Sailing The Belle of Topsail

The Belle of Topsail is an 1880’s replica of a turn of the century riverboat owned and operated by Captain/Chaplain David and Sharon Luther and about seven years ago, we took our first sail on The Belle. Oh but soon after that first sail, The Luther’s added an even more exciting twist to this lovely experience of sailing the intracoastal waterways in Surf City, passing right by the historical swing bridge, enjoying cool breezes, sunny days, breathtaking sunsets and if you’re lucky the river dolphins will be in action for a show in their natural habitat and then The Raven was born! Now, I don’t mean the bird, no Edgar Allen Poe here either, I’m talking about daring, dusty, thieving, murdering, fast talking and comical PIRATES on a Pirate ship called The Raven!!

The Belle has a full bar, the dinner cruise offered a self serve style meal option with an amazing Taco Bar and a good ol’ Sunday dinner feast option with pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, yeast rolls, beans and other helpings to include cheeses and a beautiful selection of fresh fruits to compliment any meal. There were also platters at the bar with a variety of nuts, pretzels and jumbo cocktail shrimp complimentary to everyone.

We moved away and returned to this area late last year and haven’t been on a date since and we really needed that fun time out alone, without kids, just to breathe, to talk and just be “adulting” because for Christs Sakes, no married couple or parents can say “Oh I Never Need BREAKS” unless they’re a bald faced liar. Anyway, moving on. I had been trying to get reservation for the cruises at Sunset for a few weeks but with life and schedule changes, we missed the opportunity because cruises sell out super fast! So make a note of that, “Book today, they’ll sail away”. We were actually passed the reservation limit but lovely Sharon keeps contact with those on the waiting list and will call or email if there is a cancellation that can serve your parties amount. There was just us two and there were three spots that opened up. Can you say, “Happy Sun-YAY!” for us!?? I was so excited like I had never been on this boat before and I will tell you why. See, some experiences are so scripted and uptight around some tourist towns, there’s no personality, no feeling like you are a part of it, like you’re just another dollar and viewer but this is certainly not the case with The Belle! From the Capt’ns Speech on locating your life jackets in case the boat were to sink in the 4ft or so of water we cruise in, informing passengers the bar will remain open upon event of sinking to the waterway’s floor to the very moment those pesky, scoundrel PIRATES take hostage The Belle… EVERY passenger will feel welcome, like you are on a family outing with family you’ve never met or haven’t seen in a long time and made feel at home aboard The Belle. You are guaranteed an original experience every trip that you will enjoy, I can honestly say, it gets better every year! (The ship has never sank by the way and no passenger has been injured or gone overboard.)

I was recently diagnosed with a rare brain condition called Chiari Malformation though the symptoms have been disturbing me quite a while. I really needed a breather, I needed to see the waterway for some salt life, I needed those laughs with and at David over the loud speaker and from the ships floor, I needed those hugs and warm welcome back from Sharon upon boarding, I needed those crazy pirates to come aboard and demand the loot aka “booty”, I needed the laughs of talking trash to the pirates by fellow passengers taken hostage and once they left back to their ship cruising alongside us with passengers I had never met from different races, genders, styles etc but joy and laughter sees no diversity especially on The Belle! They operate a business that is for everyone, young and old, abled or disabled, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, “no sailor left behind I bloody tell ya!!” This is truly an experience you will enjoy and remember every detail for years to come and if you have any ailment or conquering one, trust me this will give you a relief from the woes of life if even just at that time! I felt rejuvenated after sailing The Belle with my husband, just gazing into that gorgeous sunset, laughing with and at pesky pirates, enjoying a few margarita’s and making new friends. Yes, making new friends! If you are new to this area, maybe returning back to this area and nobody you know is still here, the friend connection is The Belle, I have made new friends every single time we have sailed The Belle! There’s just a personable, class act, Sweet Carolina touch to this experience that I cannot quite put into words that give it due justice, I do hope that my blog’s fan page live video on FB can show you just a window into this experience as well as the gorgeous sunset photo’s I will include below. But here’s a peak at the sunset beginning!

We love The Belle so much we originally planned our wedding on the boat but because we are in hurricane alley, Mother Nature insisted a cancellation because all boats were advised out of the water. You can plan birthday parties, anniversaries, business parties and meetings, weddings, vow renewals and other events all on the Belle with food, fun, music and the Captain is also an ordained minister so no worries of who can officiate your ceremony or maybe you just need someone to pray that you don’t knock that one coworker overboard! Seriously, I would certainly recommend this boat for any of the aforementioned functions, a date, when family is in town, a girls night out, night out with the guys, retirement party, going away… you name it!! I mean seriously, What kid (or kid at heart) wouldn’t go totally nuts over being a real pirate for a day celebrating their birthday?? I can’t think of many that would complain.
As we left the dock: Take off live recording
Check out this video of the Raven Pirate takeover for yourself with adults: LIVE FROM THE BELLE PT 2

Photographed by Melissa Oakley

 

****Disclaimer: This blog post is solely based on my experience(s) as a passenger aboard The Belle of Topsail. I am not employed by this business and am an independent blogger/marketing promoter.

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