Coastal Orienteering Weekend, 11/12 March

Filed under: Uncategorized by David Waller on February 17th, 2023

Registration for this event has closed

Expert orienteers (i.e., those who have successfully completed a brown, green, red, or blue course) are welcome to register for our annual coastal orienteering experience.  This year we will again be among the tall dunes and wild horses on Shackleford Banks.   Weather permitting, four events will be offered:  a Motalla-like event on Saturday morning; a night-O on Saturday evening; classic courses on Sunday morning; and a virtual street-O in Beaufort throughout the weekend.  After reading the descriptions of these events below, you can register here.  This is a small event, limited to 25 participants; so be sure to register soon. 



8AM (EST) – Sunday 8PM (EDT):  Virtual Street-O in Beaufort will be available

Saturday (all times EST)

10:00: First ferry leaves Beaufort to Shackleford (recommended for non-campers)

10:45 (appx.): First start on Saturday orienteering course

11:30:  Second ferry leaves Beaufort to Shackleford (good for campers or non-orienteering relatives)

3:00:  Last ferry leaves Shackleford to Beaufort (for non-campers)

3:00:  Saturday courses close

7:00:  Night-O courses open on Shackleford

9:30:  Night-O courses close

Sunday (all times EDT)

9:00:  Sunday courses open

10:00:  Ferry for non-campers leaves Beaufort to Shackleford

10:30, noon, 1:30:  Ferries leave Shackleford to Beaufort

1:00:  Sunday courses close

3:00:  Last ferry leaves Shackleford to Beafort

4:00ish  Informal gathering in a Beaufort restaurant for food and drink

General conditions:

There is no drinking water, electricity, or trash containers on the island, and there is virtually no shelter from the elements.  There is a primitive bathroom near the Saturday start; however, it may be closed for the season.  Please come prepared for these conditions.  The chart below presents approximate walking distances (in km) between the weekend’s main locations.  Note, as explained below, that the location of the camping area is not set in stone, and people are free to camp wherever they wish.

Ferry drop    
Saturday Start/Finish0.5   
Sunday Start/Finish1.00.4  
Night Start/Finish3.
Pointwise walking distances (km)

We will not be able to hold this event if the ferry suspends service because of inclement weather (typically high winds). If weather looks like it will affect the event, we will contact registrants via email with further information.  There are a few virtual courses in the area, and we may be able to arrange something at some of these to salvage the weekend. 

Ferry Service:

Unless you can arrange your own boat to/from Shackleford, you will need to travel to the event by the Island Express ferry.  The ferry will leave from 600 Front St. in downtown Beaufort (not Harkers Island) at 10:00 AM.  Campers may prefer to come on the 11:30 Saturday ferry.  We expect that there will be plentiful free street parking near the ferry terminal. 

In the past, we have offered to pre-purchase ferry tickets for participants.  However, this practice creates additional fees that just end up getting passed on to participants.  So instead, this year we are asking registrants to purchase their own ferry ticket(s).  If you forget to pre-purchase your tickets online, you hopefully can purchase them on the day of the event.  Information about the ferry service as well as a link to purchase tickets is here


If you are camping, bring everything you will want/need — don’t count on any park infrastructure.  Most of the ground is extremely sandy, and I imagine that carts or wagons would be a bad way to transport gear.  You will likely want to carry your supplies/gear on your back.

Some information about primitive camping on Shackleford is here

You may camp anywhere you like on the island, alone or with a group.  If the weather permits, I will plan on setting up my tent on the ocean side of the island, about 300m south of the Sunday start/finish.  If it’s very windy, I may seek refuge further inland.  Note that high tide is at 10:05 AM and 10:36 PM on Saturday; Low tide is at 4:00 AM and 4:00 PM on Saturday; High tide is at 11:47 AM on Sunday; and Low tide is at 5:49 AM on Sunday.


All maps will be printed at 1:10,000 scale on letter-sized pages.  Contour interval for the Shackleford map is 2.5m.  (The Beaufort map will probably not have contour lines.)  Please bring your own map cases.  The area will not have been exhaustively field-checked; however, vegetation and contours will be depicted quite accurately.  Contour lines near the south (ocean) coast may be untrustworthy because of beach erosion.  Conversely, flat beaches on the north of the island may be larger than mapped.  Note also that the depicted water line can be off by many meters, depending on the tide level.

Saturday “Motalla”. 

The course will consist of three loops, with a map exchange between loops.  Loop distances are (tentatively) 2.6km, 2.1km, and 1.5km.  The 2.6km loop is mandatory; the others are optional.  If you run more than one loop, you will do them in a random order.  The following color names will be assigned:  Brown:2.6; GreenX: 2.6 + 1.5 = 4.1;  GreenY: 2.6 + 2.1 = 4.7; Red: 2.6 + 2.1 + 1.5 = 6.2. 

Saturday Night-O.

Sunset is at 6:11.  Start times will be individually assigned, starting at 7:00 with a start interval that will depend on how many people are competing.  There is currently one course designed (tentatively 4.1km) but if enough people register, I may create a new one.  Obviously, you will need to bring a headlamp and spare batteries.

Sunday Classic.

Note that daylight savings time will kick-in between Saturday and Sunday’s event.  The times on the schedule account for this (i.e., The ferry leaves Beaufort at 10:00 AM, but it may feel like 9:00 AM).

Three classic courses will be offered:  brown (4.1 km), green (5.3 km) and red (7.0 km).

We absolutely must have all equipment picked up and ready to go by 3:00, when the last ferry heads back to the mainland.  Therefore, control pickup may start as early as 1:00, but definitely by 1:30. 

Virtual Street-O.

A virtual street course will be available all weekend in the town of Beaufort.  This particular event will be directed by Joseph, and he will relay more details, including information about how to access the map.  A ‘virtual’ orienteering course implies that there will not be physical control markers to find or punch.  Instead, you will carry a smartphone on which is installed an orienteering app called ‘Usynligo’.  When the app is running, it will beep when you are close enough to one of the controls on your map.  Your map will still be a traditional paper map.  Click here to learn more about Usynligo. 

An email with last-minute details will be sent to registrants a few days before the events.  If you need additional information to enable you to decide how/whether to register, feel free to email the event director (Dave) at

One Response to “Coastal Orienteering Weekend, 11/12 March”

  1. […] at Shackleford Banks recently cancel. So registration is now open again. Read about the event here, where you can also find a link to […]