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Thursday, June 25, 2009


It’s 0600 (6:00am) Thursday morning, and the damn alarm clock is going off and I can’t find the Off-Switch! I finally get my hands wrapped around the stupid clock and manage to choke off it’s obnoxious beeping. It takes a minute to clear my head, as it seems that I’d just fallen asleep, but I slowly realize that it’s time to get up, walk the dog and get on the water towards Beaufort (pronounced Bō-fǝrt), NC at the 7:45am slack tide.

Complete Pre-sailing Check list: Dog walked; Quick shower taken; Quick breakfast (bagel); Loose items stored away; Drawers and cabinets locked; Check engine: Oil level & Coolant Level; Warm-up Electronics: Chart-Plotter, GPS, Radar and Radio; Start main engine; Stop and Wait for Tide. (Well, that went well!)

As the tide went slack and the current came to a stall, we cast off our lines from the dock at the Beach House Marina and motored out into the ICW. A quick northerly turn at the end of the marina fairway and we were on our way to Beaufort.

Leaving on a slack, low tide was critical to a safe transit of this section of the waterway. The ICW, from Sneads Ferry, NC through Onslow Beach, U.S. Marine Base Camp Lejeune, is in bad shape do to a lack of dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. As a result thereof, the waterway has shoaled in this area and, even though we only draw 5 feet, it’s only navigable at near high tide. By leaving Surf City when we did, we’ll be passing through this area within a one-hour window of its high tide.

The trip was, by-and-large, uneventful. Our timing was perfect, so we made uninterrupted progress up the waterway, broken only by the occasional drawbridge and the sight of Osprey feeding their young, Pelicans diving for fish and the never ending relay of Dolphin (the mammal type) swimming along side the boat, catching a free ride in our wake.

The last leg of the trip was Bogue Sound, a 23-mile by 2-mile shallow bay that extends from Swansboro Inlet to Beaufort Inlet. The Sound is extremely shallow; less than 5 feet over 75% of its area. Because of this, any wind over 10 or 12 knots can quickly pile up the water, creating waves and turbulence that seems to come from all directions. This can make for a really miserable ride (trust us, we’ve been there!)

Today, however, it was a piece of cake. The wind was blowing at 8 to 10 knots and from the shore to the sea. So, there was hardly any effect on the water and the waves and surge stayed under a foot in height. We settled in and really enjoyed the last three hours of our trip and were soon in Beaufort Harbor.

Beaufort, NC, has long been hailed as the "Gateway to the Caribbean." Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, Beaufort is a port of departure for many boats sailing to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. The town was developed during colonial times, as a deep-water port to receive European wares and spices from the islands. Things have changed, however, and most of the deep-water trade is now plied in neighboring Morehead City, leaving Beaufort a rustic, yet bustling, waterside community.

Today, most of Beaufort's historic homes, gardens and commercial buildings have been restored. Ever popular with the tourists, Beaufort’s primary attractions are still the Public Park, Town Docks and anchorage along the waterfront. Here, landlubbers can get up close to all manner of power and sailing vessels, book passage on a harbor cruise or day-sailing adventure or stroll the myriad shops and restaurants that line the streets. With the lure of treasure, from the recently uncovered remains of Black Beard's ship, Beaufort is the perfect city in which to spend a few days, dreaming of sailing the high seas, battling pirates and having the greatest adventure.

We tied up at the town dock around 3:00pm and were snug in our slip, with electricity and water, by 3:30. Going below, I turned on the radio, only to find out that Michael Jackson had been taken to the hospital suffering cardiac arrest. Then, 30 minutes later, the worst news of all came; he was dead! Oh, how can life on this planet continue without the self-proclaimed King of Pop? Well….I guess we have no choice but to find out! (Stay tuned for more on this subject.)

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