By: James (J.E.) Darnell, Jr., Albemarle Plantation Marina Dockmaster
As you look at the eye-opening sunrise to the east or the tranquil sunset to the west, all must agree that the Albemarle Sound viewed from the Plantation offers many interpretations and memories that can be harvest-ed only by each individual who experiences these moments. I have been blessed to have lived and spent 50 years of my life on this waterway.
My family introduced me to the water at a young age. This included Bass Tourneys, racing sailboats, crabbing commercially and, eventually, offshore fishing on my own charter boat. First of all, I must thank my family for their support and encouragement to allow me to experience these opportunities so that I could pass them on to others.
As we gaze out over the Sound and absorb the beauty it radiates, knowledge of what economic impact this body of water has on communities and families may be of interest. Many farming industries depend on the Sound waters to irrigate their crops yearly, based on the amount of salt content in the Sound and Rivers. This can be influenced by the amount of rainfall and wind directions through the summer months. Too much salt content will kill crops, and water must be tested to determine if irrigation can come from the Sound or if it must come from local pumps.
Commercial fishing has been a mainstay for decades for families along the Albemarle Sound. Gill net-ting and crabbing are big businesses on the Sound. Starting from the east end of the Sound to the west end of the Sound, there are thousands of crab pots and nets spread out from the back side of Nags Head to the Chowan River Bridge. Blue crabs and flounder are abundant, right in front of the Plantation. The blue crab market prices are often set based on the Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico Sound harvests.
Transportation of steel on barges from Nucor Steel up from the Chowan River to the west end of the Albemarle Sound has exceeded all expectations. Tons of recyclable steel is transported on these waterways daily to be fabricated into building supplies.
World-renowned boat builders often test run their vessels on these waters to tune them to perfection. Companies such as Regulator Marine, Albemarle Boats, Layton Boatworks and many others call this their “testing grounds.”
The Intracoastal Waterway, commonly referred to as the ICW, runs through the center of the Albemarle Sound, north to south. This is a vital waterway for transients and a big boost for visiting boaters at the Plantation traveling north to south in the fall and returning south to north in the spring. The Albemarle Plantation Marina thrives on getting these transients to come to our Marina and experience all that the Sound and the Plantation have to offer. Thanks to the Albemarle Loop, we have seen a lot of visiting boaters through the last three years.
The Albemarle Loop provides boaters a chance to visit different local marinas. At this time, there are 10 marinas participating in the network. The “Loop” compliments mariners with two free nights at each location. This provides each visiting boater a chance to see what each stop has to offer and may entice them to want to harbor their vessel or possibly invest in the community.
I came aboard AP on March 1, 2017. Having played golf and having done service work here on the Plantation for many years, I got to know many residents and truly loved each time I traveled through the gate. Confident in the job I was hired for, the acceptance was the only concern. That concern was easily erased from the equation. I have never felt more welcome and proud to be a part of such a community. It is often said, “I love my job,” but I am here to tell everyone that I really love my job. At 50 years of age, I am very fortunate to have found this milestone in my life and career. The staff at the Marina want everyone to come see the sites on our waterfront. That staff which includes me and a good man named Richard Guy, of whom I cannot speak highly enough, it seems that sometimes one can get overloaded with responsibilities, and situations present themselves all the time. When this happens at the Plantation, a few phone calls solve the problem. Never have I seen more people come together to help each other.
In closing, the staff at the Marina would like to remind all residents that this marina facility belongs to all who live on the Plantation, and we would love to see you witness the beauty of the Albemarle Sound and the mysteries it conceals. It tantalizes the imagination and keeps one wondering each day what the next view will produce. I personally want to invite residents and guests to come walk or ride the docks and meet me!