The Seascape Sailboat Moored at the Manteo, NC Marina
Outer Banks transplants, Katherine and Dan Bottjen, love being on the water. Even during a cold and rainy spring, when we joined them for a sunset sail on their ketch, the Seascape (Oriental, NC), they'd already taken her out thirty times. Their neighbors were just getting started.
She's a two-mast sailboat, white with navy blue sail canvas covers, moored at the marina in Manteo, NC. We found them with Katherine's great directions past the parking lot at the bottom of Budleigh Street.
We arrived a bit early so had time to enjoy the marina a few minutes before they were ready to welcome us aboard. There's an art installation a half block away, Swiss cheese looking cement creating an architectural block and a military veteran memorial across the street.
There are several restaurants nearby and they encourage you to bring the food and drink you'll want on the sail. The Outer Banks Distillery, Kill Devil Rum, is at the top of Budleigh coming off the main road so stop there for some pecan, silver, or gold rum. The edamame hummus platter was a group favorite at the Avenue Grille & Goods. Ice cream, fudge, and candy are the stars at Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream. There's also a nice sit-down restaurant at the marina and an English pub (Bubble & Squeak, anyone?) just across the street.
Seascape Sails, OBX, NC
Welcomed aboard, Katherine gave us a tour of their two-bedroom sailboat. There's a small bedroom in the bow and half bath, along with a spacious (for a boat) living room, galley with sink, hob, oven, refrigerator, and all the navigation and engineering equipment you need. The master stateroom in the stern is perfect for two with a full bath. On a boat, you maximize every inch, just like in any tiny home. There was a place for everything and everything in its place.
Back above decks, they released the lines and we motored through the narrow channel (sometimes just 2.6 feet above the bottom of the sound) until we were in a position to raise the three sails and turn the engines off. The silence is immediate and wonderful.
The Seascape's Captain's Wheel
The rest of the group moved to the bow of the boat to chat with Katherine about life in the Outer Banks. I stayed with Dan and enjoyed learning how to steer the ship. The wind picked up and we had fun with Robbie, "If there are two boats on the water, it's a race," one of their neighbors and friends. We always maintained a safe distance between the boats, though Dan would occasionally have to take over to confirm we weren't on a collision course.
When the wind shifted, it was time for those near the sail to lower their heads to avoid being struck by the boom. Safely done, they rejoined us for the others to have a chance to sail. I enjoyed some peace on the stern and then moved to the bow with one of the other travel writers to enjoy the view.
As the others practised their driving, we were warned to expect the boom to move. We got low … and then couldn't move at all for many minutes as they maintained a heel to gather speed.
Pro Tip: If you're heeling so severely that you're falling into each other while steering, the people on the bow are pinned in position and will be uncomfortable if not hurt.
Making Memories in the Outer Banks
As soon as it was possible for me to move, I returned to the seats around the wheel and enjoyed what we could of the sunset portion of the sail. The moon was nearly full and the breeze quite pleasant. The clouds take on new formations as we motor through the channel, enjoying the blue hour from the water.
Seascape View from the stern, OBX
The two-hour sail goes quickly.
Moored back at the marina, they invited us to tour their houseboat, The Starry Banner, available on VRBO
for less than the price of most local hotels. Advertised for two people, it, too, is a two-bedroom, with a small bedroom in the bow, half bath, galley, truly spacious living room with television and Bluetooth stereo, with the master stateroom complete with ¾ bath and closet!
The Starry Banner, Manteo Marina, NC OBX
The calming colors and nautical accents make it a well-appointed and cheery space. There's even an ice maker in the living room! I could easily stay a week. They tell me their guests enjoy the outdoor space the most. There are two captain's chairs, a small dinghy, and space to sun yourself, all in a slip within view of the sailboat. I asked Dan if he's ever considered offering a discount on the sunset sail for the houseboat guests. He hadn't, both places are usually booked, but I think he'd be willing to discuss if you're lucky enough to book the houseboat.
They're wonderful people that will make your visit to the Outer Banks even more memorable if you're able to sail or stay on one of their boats.