feet across the office to the furthest of the two counters!
Whilst here we have taken the opportunity to re-stock the boat courtesy of one of the two loan cars available to visitors. We are allocated either a 7 seater people carrier (Americans call them vans for some reason) or a GMC Yukon with similar dimensions to a Challenger battle tank. Getting in and out of the thing requires some practice and with a very silent V6 engine you can virtually hear gallons of petrol coursing through the fuel lines to meet the demands of a heavy right foot. Regardless, it's great to have transport available, although trips are restricted to two hours duration.
There's little excitement to report. The supermarket visit to the Food Lion 10 miles away incurred a $400 spend with two full trolleys although they kindly let us off the gallon container of fruit juice the 'Admiral' dropped in Aisle 6, which instantly became a skid pan for any unwary customers. A charming store worker sporting as part of his uniform a colourful bow tie obligingly turned up with a mop and bucket to avoid Food Lion incurring any litigious activity by opportunistic customers.
Another popular visit on our shopping trips into Oriental has been the Marine Consignment Store which is a yachtie's paradise. In this 'Aladdin's Cave' unwanted boat items are offered for sale with commission being charged by the proprietors as items are sold. It's a great place to haggle and barter. We managed to pick up an almost new engine alternator (the box of tricks that charges the batteries which is driven by a v belt). We bought this for a fraction of the cost new which made our stay in the area worthwhile for this one item alone.
The boat is receiving some TLC whilst here and one item from our sailing arsenal which rarely makes an appearance (in fact last used on the Atlantic crossing) was hauled out of it's locker for drying out and inspection. Our cruising chute called 'Mr Flappy' - but ungraciously nicknamed 'That Thing' by the 'Admiral' enjoys a cherished existence in the foredeck locker, it's use often contemplated but rarely employed.  Just walking forward to extract it from the locker is guaranteed to increase the 'Admiral's' blood pressure and the wind strength by the same amount. So with a day of forecast light zephyrs and the boat tied securely to the dock the chute was hoisted aloft and unveiled in all it's glory only for it to flutter gracefully back down into the water with a completely corroded wire head strop, leaving the deployment snuffer still attached to the spinnaker halyard at the mast head. Well, better to find out on the dock than out at sea and the visit to the sail loft produced a replacement strop assembly at a sensible price. 
Over the three weeks we have seen the changing colours of autumn amongst the trees that surround the marina. It's a beautiful time of year made all the more special by bright sunny days with temperatures tipping 70 F. However with the nights turning chilly it's usually on with the heaters around 1900 leaving them to run all night to keep the condensation at bay (and us warm of course). The man-made creek that the marina is situated in also attracts locals who come to fish for trout and last Saturday we watched some model yacht racing. This was extremely competitive with one of their number called Bob who was held responsible for at least two collisions during the racing as we heard - "Hey Bob - you just hit me! Ah, men and their toys! As for the fisherman they turn up in small boats with quiet electric trolling motors and it's not unusual to wake up at first light only to see three or four fishermen virtually hanging off our bows.
Here are some pics....
The clubhouse porch...                                                     The clubhouse library...                                        and staircase to the restaurant
Phil unlocking the 'tank'   for another shopping trip                                    Walking the nature trail - we were ambushed by mosquitoes
The safest way to hoist 'Mr Flappy' - tied to the dock                                 Model yachts in action with Ajaya as the backdrop
Four views of the River Dunes estate....................
Colour co-ordination taken to extremes  - one red 'Admiral'