By: Pat Winter
The history of any person or place is most often accompanied by lots of good stories if you take the time to dig around a little bit. Our marina is not any different, and here are three interesting accounts we thought would catch your interest.
- On November 29, 1991, The Daily Advance reported that Albemarle Plantation was officially in business. They reported, “Besides the clubhouse, a 237-slip marina is under construction, with the first 50 slips scheduled to open this fall.” But Buzz Savage, Marina Governor, reports that today the marina advertises just 166 slips. What happened to all the others?
During construction, the pilings installed by Waff Brothers were discovered to be too short because our marina location has a soft, silty bottom. This necessitated a change to the original marina plans.
Today, although the marina has 166 slips, the water level for a few slips is too shallow for larger boats to navigate safely. So, our marina today has fewer active slips than originally planned.
- In 1995 when the marina construction was almost finished, the marina itself was still unnamed. It needed a moniker that would help establish its identity and location for boaters on the Sound. Eddie Bateman, the first dockmaster, consulted with developer Pete Bosher about possible names. Eddie suggested the marina be named “Osprey Cove Marina” because of the many osprey native to this area. Although this name was considered, the name Albemarle Plantation Marina was settled upon and is the name still in use today.
- Dredging and accurate placement of navigational markers was absolutely necessary to the accessibility of our marina from the Sound. Why? The Sound is a surprisingly shallow body of water and at one time a small island was located at the mouth of the Yeopim River. In 1954 Cat 4 Hurricane Hazel demolished this island completely, leaving be-hind a shallow sandy area. This island takes the history of our marina location way back to the 17th century. First known as Heriot’s Island on area maps, by 1672 the small island is identified as Batts Island, and on a 1690 map is identified as Batts Grave.
Research tells us that Nathaniel Batts, a fur trader, explorer, and Indian interpreter, was North Carolina’s first permanent white settler. He worked for Francis Yeardley of today’s Virginia Beach who in 1653 sent Batts to explore the Albemarle Sound to identify fertile lands that Yeardley could use for development. In 1660 Batts, along with George Durant, negotiated the purchase of land from Kiscutanewh, the king of the Yeopim Indians. It included all the land in Pasquotank County southwest of the Pasquotank River reaching to the head of New Begin Creek. This land was acquired in exchange for the construction of an English-style house furnished with English goods for King Kiscutanewh. In payment for his services, Yeardley also built Nathaniel Batts a log cabin-style house on the south side of the mouth of Salmon Creek in today’s Merry Hill in Bertie County. It is believed that Batts lived there only during fur season when it became an active trading post with the natives in the area.
When not at his trading post, Batts could perhaps be found on the land holding for which he is best known, Batts Island, located at the mouth of the Yeopim River. There exists a legend connected with this area that tells about a trader named Jesse Batz who falls in love with a Chowanoke maiden named Kickowanna. Their story, “The Legend of Batz’s Grave,” is recorded in “Literature in the Albemarle” by Bettie Fresh-water Pool. Batts was reportedly buried on the island, explaining why the island was later renamed Batts Grave. This fact gives historians the opportunity to joke that Batts was buried at sea, but not at first!
In 1749 Batts Grave was 40 acres in size and sported several houses and orchards. But by 1756 erosion was taking its costly toll and had reduced the island to only 27 acres. Maps from 1919 show the island as only a speck found at the mouth of the Yeopim River, reportedly used as a campsite for fishermen, and described as a mudflat with a few dead trees. Hurricane Hazel took care of the rest.
Today we can thank dredging and channel markers which have made it possible for larger boats to safely leave the Sound and reach our marina, perhaps gliding silently over the remains of Nathaniel Batts on their way.
Next time you head out to the Albemarle Sound, see if you can imagine an island sitting at the mouth of the Yeopim River inhabited by a rugged fur trader accompanied by a lovely young Indian maiden.