Saturday, November 11, 2017

South To Beaufort, NC

It's a cold morning in Beaufort. The wind is brisk and out of the North, conditions we've not felt since leaving Memphis last winter. We actually broke out the jeans, sweatshirts, down jackets, and—oh my god—socks.

For the last couple of days it's been rainy too. We've mentally kicked ourselves for not going with the original plan of spending one night and continuing on South.
On the other hand, after a few hours here, it quickly became apparent that Beaufort's a bonafide boaty little town, a good hang. It would be shame to leave Beaufort and not get acquainted - as usual we caved to impulse - glad we did.

The first 2 days of our stay the weather was perfect. 72º and sunny

The walk from the marina to downtown is through a picturesque little historic neighborhood. Only about 3 blocks and you're on Front Street, lined with waterfront shops and small restaurants that overlook the harbor and town docks. Our first walkabout took us to Spouter Inn where lunch was excellent, but after some investigation we discovered the Beaufort Cafe. A local favorite.
Not on Front Street, not a place most tourist would seek out, not expensive—however, The Beaufort Cafe is certainly worth the long walk down Cedar Street to experience this genuine Beaufort style diner. The best Shrimp and Grits we've ever been served. $8.95

Yep, we really like it here, however the run down has been appealing as well.

As is always the case, leaving Atlantic Yacht Basin is good; we've been here far too long.
When we come and go we always stop and contribute to the AYB Fund, though I must admit the last few trips it has seemed like paying the troll to cross the bridge. But, it is what it is and AYB can be invaluable sometimes so we don't burn that bridge.

Finally, after almost 2 weeks, AYB dude is driving in the last screw as I'm warming up the engine, waiting on the bridge to open—then we're off.

Deciding to bypass the customary stop at Coinjock, we keep pushing to Alligator River Marina. This makes for a longer day, but we really like this little marina in the middle of nowhere. Rumors are there's not enough water for a boat such as ours, but,  as rumors often are ...  that's not accurate at all. FYI: Leaving the channel there's good depths all the way to the entrance of the marina. Then, it does shallow up to 8' right up to the long transient dock. The gas station has excellent gas station food. Yes, it's surely bad for you, but - are we actually doing this stuff for our health? Buy some fried chicken, it travels well.

Full Moon Over Alligator River

Next stop is Belhaven's River Forest Marina. We stayed here for the first time on our way up this year and found it to be one of those places we'll always visit.  It seems many boats pass by River Forest and go to Belhaven Marina because it's closer to town, but Henry gives us a golf cart to make the short run to Spoon River Restaurant and we can use the cart all day.

Sticking with our plan this time, we stayed here for a couple of days.

On our second day, a pleasant Indian Summer day, all was good until a boat full of gentlemen came roaring in to get fuel and waked the crap out of us.  Slamming us against the docks, and badly bending our boarding ladder, we weren't too happy, nor was the dockmaster . After a few words, with difficulty due to the captain being Argentinian, we got the appropriate insurance info and a possible resolution. We'll see. Geico?

Leaving Belhaven, promising to come back, we made our way South unsure where we might end the day. 

We made a call to Morehead City Docks, but they wouldn't commit to a T-Head slip - even though there was one available. At the time our plan was rise early and head outside to wherever. We've been held here in the past by a strong unrelenting current pressing us against the dock for hours; we didn't want to repeat that so a T-Head was important to us. No joy from Morehead City Docks so we started looking for something else.

Mel did some research, made a few calls, and at the last minute we pass Jarrett Bay to go to Homer Smith's Docks. Not doing any homework, we're unsure where to get off the ICW and into the marina, but after a call and some fuzzy directions, we make it in and tie up. 

Homer Smith's Docks and Marina is a perfectly descriptive name. Homer Smith was an old time fish broker, looking around you'll see his docks, crowded with shrimp boats and fishing boats; where we are out at the end is the marina portion. It's small but the service is good and attitude here is refreshing. First they give you - for free - 2 pounds of shrimp that you just witnessed being taken off a boat, then they offer to let you buy more at $6.00 a pound so we bought 6 pounds. Floating docks, loaner car, usable WiFi that's soon to be excellent, we've found our, "always stop at", marina in Beaufort.

The next morning, planning to crank up and leave early, I walk up to find dense fog that's only getting worse.

Knowing we'd need every bit of daylight to make it to Masonboro Inlet and down to Southport, we quickly realize that staying put for another day will be a good idea.
It was, and around 11:00 AM the sun burned off the fog and presented us a glorious day, the perfect conditions to explore our surroundings.
Checking the weather for the next day, it was forecast to be the same or worse in the morning. So, it was decided to give Beaufort yet another day. And we did—and a week later—we're still here.

Not entirely because of weather; we really like this marina a lot, just the smell of the place pleases our senses, and they offer a weekly rate after 4 days stay making the next few days were free.

Watching the shimpers and fishermen come in to unload is fun. They're a friendly bunch, always happy to strike up a conversation as they go about refueling or unloading the days catch.

Staying here is being backstage at the fish docks.

Today, the weather's howling and outside the Atlantic is building huge seas.

Tomorrow, our time's up, we'll untie and head south on the AICW.  Not much fun, but it's time to go.
Hopefully, the seas will soon subside and we can point outside towards Charleston, Hilton Head, Brunswick, then home as fast as we can go.

We've had a great time this year. Worked hard, but enjoyed doing it, got a lot accomplished while living the life we love. Probably stayed at more marinas in more cities than we ever have and that's been a blast.

We left Jupiter in May with a plan to go to the Bahamas for a couple of months then return. It's now November and we've not made it home yet.

We always seem to know when it's time to go home.

It's time.