Day Trip To Beaufort
Beaufort is an undeniably pretty place. And its proud pristine buildings, rocking chairs on the porches and friendly people combine to serve up Southern charm in spades. Almost the whole town forms part of Beaufort history. And there’s a large slice of maritime history here: Blackbeard the pirate may have stayed in the area. His ship certainly did. Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground at Beaufort Inlet in 1718, and the wreck of the vessel was found near Atlantic Beach (a bit further south) in 1996.
In recognition of the Blackbeard connection, every year in August since 1960, the town hosts The Beaufort Pirate Invasion. And we understand this year’s event was a big ‘un because 2018 is the 300-year anniversary of Teddy Teach’s chaotic exploits. The event is a simple formula: the pirates invade by sea, the locals fight them off, and the festivities go on until 2300. It’s a pity we were three months too late; it sounds a lot of fun.
Sailing to the shoals
On Sunday 11th November, we left Beaufort behind and headed out to sea – not the most straightforward exercise. The channels around this area aren’t so well marked and have more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie plot. I think a few people have been caught out. The marina folks hand out a drawing explaining what to avoid and the best route to take to avoid running aground. This circuitous route seems to take an age to get out there, especially when dodging fishing boats coming back in. Finally, however, we popped out at Cape Hatteras, turned right past Blackbeard’s ship and continued on our way South.
With the wind blowing a robust North Easterly (from behind us), we just rolled out the genoa and sat back for the cold and breezy ride. Our original plan was to re-enter the ICW at Southport – just after Cape Fear. But with Lady Jane rolling along at a faster-than-expected seven knots, we would have arrived in the dark. And we didn’t fancy that. So, we replotted a course to head further south and to the inlet leading to Georgetown.
On the way, the dolphins came to play. We had a few sightings in the morning as we left the harbour, but the main show started in the afternoon: A small pod of dolphins stayed with us for about half an hour. They swam to our left for a while, then to the right, then took it in turns leaping out of the water in front of Lady Jane’s bow. And we caught the show on camera.
Not much else happened after that. We sailed on the outside of Frying Pan Shoals in the dark as temperatures dropped enough to penetrate four layers of clothing. And as morning came, it rained. But, as we arrived at the entrance to Georgetown even earlier than expected, we continued to sail up the channel towards the ICW.
The current here is strong, scuppering any thoughts of going further south when our speed dropped to under 5 knots. So rather than plod along in that, we turned into the nearest good anchorage we could find on the ICW – Minim Creek. Reports here suggest that alligators swim around the river here. We didn’t see any, but we cleared out of there real snappy the next morning headed towards Charleston.