The next North Carolina Challenge is
Friday, October 16, 2015. There are two
concurrent events, the roughly 300 mile Pamlico Challenge (NCPC) and the roughly
90 mile Challenge (NCC). Both events finish at the same time, but they start at
different times. Be sure you check the schedule for the correct event! There is a mandatory
equipment inspection and captains meeting the day before on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Refer to the schedule
for time/date specifics.
NCC cost is $195.00
for the captain and $195.00 for
a crew member if any.
Saturday, August 01, 2015.
Monday, August 31, 2015
Payment deadline is
Monday, August 31, 2015
Due to the exteme commitment for this challenge late registration and/or late payments
will not be allowed. We recommend that you commit to this race early so you have
plenty of time for planning, training, and preparation. Pay early in the payment
cycle. You can get a full refund up until
Monday, August 31, 2015
at noon. No refunds after that date and time.
All WaterTribe events are dangerous events as defined by law and common sense. You
are responsible for your own safety. You must read and understand
Rules and Warnings
before you register for this event. Although the warnings read
specific to Florida, they all apply to the NC environment and must be read and understood
for this event.
The NCC distance is roughly 100 miles depending on your course selection. This challenge
is a circular race in a counter-clockwise direction with start and finish at the
same location on Cedar Island. You must checkin at Beaufort. There is an overall
maximum time limit of approximately 2 days.
Note: The table includes waypoints for both the North Carolina Challenge (NCC) and
the North Carolina Pamlico Challenge (NCPC).
The only route requirements are that the race be run counter-clockwise, through
the Harlow Canal, with a stop at the checkpoint on Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort. All
other navigational decisions are up to each challenger. The course will have participants
experiencing parts of North Carolina’s Neuse River, Newport River, Taylor’s Creek,
Back Sound, Core Sound, Pamlico Sound and many of the Bays in “down eastern” North
The NCC and NCPC are run as an unsupported, expedition-style adventure races for
kayaks, canoes and small boats. Your safety and well being are completely up to
you. You should be an expert kayaker and/or sailor before you
consider this challenge. Although this event is not an open ocean race, the
location is coastal, subject to the same weather patterns and conditions one finds
beyond the narrow barrier islands and impacting the shallow sounds.
Unsupported means that there are no safety boats or support crews to help you during
the race. You are not allowed to have a support crew follow you or meet you during
the race. It is okay to have family or friends meet you at the official checkpoint,
but they cannot provide anything other than emotional support. See the official
WaterTribe Rules for more details.
Expedition-style means that you should carry the same type of equipment and supplies
that you would carry on a major expedition. Camping equipment, food, water, safety,
communication means, etc. is required. Please read the WaterTribe Challenge Equipment
List (in the Rules PDF), which details required equipment for a Challenge. Please choose your equipment needs carefully. Everyone must also carry all safety
equipment as specified by the Coast Guard, local regulations and common sense.
In addition, all boats in this challenge are also required to carry a SPOT device
with or without the tracking feature. Please read the instructions for Spot Setup and Usage
for WaterTribe events.
Although this is a race, many participants are more interested in cruising and adventure.
Whether you are a cruiser or racer is up to you; time allows for both. Just getting
to the starting line is a major accomplishment, and many starters will not finish.
2009 NCC finishers made up only 53% of the starters.
A banquet lunch and award ceremony will take place Sunday afternoon
at the Driftwood’s Pirate Chest Restaurant.
Camping at Driftwood Campground at Cedar Island (no reservations: first come, first
served), or reserve a room at The Driftwood Motel:
This event is planned to be family and friends friendly. We will have many suggestions
of activities for your guests during the Challenges. Friends and family are invited
to the banquet (for a small lunch fee); please indicate any additional numbers on
your registration form.
TOPSPOT Chart N 239 Pamlico Sound to Morehead City Inshore.
Weather and sea conditions including current and historical data can be found at
Registration, Waivers, Float Plans -
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Is Mandatory .
Gear Inspection -
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Is Mandatory .
NCC Race -
Friday, October 16, 2015 to
Sunday, October 18, 2015.
Newcomers Meeting - Is Mandatory for anyone who has not completed a
WaterTribe Challenge OR
anyone who is renting a SPOT. Bring your SPOT with
new lithium batteries installed.
Both the NC Challenge (NCC) and NC Ultra Marathon (NCUM) start on the beach at Cedar
Island to the east of the ferry dockage WP1 on the grounds of the Driftwood Campground
and Motel. Boats should be assembled, packed, and left on the beach above the high
water mark Thursday night. A guard will be posted. There will be plenty of parking
at the campground to leave cars and trailers during the challenges. NCUM challengers
may want to leave their cars and trailers parked at the public boat ramp on Taylor
Creek in Beaufort.
Please Note: Although these events start and finish at the same location,
the start dates are different. The finish dates are the same.
Thursday night there will be a captain and crew meeting which is mandatory. Your
boat may be inspected for final class determination. If you can't make it to the
normal equipment inspection on Thursday, you should arrange another time. Dawn.SandyBottom@gmail.com
to make special arrangements in advance.
