We are always on the ultimate quest to see the best of Our Carolina Shore and on this occasion, we had the opportunity to visit a hidden little gem of a fishing town in Northeast North Carolina named Sneads Ferry. We’ve explored much of the coast between Wilmington and the Southern Outer Banks but a customer of ours suggested that there are likely some good photos to be had in the Sneads Ferry area. We had a sunny Sunday free a couple weeks ago so we decided to head up the coast for a short shrimp expedition.
A pleasant, less than 2 hour drive for us straight up Highway 17 (less than an hour from Wilmington) brought us to the shore of the New River and at that point it became very clear as to why this would be an ideal location for a fishing village. The breadth of the river coming in from the ocean made for safe travels into the very well protected harbors where 3 seafood dealers called home: BF Millis & Sons, Mitchell Seafood and Davis Seafood. We made our way down to Wheeler Creek, a perfectly situated, secluded and protected little harbor, which was shelter for nearly 2 dozen boats that afternoon.
One of the particularly noticable and interesting boats was the barge like vessel below with a fantastic conveyer belt system along one side of the boat. It was nothing more than a tine bucket that ran along the ocean floor scooping up clams up on to the belt where they were washed and pulled along the belt to the hold. For someone who’s used his back and rake scooping up 1 or 2 clams at a time for the last 50 years….this contraption was a beauty! Even more interesting to say the least, was the pleasure I had running into the captain of that boat and listening to the multitudes of stories from the past 40+ years he’s been fishing the waters of NC, not to mention his expeditions harvesting scallops 50 miles of the coast of Virginia. Putting a face and a voice to a story of a generations worth of family fishing was truly remarkable.
During my chat at Millis Seafood, I was made aware of another fishing family a bit farther up the river, Davis Seafood. It wasnt so much that it was just another seafood distributor, but it was also a boat building family! I was told that they were currently working on an 72′ steel hull boat! This I had to see so after wandering through the picturesque creek, we made our way along the river to Old Ferry Marina and Davis Seafood. The marina itself was filled with primarily pleasure boats nestled in a well protected lovely harbor across the New River from the Marine Corp training base, Camp Lejeune, where coincidentally, the noise of armaments filled the air along the river.
Adjacent to the marina was Davis Seafood, another fishing family from the 60’s. As we drove into the yard, it was impossible to ignore the behemouth of boat sitting up alongside the road. 72 feet of steel, shaped into a beauty of a hull and deck on display! Again, how lucky could I be but to meet one of the Davis men working on the boat. Building the boat!…right there by water’s edge. And why were they building it?….just because. Buddy and his sons are building it because they “can’t be still.” It’s already been nearly a 2 year process which occupies most of the off season months simply because, there’s nothing much to do around the place! When is it going to be completed? Eventually….maybe!…maybe not! “If it doesn’t get finished, it’s ok. We’re just tinkering.” Are you looking for work ethic? Here it is. Building a boat as a labor of love with no expectations. Building a boat and building pride! (Check out this heart warming story about the Millis’s and Davis’s)
You can get a glimpse into everything else you’ll see nestled in the creeks & harbors in Sneads Ferry from the photos below. There are more and they can be seen at the Sneads Ferry Gallery where you can not only share photos, but purchase either reprints or digital downloads directly from the gallery. If canvas prints are more to your liking, you can order them on our website on the Canvas Ordering page