While cruising, you will encounter many wonderful and new places. Some places are gorgeous because they have a lot of natural beauty. Others are surrounded by nice people and pleasant towns. Everyone has their own picture of paradise, and that is what we all strive to find.
Shangrila is a mythical city that travelers find after a weary passage. The towns people are welcoming and inviting and everything there is in perfect harmony. You are welcomed to stay as long as you like, but if you leave, you may never find it again!
I feel that Oriental, NC is our Shangrila. We arrived here after a gale off Hatteras and a long, blustery ride down the Pamlico Sound. We anchored in the harbor at 4am, and spend the first few days sleeping and recovering on the boat before we went to shore.
When we made landfall at the free and well maintained dinghy dock, we were instantly greeted by many kind and caring people. The restaurants were inexpensive and delicious, and everyone seems to know everyone else. This makes it easy for them to spot the cruisers, as we are the "new faces" in town.
Every morning, we would go ashore and get a giant serving of ice cream for $2.79!
We would then strol around town and inevitably be invited to some event that was happening and this would consume our day. After dark, we would return to the boat and go to sleep, only to repeat the process tomorrow. Each day is filled with a magical unknown quality that we know will lead to a fun and interesting day surrounded by kind and caring people.
To make it even more attractive, the harbor is filled with a very soft mud that the anchor sinks into with ease, and the entire harbor is completely protected from wind and waves! Even better, there is no lunar tide! I know that sounds odd, but there is actually no tidal change throughout the day. The tide here is controlled by the wind, if it blows from the North, the harbor fills a bit, if it blows from the South, the harbor drains a bit. The difference from full to drained is only about 1 foot, so you really don't need to worry about your boat shifting direction and dragging anchor while you are away.
We have been in Oriental for 3 weeks now and the locals have been trying to set us up with work and a home. They have pointed us in the direction of a few nice homes that are for sale and told me that the local dentist might be looking to retire soon and sell her practice to me. All of these offers are very tempting as we could spend the rest of our lives here anchored in the harbor with a steady source of income and a town full of happy and caring people.
But as the story goes, the traveler yearns for the unknown distant horizon and will set out to find someplace new! In the fable, the traveler then returns to where he thought Shangrila was located but can't find it, as it is lost to him forever.
We, on the other hand have the coordinates to this place, and plan on returning to this wonderful place when we sail up the East Coast of the United States in the future. Until then, we will escape from this sanctuary and head off into the distance!
Our next stop will not be anything like this place though, which will give us motivation to continue on towards warmer waters! When we leave here, we will travel 20 miles south towards Beaufort, NC, and then 65 miles down to Masonboro, where our anchorage will have a 7 foot tidal variance and a strong current to boot! Paradise will be a sweet memory as we wonder why we left and wander the globe by sail.