The beach start and finish to the right of the Public Wildlife boat ramp is tidal,
and shallow (see photo above). Larger boats can launch at the boat ramp into a small
jettied inlet before heading out to the right and landing on the start beach just
around a breakwater point. Kayaks and canoes can be easily hand carried to the beach
from the temporary parking area at the boat ramp. Boats may be left above the high
tide line on Thursday night for the Friday morning start.
NOTE: If you arrive late, you may still participate. Race officials will be at the
starting line for at least one hour after the official start. As long as you complete
gear inspection and check in with a race official before you launch you can still
enter. Your time however, will not be adjusted for a late start.
The route starts following the coast around Cedar Island in Pamlico Sound, to the
North and West into the Neuse River. Piney Island is a military training facility
and target range (though bombing simulations are now recorded and scored electronically
via computers to lessen the environmental impact). There are restricted areas marked
on the chart on both the outside and inside of Piney Island.
Cedar Island is also home to the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, providing
habitat and protection for endangered species such as American alligators and brown
pelicans, and provides habitat and protection for migratory waterfowl and other
waterbirds. Though not marked on the charts, these areas are well marked with signs
prohibiting landings and camping.
The Neuse River, named in 1584 for the Neusiok Indians, flows about 275 miles and
lies entirely inside the state of North Carolina emptying in Pamlico Sound at Cedar
Island and into the Atlantic Ocean. On the NCC route, the Neuse is a wide river
(~5 miles) with miles of sandy beaches and with little noticeable tidal effect,
though its large fetch is much affected by winds. A strong easterly or northerly
wind will raise the level, while a sustained westerly breeze, say 25 knots, can
lower this level by as much as 2 feet.
Historically, the river's ties to human history are long. Many artifacts traced
to ancient Native American settlement have been found along its banks. And in 1865,
one of the first ironclad warships built by the Confederate Navy, the "Ram Neuse",
was burnt and sunk to the river bottom by occupying Union Soldiers. Later discovered
during historically low water, and raised in 1963, the hull remains reside beside
the river at a Memorial in Kinston.
The Harlowe canal, the required route on the NCC is entered thru Clubfoot Creek
WP2 off the Neuse River, and is the old original Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), located
west of the current ICW, connecting the Neuse River with the Morehead City and Beaufort
waterfronts. Known locally as the Slave Canal because it was deepened to five or
six feet by slave labor, the Harlowe is one of the oldest canals in the United Sates,
originally created untold centuries ago by Indians who dragged their canoes across
the lowlands to the Neuse.
The canal is narrow but deep enough (but take care with the shallow twists and turns
entering and exiting the canal), with three bridges that will require the sailboats
to step their masts. Beautiful and tree-lined, the Western side of the canal is
part of the Croatan National Forest. There is some tidal influence on the southern
side and from wind effects on the Neuse.
Roughly 50 miles from the start you will need to check-in at WP3 which is located
on Taylor Creek in the center of the historic Beaufort waterfront. This checkpoint
is both the mid-way point for the NCC and the FINISH for the NCUM.
Upon leaving the Harlow Canal into the Newport River towards Beaufort, you will
be entering an area of very busy boat traffic and possibly strong tidal currents.
Morehead City and Beaufort are sound side seaports situated on opposite banks of
the Newport River. Both are very busy commercial, recreational and fishing ports.
Beaufort, pronounced ''Bo-furt'' by locals, is the third oldest town in the state
with a rich maritime history. This quaint town was originally established in 1709
for its close proximity to the excellent deep-water inlet now called Beaufort Inlet.
Throughout history, Beaufort has always been an important seaport for whalers, fisherman,
merchants and even pirates. In fact, the notorious pirate Blackbeard and his crew
spent quite a bit of time in Beaufort, and their legacy still remains in the form
of the many legends and ghost stories that are still told.
In 1997, Beaufort was highlighted in national and international news as the wreckage
of what is presumed to be Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered
in 20 feet of water, two miles from Beaufort Inlet. Artifact recovery operations
were immediately able to identify—and in some cases retrieve—many pieces, including
the ship's bronze bell, cannons and deck guns. Some of these artifacts are already
touring the country or are on exhibit in Beaufort at the NC Maritime Museum.
You’ll need to go under a car bridge exiting the Newport River and entering Beaufort.
The NCC checkpoint (just a few hundred yards down the street from the NC Maritime
Museum) is located on the historic waterfront of Beaufort’s Taylors Creek at Paul
Graden Park, WP3. The park contains a small public canoe and kayak beach landing
and a small public dock for the larger boats. Sailboats coming into the dock must
come in on the starboard side as entering. There are no public facilities at the
park, however there are water spigots and hoses all around the nearby docks (walk
to your left up Front St), and a public restroom a few hundred yards left up Front
St (at the end of the marina), not to mention some nice (yet expensive) seafood
restaurants and tourist shops, if you’ve got the time :)
An ORANGE LOCKBOX will be located in the gazebo. In the ORANGE LOCKBOX
you will find a logbook for each challenge. You must sign the logbook and fill out
each section adjacent to your name in the.
