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Outer Banks Area Features

The Crystal Dawn

  By: Leah Lancione

Each time the Crystal Dawn departs the dock at Pirate’s Cove Marina on the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway, the prospects for adventure are infinite. Each trip into the inlet or sound offers visitors the chance to encounter something extraordinary—native waterfowl, dolphins, migratory birds, historic landmarks and more. And though the 65-foot head boat is renowned for its sunset cruises in the Roanoke Sound, it is also celebrated for its half-day fishing excursions.

“Being on the water aboard the Crystal Dawn is the ultimate way to behold the Outer Banks,” says Vanessa Foreman, who runs the operation along with her son Charles and daughter-in-law Meredith. Charles has taken over as captain of their off-shore charter boat Country Girl, carrying on his father’s legacy. Allan “Big Al” Foreman established the Crystal Dawn Corporation in 1977, with Vanessa joining him at the helm in 1984. “This has been my life for 34 years. I grew up on the Outer Banks and raised my family here, so it’s in my blood,” says Vanessa. Hands-on from the beginning, Vanessa has always taken great pride in personally selecting all the captains and mates. “I make sure our crew members are real fishermen who live and breathe the Outer Banks like we do.”

Crystal Dawn’s knowledgeable crew means that passengers aboard the wide double-decker head boat (the only one of its kind in the OBX) are in for an exciting as well as educational experience. The captain and well-trained mates are apt to point out sites like Bodie Island Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge, the Elizabeth II, Duck Island, and the abundance of native and migratory birds and waterfowl. Vanessa says the Purple Martin birding tours on the Crystal Dawn are also popular with locals and visitors to the Outer Banks.

Since the Roanoke Sound and Oregon Inlet are premium spots for fishing, the ship’s mates will assist novice or skilled anglers, of all ages, in their pursuit of catching trout, sea mullet, spot, bluefish, croaker, flounder, sea bass, and more. “We award $500 to whoever catches the biggest flounder of the season!” says Vanessa. Though the Crystal Dawn can accommodate 97 passengers for excursions and cruises, the limit is set at 50 for the half-day fishing trips so there’s plenty of elbow room for anglers to safely and comfortably drop their lines!

Vanessa reveals that the Crystal Dawn has a blanket fishing license, which means individuals don’t need to obtain their own license. Also, any gear an angler would need is provided as well—up-to-date tackle, bait, rod, reel, and fish bags. She also affirms that the head boat is outfitted with ship-to-shore and CB radios, fathomers and a fish finder. “Not only are we family friendly, but we make it easy and economical for people on vacation.”

Landlubbers on the open water for the first time need not worry—the Crystal Dawn is a U.S. Coast Guard inspected vessel. And thanks to its size and sturdiness, Vanessa mentions that there’s little chance someone will get seasick. Powered by twin 6-T1 diesels, it is “stable and steady!" she says. Passengers can relax, soak up the sunshine, and take in the breathtaking views as they cruise the Outer Banks.

The Crystal Dawn runs June through August (in-season), and in May, September and October (off-season). Folks can buy tickets for a half-day fishing trip, sunset cruise, or a Purple Martin Excursion, or even book in advance for a private group outing. Vanessa says group rates are available as are discounts for senior citizens and veterans.

For avid fishermen or those with a thrill-seeking spirit, the 57-foot Country Girl offshore charter boat sets out into the Gulf Stream for full-day, big-game or ocean wreck fishing. This fast and spacious Carolina-style vessel is the only charter boat in the Oregon Inlet fleet built and licensed to accommodate 27 anglers per trip.

The Crystal Dawn also offers a Wanchese Harbor Cruise, Manteo Dinner Tours, and adult-only cruises! Call 252-473-5577 to buy tickets in advance, or conveniently book online at: http://crystaldawnheadboat.com for a voyage on the Outer Banks you’ll never forget!

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