A review of our stop in Columbia, NC on the Albemarle Loop (written for the Women Who Sail forum):
We hopped from the Albemarle Plantation over the Columbia, NC. This was a short hop across the Sound and with favoring winds, we were able to sail most of it. We dropped the sails to enter the narrow mouth of the river but regretted it. We could have sailed easily a little farther down river. We called ahead to let them know we were coming, and they said "You can't miss the new docks." According to Active Captain, the beige building was our landmark and that was correct. They've installed several new slips with free water and shore power. However, as a catamaran with an 18 ft beam, we chose to tie up to the remaining bulkhead (nearest the bridge). There is no dock master here, but you can stop into the municipal office and check in. When you step off, you are at the end of Main Street and we were immediately directed to Sandy's for lunch (free wifi, just ask for the password. The town internet was spotty without our range extender, so I walked down to Sandy's a few evenings to update my Kindle and iPad). There is also a hardware store, auto parts store, post office and several restaurants in town. The Food Lion was an easy 0.8 up the road (Family General & Dollar Store are next door). We had dinner at the Oyster Bar (open Thurs-Sun) and enjoyed a wine tasting and coffee at the winery (also free wifi, just ask for the password. Nice upstairs to hang out). Past the Visitor's Center, there's a boardwalk along the river.
We thought we had the place to ourselves until a pontoon boat (that gives rides on Friday) and 4 more boats showed up (Cypress Marina Cruising Reunion). This was a nice stop. We stayed the 3-day maximum. We were very sheltered from winds. There are showers and bathrooms at the dock. (We also saw/heard rumors of mooring balls. After a dinghy reconnaissance, one was on a tree and one was washing up on the boardwalk on the other side of the bridge. I would assume the other two aren't being maintained. I asked over the phone, and they didn't have any info. We also wouldn't anchor in the river without some more local knowledge. We saw a lot of logs just off the center of the channel). Highly recommend.