Once checked in, kayaks and canoes can be packed up at the beach landing. Sailboats
will need to continue up Taylor Creek another 1.8 miles to the public boat ramps on the
left at waypoint N34 42.575 W76 37.928. For those NCUM finishers who have not arranged for family
or friends to meet you at the finish, the race manager will try and provide shuttling
back to the Driftwood.
The awards ceremony and banquet will be held on Sunday at noon, shared with the
NCC finishers—more details will be provided at the Captains meeting. Every finisher
is a winner in the Tribe, and the banquet will celebrate this, with a great gathering
of challengers’ stories.
You have now past the half way mark. Racers will likely continue non-stop. If you
are a cruiser, and have not already camped, there is no camping permitted at the
checkpoint location, or across the Creek within the Rachael Carson preserve.
Opposite the checkpoint across from Taylor’s Creek, the string of small islands
(pictured below)—Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal and Horse Island—more than
three miles long and less than a mile wide—include the Rachel Carson Reserve, part
of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve. Accessible
by boat only, visitors are allowed and there are even walking trails. But, NO CAMPING
is allowed and this is strictly enforced. As you pass by these islands, you are
likely to see the small herd of feral horses which roam the island, and many of
the 200 bird species which have been recorded there.
Leaving Taylor’s Creek you’ll enter Back Sound toward Harkers Island. Harkers was
occupied originally by Native Americans of the Coree tribe when the first European
explorers arrived in the sixteenth century. The nearby Core Sound and Core Banks
are named after the Coree. The island was eventually owned by Ebenezer Harker, who
built a plantation and boat yard. It remained relatively uninhabited, until a large
immigration of Outer Banks islanders fleeing major hurricanes in 1896 and again
in 1899 dramatically increased the island population, which was largely dependent
on fishing and boat building.
Over the years, economic changes in the general area and then the creation of the
National Seashore in 1966 marked the end of a lifestyle practiced by many Harkers
Island residents. Fishing and boat building remain important components of the community's
economy, but is now more and more augmented with tourism.
Off your route to the South, you should get a nice view of Cape Lookout Lighthouse
(below), painted with distinctive large checkers that appear as alternating black
and white diamonds. Following the traditional day-mark aids to navigation, the black
checkers are orientated north and south toward the shallow waters of the shoals
and around the headlands, while the white checkers are orientated east and west
facing the deeper waters of Raleigh’s Bay to the east and Onslow Bay to the west.
It is up to race participants to choose their route to Core Sound; this might allow
some race strategy depending on wind directions and/or weather conditions. Back
Sound on the north or inside of Harkers is a wide but shallow sound; the larger
sailboats will need to take care of the shoals and shallows where Back Sound meets
Core Sound. Paralleling Back Sound north of Harkers Island and Middle Marshes, the
Straits offers a deep yet narrow passage between the western end of Back Sound to
Once you are east of Harkers, you will be in Core Sound, and with about 30 miles
to the finish. Core Sound is a large (2-3 miles wide), long, and shallow body of
water running north easterly on your route. Core Sound is tidal, as are all the
waterways on this route after leaving the Neuse River. The sound is nearly filled
with shoal banks, but with a deep channel (7-9ft) winding continuously. With its
long fetch and shallow waters, the Sound really kicks up in high winds. There are
many bays along the route that will afford protection if needed.
If you go off channel, beware of the stakes set for the pound nets throughout the
Sound. These nets used in summer and fall (but the poles remain in situ year round)
are used primarily for catching flounder. The nets are strung from a maze of poles
that can be a navigational hazard for boaters who aren’t aware of them. The poles
are not marked with any reflectors and may be difficult to see at night.
Core Sound is a region rich in folk life. Its traditions of boat-building, decoy-carving
and working on the water make it one of the most distinctive cultural enclaves in
North Carolina. Almost a trip through time, the area encompasses vast plains of
coastal marsh, punctuated by small fishing villages along the inland side of Core
Across the Sound to starboard are sandy banks of marsh and the occasional spots
of remaining maritime forest. This is the Cape Lookout National Seashore, now a
federally maintained nature preserve and popular recreational area of uninhabited
beaches made up of narrow barrier islands. But at one time, these islands were the
site of maritime towns that were for centuries vital pulse points in the history
and economy of North Carolina.
As you get to Cedar Island, you again have to decide on your route to the finish
beach at WP1. Cutting though Cedar Island Bay will certainly be the shortest route,
but possibly a challenge getting through to Pamlico Sound and to the beach. Once
you’re into the Bay, there are no marked navigable routes through the many small
islands surrounding the Bay, and the water is shallow with oyster banks. Alternatively
one can choose to go around and follow the marked channels; that route will add
some distance. Decisions may be based on weather and time, and the nature of your
craft. Make sure to give yourself enough time to figure out your way through to
An ORANGE LOCKBOX will be located between the beach and the boat ramp. In the ORANGE
LOCKBOX is the logbook for the NCC; you must sign the logbook with your finish time
in the section adjacent to your name.
The awards ceremony and banquet will be held on Sunday — more details will
be provided at the Captains meeting. Every finisher is a winner in the Tribe, and
the banquet will celebrate this, with a great gathering of challengers’ stories.
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