Sitting under Cape Hatteras, Beaufort is just two miles from Moorhead City and a pit stop for boats of all sizes heading north and south, either out round the Cape or into the ICW. The route round Hatteras to Norfolk is over 150 miles with nowhere to run into should weather close in as it often does, so this port of call is as far as some smaller craft go on the outside. The route inside on the rivers and canals is less weather dependant, although the Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds being shallow and open can kick up horrible waves for smaller boats. We chose to go inside but needed to give the boat a wash and brush-up after months in the Bahamas where water is sold by the gallon and two days in Beaufort Docks marina would prove perfect for what needed to be achieved. We also needed a large supermarket sweep as we had run down our victuals in the Bahamas.
First we had need of the laundry which was just across the street from the marina. An air-conditioned room adorned with washers and dryers administered by the adjoining general store. With two large bags full of washing delivered Phil returned to wash the boat leaving the 'Admiral' to oversee the washing process. Approximately one hour later alarms sounded from boats around the marina indicating that the shore power had been cut. The shout went up - it's off all over the county! This included the laundry facility of course and a furious looking lady was striding back to Ajaya without any nice clean bags of clothing in sight - that was all still stuck in the 'power-less' washing machines. Two hours later when the power was eventually restored and a kind man had finally switched off the screeching alarm on the next door boat life returned to normal with the machines giving up their contents and a happier wash-lady heading back to Ajaya. Job done!
Many marinas offer courtesy cars and vans for their visitors to make use of and Beaufort is no exception, except that they only book the car out by the hour and we needed more like three hours to get to the out of town store, walk the miles of shelves, check-out, visit a liquor store and drive back to the marina. When we posed this problem to the marina staff they looked at each other and offered us car number 3 from their courtesy car pool which apparently isn't used very often. "It's a green Buick station wagon parked across the street in a car lot. Take it for a few hours, there's no rush" we were informed.
We walked round the parking lot looking for a car with the number 3 in the back window. Nothing seen until we walked out of the tarmac section onto a separate overgrown grassy car park. There in all its rusting glory was Buick Roadmaster No. 3, begging for release from its final days as a useful runabout and be taken to the crushers to put it out of its misery. We looked at each other not knowing whether to laugh or give the keys back. This indeed was a station wagon of magnificent proportions. Capable of transporting about 8 people and a couple of large family hounds, it was covered in dead pine leaves and rust. The inside looked as though a pride of lions had been locked in for a night and had gone crazy with the upholstery. We gingerly sat in the front seats miles still some distance away from each other and read the instructions for use written on a piece of card on the dash. Quite clearly it stated - Do Not Lock the Car. This could be for two reasons - the locks were broken or they were hoping somebody may just drive the thing away saving the marina the expense of disposing of the beast.
Surprisingly it burst readily into life ready to emit a large carbon footprint from its huge V8 engine. Having acquainted ourselves with the automatic controls we eased out of the parking lot and took off up the road. We could sense the marina staff laughing their heads off as we took off like Uncle Buck. We expected to hear a loud explosion from the exhaust as we headed for the supermarket but none came. As we gathered speed the dead pine needles flew off over the roof onto the windscreens of any following cars. At the lights we felt conspicuous to say the least, given that wrecks are uncommon on USA roads these days - most seem to get shipped to the Bahamas! We arrived safely at the Food Lion and left the Buick as far as possible from other cars - parked at the far end of the car park it looked as though the car had been dumped there by an unscrupulous owner wanting rid. We hoped it wouldn't be towed away in our absence.
The shopping loaded into two trolleys we made for the car only to hit the first major problem. The back door wouldn't open. In fact it probably hadn't been opened for years so all two trolley loads had to be piled into the middle row of seats. The engine started first time proving to be amazingly reliable for the mileage but with an appropriate thirst for fuel typical for cars of that era. It was then off to the liquor store where we pulled into the car park in front of store much to the amusements of a car full of youths in a pick-up truck. Concerned about the instructions regarding the locking of the car Phil chose to guard the shopping whose value probably exceeded twice that of the car it was stacked in. The purchase of several bottles of hooch certainly tipped the scales in favour of the shopping on that score.
Back at the marina and having avoided any mishaps on the way we loaded the food into two more trolleys and Phil returned the car back to the grassy car park where - surprisingly a sister Buick in similar state of repair was parked, having been out on its own adventure on the streets of Beaufort. Resisting the urge to lock the car the keys were duly returned and a feint smile detected on the faces of the staff in the office. At least it did the job!
What a beauty! it doesn't have a 'best side'
Whilst in Beaufort we took the chance to look round the immediate area and see what attracted tourists to this attractive town - here are some pics we took as we walked.....
Colonial style porch with requisite rockers Beautifully restored similar design of the period 17-1800's
Part of the Beaufort historic museum this is a 'live' exhibit boatbuilding shed with a surf boat just completed ready to be handed over to new owners
Seen anchored off Beaufort - sistership to Ajaya and one we actually placed an offer for many moons ago!