Leaving Pungo Bay
We headed out early, due to weather concerns later in the day. When we pulled anchor at 6:45 am, it was warm (70 degrees!), calm, but cloudy, with showers expected later in the day. Our goal was Beaufort, N.C. where we had a slip reserved at Beaufort Docks, nearly an 80 mile run.
As predicted, the weather did get rainy and a bit foggy, but the channels are largely well marked, and it was a pretty ride, with some beautiful homes, lots of fishing boats and the famed R.E. Mayo Fish Market, marine supply, docks, fuel and lots of friendly fisherman waving from their boats!
Just before entering Beaufort Harbor, we were noticing a definite uptick in the number of dolphins we were sighting. We had enjoyed their company before, but now they were all over the place!
One of the things that strikes you immediately when traveling towards Beaufort, along the waterfront in town, and south of Beaufort: The after effects of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall on Thursday evening, September 13, 2018, are very evident. There are many homes with tarps on their roofs, docks destroyed, boats washed up on the shores, windows boarded up, and along the waterfront in Beaufort, numerous shuttered businesses.
Two months after the storm, still “signs” of Florence.
Happily, there was a lot of work being done everywhere, and many businesses are reopened, with others nearly there. One shopkeeper told us that her brother lost the roof of his home during the storm, and tarps or repair materials were sold out. Driving home, he had noticed that the huge plastic sheets that cover the billboards near his home had blown down, and lay in sheets beneath their frames. So he pulled over and loaded the sheets of the billboard ads into his truck, took them home and covered his roof with several different ads, in random order! That must have been quite a sight!
We were thrilled to settle in for a couple of days. While the trip down from Norfolk was fabulous, it was some of the most challenging boat travel we’ve taken on. Our weather was fairly mediocre, channels are narrow and prone to shoaling and mysterious objects floating both above and below the surface. We needed to hook up to electricity, charge some batteries (including our own!), provision and do laundry! We arrived at the lovely Beaufort Docks, and were given a warm welcome and helping hands from the crew there.
There’s a Marine Corps Air Station nearby, so there is a fair amount of air traffic throughout the day.
The waterfront town and neighborhoods in Beaufort are charming and beautifully kept. We enjoyed stretching our legs after our trip by strolling around a few neighborhoods.
We enjoyed dinner on the boat and were treated to a spectacular sunset. And the best part, most of our view took place relaxing on the back deck, fanny’s in our chairs!
Sunset, November 5, 2018, Beaufort, N.C., viewed from Misty’s aft deck
We had booked seats on the ferry over to Shackleford Banks, the southern most barrier island in Cape Lookout National Seashore. Shackleford is known for pristine beaches, some of the best shelling in North Carolina, and the wild banker horses that roam this uninhabited island. Unfortunately, the tour boat felt the winds were a bit high, and tourism was low, so our trip was cancelled. We think it was more about the low tourism, as it was a pretty beautiful day. So, Plan B was a bike ride, laundry and provisioning! We took a good tour around town, along the waterfront and stopped at several historic spots throughout town.
Beaufort is North Carolina’s third oldest town, and lies on the coast bordering the southern tip of the Outer Banks. Originally a fishing village and port of safety dating to the late 1600’s, Beaufort has been visited by patriots, privateers, merchants and skilled craftsman who built beautiful Bahamian and West Indian style homes and public buildings. In the middle of town, you can visit the Beaufort Historic Site, where you’ll find a group of six professionally restored buildings and the Old Burying Grounds, all manned by friendly and knowledgable docents.
Beaufort Historic Site
The Old Burying Ground
Some views of Beaufort from our bikes…and yes, we did get ice cream!
During our bike ride, we spotted our first wild horse, grazing in the beach grass on the spit of land across from Beaufort.
Beaufort Docks has five (5) courtesy cars…which is unheard of! We’re grateful if they have one! Here’s the thing about courtesy cars…they’re generally complete junk. Think small, loud, dirty, bouncy, dented, you name it! So, when I went to collect the keys for my trip to the grocery store, I should have realized by the smirk on the dockhands face and the comment “over in the lot on the far side of the building, green car with a red drivers side door, you can’t miss it”, that this one was a beauty. And it was. Fortunately, it got the job done, and sadly fit right in, as when you get away from the Beaufort waterfront, the neighborhood changes drastically. Not for the better.
Fabulous marina courtesy car!
There are a number of restaurants in town with excellent reputations: Aqua, Beaufort Grocery Co. and City Kitchen. Due to both convenience of hours and location, we chose to have dinner at Aqua.. The restaurant is hidden on a little lane (Middle Lane, to be exact!) behind Front Street. It’s adorable inside and out, the staff is friendly and attentive, and the food was wonderful! We have to come back to Beaufort just to eat!
The next day, November 8th, we left for Topsail Beach, but not before enjoying a lovely evening on the deck and a beautiful sunrise. Good-Bye for now, Beaufort, we’ll be back for more!