Beaufort, North Carolina

Melvyn Brown
Wed 24 Nov 2010 20:45

Apparently the pronunciation is Bofert according to a brochure I picked up today or Bofart if you believe Wikapedia.    (They are very sensitive about the fact they get confused with Beaufort – pronounced the way you would expect - in South Carolina.)


On Monday morning we exchanged Beaufort Docks Marina for the Town Creek Marina just around the corner.  The Docks charged $78 a night and when Melv asked about the tariff for a week they said they would drop it to $74(!!).  When we left there were less than a handful of boats remaining in the marina (after a bit of a flurry over the weekend) and you just wonder if it wouldn’t have made sense to let us remain, albeit at a discounted rate.  Keen to attract business over the winter they were offering a special monthly tariff of just $300+length of boat for the period December through April.  The Town Creek Marina is no where near as picturesque, positioned as it is next to the local airport, but not only did they offer a heavily discounted rate for a week’s berth, they also offered 25% off for Boat US members (which we recently joined in order to ensure a free tow if we ever went aground).  A week is costing less than $250.  


“Parking” at the Town Creek Marina was somewhat stressful.  For one it was low tide and the depths (as always) were touch-and-go and then Melv had to get Zarafina between two large wooden piles…and stop before hitting the pontoon at the end.  Tying up involved lassoing the wooden piles, all the while avoiding the half-million dollar motor boat on the next pontoon.  The lady Marina Manager had taken a rope from me (which I had thrown and missed) at the bow and was witness to all this – frankly I was surprised she let us take out the courtesy car this morning!  However, this afternoon we observed a yacht with a Caribbean flag attempt the same manoeuvre, and if anything make a bigger mess of it, actually hitting one of the piles.  The woman on boat made several futile attempts to lasso before the guy took over and succeeded (this woman didn’t volunteer, knowing there was even the slightest possibility of managing it).


I called in to the Historical Centre and picked up a guide to the Old Burying Ground and there are a few interesting stories surrounding those buried there:


Sarah Gibbs (d.1792) & Jacob Shepard (d.1773) – Sarah was married to Jacob Shepard, a seaman.  Jacob’s ship went to sea, but never returned.  He was presumed to be dead.  Later, Sarah married Nathanial Gibbs and had a child with him.  After an absence of several years, the shipwrecked Jacob Shepherd unexpectedly returned to Beaufort to find his wife married to another man.  The two men agreed that Sarah would remain with Gibbs as long as she lived, but must spend eternity at the side of Jacob Shepherd.

Nancy Manney French (1821-1886) – Her story has become legendary.  Nancy loved Charles French, her tutor.  Her father opposed the romance.  Charles went away to seek his fortune and vowed to return for Nancy.  He went to the territory of Arizona and became a chief justice.  The postmaster in Beaufort, a friend of Nancy’s father, intercepted the correspondence between the two.  His conscience drove him, before his death, to confess to Nancy what he had done.  As an old man, Charles, still not able to forget Nancy, returned to Beaufort and found her, whose love had never faltered, dying of “consumption”.  The couple married and a few weeks later Nancy died.

Girl in Barrel of Rum – Here is the grave of a girl buried in a barrel of rum.  In the 1700s an English family, including an infant daughter, came to Beaufort.  The girl grew up with a desire to see her homeland and finally persuaded her mother to allow her to make the voyage.  Her father promised his wife he would return the girl safely.  The girl enjoyed her visit to London, but died on the voyage home.  She would have been buried at sea but her father could not bear to break his promise.  He purchased a barrel of rum from the captain, placed her body in it and brought it to Beaufort for burial.  (People are still touched by her story and - somewhat mawkishly - the grave is covered with toys, shells, artificial flowers etc.)


Beaufort was the home town of Michael J Smith who was captain on the Challenger.  There is a memorial to him in the town centre and they have also named the aforementioned airport after him.


We have rather lost touch with the day-to-day political happenings in the UK – there is rarely a mention in the US newspapers or radio (why would there be?) although we do listen to The News Quiz and The Now Show via the internet and who’s to say that isn’t the best way to get a handle on the important issues of the day?  We listen to NPR (National Public Radio) which is the nearest thing to Radio 4 and which gets a little funding from the government (but even that is under threat because of the cut backs) and donations from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ‘John and Jill Smith who have made a donation to mark the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary’.  It’s all very civilized – no John Humphries to give the politicians a hard time.  They get invited on, give their prepared spiel (complete with sound bites) without interruption and when the presenter thanks them for coming on the programme they ALWAYS reply “and thank you for having me”.  During the night they revert to the BBC World Service (for which they pay) and I listen on my Walkman in the wee small hours when I can’t sleep.  There is a fairly eclectic mix of programs.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we can look forward to a telephone call-in to assist with any problems preparing Thanksgiving lunch, an interview with Nigella Lawson and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing songs of thanksgiving at 3 o’clock (we’ll probably give that one a miss).


The station frequency changes from region to region and so the radio always has to be re-tuned when we move on.  The other morning I made the mistake of thinking that because I heard voices rather than hip-hop music or adverts for boiler repairs, I had found NPR but it turned out to be “talk radio” – think especially disgruntled Daily Mail readers….on speed!  The topic happened to be the recently introduced full body scanners - which invaded your privacy - as opposed to the ‘invasive’ pat down (aka “groping”) at airports.  One caller to the programme said she was OK with either if it improved security and the presenter asked incredulously whether she would feel the same way if someone appeared at her front door and demanded to search her house and she said yes if they thought there was something there and she knew she had nothing to hide.  They then had a “security expert” on the programme who said (and I paraphrase) all known bombers had been between 20 and 40 and Muslims and frankly those were the people who should be singled out for special attention and not grandmothers travelling to see their family.  The rhetoric was very anti-Islamic and from the tone of the debate I began to see what was meant by the term “Shock Jocks” on US radio.