Beaufort, North Carolina
Date: Sunday 13th June 2014
Position: 34:42.835N 76:39.762W
I left Masonboro at around 8am on Wednesday 11th for what should have been a pretty straightforward run along the coast to Beaufort, around 60 miles away. There was still insufficient wind to sail so I motored. The VHF radio then screeched the presence of ‘Warship 56’ who was ‘engaged in live firing exercises’. All other ships were warned to stay at least 15 miles away from him. I noted down his co-ordinates and plotted them on my chart. A curse released itself from my lips when I appreciated that his position was directly on my rhumb line course to Beaufort. Since he was only 6 miles offshore it would be impossible to slip inside of him, so I would have to travel an extra, and very unwelcome, 15 miles out to sea in order to avoid him.
Other than returning to Masonboro there was little option other than to follow his instructions, so I made the requested course change and resigned myself to a few extra hours motoring through flat seas. I never saw the warship, but I could hear his booming guns. They sounded quite impressive! To lift my spirits I actually caught a couple of small tuna of a variety called ‘little tunny’. I gutted and filleted these whilst underway.
Beaufort lies a couple of miles inland of another river that has to be negotiated and I was soon woken from my torpid state when I realised how strongly this was running. Even more focus was required when it became clear that the buoyage, in actualité, was different from that indicated on my charts. There were also a large number of substantial sports fishing boats passing me at speed (their AIS signals told me that some of them were traveling at 25 knots). I eventually managed to get my mainsail down without being pushed into shallow water.
I had ordered some gearbox oil to be delivered to me at the marina in Beaufort, so I thought that I was morally bound to spend at least a night there. I anchored outside the marina to put out my lines and fenders (impossible when by myself in the narrow, fast flowing entrance channel), then when ready entered the marina to be placed in a very tight spot that lay across the river current. I made a mental note to only try to leave at slack tide. It was an expensive marina (not sure why) but it had at least one redeeming feature in that I was presented with a couple of tickets that would allow me to have two free beers in the local bar.
Most of the pontoons were occupied by the big sports fishing boats that had buzzed me on the way in, as there was a fishing tournament under way. When I spoke to a couple of the skippers I was gratified to hear that most of them (despite their mountains of expensive fishing gear) had caught nowt, whereas I, with my one little second hand fishing rod had caught two tuna and had fresh meat for the next few days!
Waimangu were anchored in the river outside of the marina, so the next day we used one of the marina’s courtesy cars (all quite beaten up but fun to drive) to go to an out of town supermarket and stock up on food and do some other chores that required transport. That night I was able to repay Tim & Aoife’s hospitality in previous anchorages by cooking up some of my tuna catch.
I’m afraid that the town of Beaufort had the same effect on me as the previous places I had visited along the coast. All of them were attractive and generally without fault, but I just couldn’t wind my mojo up into a state where I could get any pleasure from sightseeing.
My gearbox oil was late in arriving so I left the marina after a couple of nights and anchored outside in the river to wait for it. Tim & Aoife left a couple of days before me to make their way along the ICW.