Saturday, October 26, 2013

Beaufort, North Carolina

Inviting porch on Ann Street in Beaufort
 One of our favorite southern towns along our eastern seaboard journey is Beaufort, North Carolina. The only problem with Beaufort is that there always seems to be a forecast of gale force winds. That was what prevented us from stopping last year when we anchored overnight but, chose to get out of Beaufort prior to the gale's arrival. This year weather patterns have been relatively benign and it was apparent that a two night stay was possible.
It's always windy in Beaufort, NC


    Beaufort is a good stop to provision and do laundry and it had been ten days since our last stop at our friends Bob and Pat's house. I called the Town Creek Marina in Beaufort for reservations because it was within dinghying distance to town and one of the more reasonably priced marinas. One slip was available but, its location and approach into the slip were less than desirable for a full keeled boat like Simple Life. She has limited maneuverability and no bow thrusters. I asked the person with whom I was speaking if a couple of dock hands could assist us upon arrival and she assured me that she'd make a note of my request. When we arrived at Town Creek the next morning we hailed the marina on the VHF radio for instructions to our slip. A young woman was positioned on the dock waving us in toward an inside slip. When you're already stressed trying to plan the approach into tight quarters with pilings that need stern lines secured and the only available dock hand is texting! Needless to say I used my daily allotment of swears and curses that began with the letter F. Somehow Simple Life was secured by Joe who was running around deck like a monkey in a room full of typewriters. The dock hand did manage to hold onto one bow line while messaging with the other.

Pumpkins for sale
     Even though it was a lovely and fall like our arrival day was spent doing mounds of laundry. Two washers and one dryer were functioning the other dryer was malfunctioning. I had laundry duty while Joe gaveSimple Life a good scrubbing. The marina courtesy car for grocery shopping was reserved by other cruisers for the remainder of the day so we put our grocery list aside and added our name on the list for the next morning. By the next day, with chores completed by 11:00 AM the crew of Simple Life were granted shore leave and were free to explore this gem of southern history and enjoy a much deserved delectable lunch of crab cakes ashore. Our restaurant of choice for lunch and refreshments was The Spouter Inn and Bakery on Front Street conveniently located at one of the town dinghy docks. This restaurant came highly recommended by Claiborne Young who maintains a website for cruisers who travel the southern intracoastal waterway. We were escorted to the sunny, waterside deck overlooking the anchorage in Taylor's Creek and Carrot Island which is part of the Rachel Carson Reserve. Rachel Carson a marine biologist, early environmentalist and author of Silent Spring and The Sea Around Us spent a summer during the 1940's conducting research on the islands that comprise the reserve.

Volunteers building sailing skiff at the Maritime Museum

     The North Carolina Maritime Museum was our fist stop after lunch. It was fascinating to watch a group of volunteers collectively participate in the construction of a wooden lap strake boat. It was essentially a live exhibit. Another volunteer explained the finer points of ship in a bottle model building. Now there's a man with admirable patience.
Ship in a bottle builder at the Maritime Museum


Touring the Old Burying Ground

     Another of my favorite things to do in Beaufort is visiting the Old Burying Ground (established in 1709) on Ann St. To some this may sound a bit macabre but, it's such a peaceful way to spend an afternoon. Apparently, others appreciate its charms, too. Large live oak trees, strangled by overgrown wisteria vines and large elms emitted dappled sunlit areas of this historic site. Sounds of whispering wind in the trees and leaves crunched underfoot as we meandered through the natural pathways leading from one gravesite to another. The visitor center offered maps for self guided tours and we found it a relaxing way to top off an afternoon in Beaufort.
Gravestone design inspired by the gate to heaven

    After enjoying a special day we returned to the boat for our own "happy hour special" and hoisted the dingy onto davits for departure the next morning and before the sun set. Even with the less than ideal docking experience the previous day, Beaufort remains on my list of best historic towns on the Atlantic seaboard. There's a vibe that's not easily explained but, one that must be experienced to understand. We'll definitely make this a stop during our northern migration but, maybe we'll anchor out next time.

Sunrise in Beaufort, North Carolina