Exploring Beaufort and Oriental, NC

On Tuesday, we untied from the dock in Carolina Beach, waved goodbye to Auntie Linda, and continued north toward Beaufort, the third oldest town in North Carolina and pronounced “BO-fert” as opposed to the “Bu-fert” of SC.

Oh the company you’ll keep sailing along the ICW

It was a two day hop that had us anchoring within the boundaries of a military base, Camp Lejune. Though the cruising guide says any boats in the area can be ordered to leave due to military maneuvers at anytime, day or night, we had an undisturbed and peaceful night’s sleep. And a bonus, we synced back up with our friends, Gregg and Jo, of Simpatico who also happened to be anchored there.

As we were pulling up anchor on Wednesday morning we met a fellow cruiser in the anchorage, David, on Cloud Messenger. His depth sounder had stopped working so he asked to follow us through some potentially tricky parts of the ICW where the channel gets shallow. Our boats draw the same amount of water (depth of the keel), so if we started getting into questionable areas we could warn him via radio and proceed slowly together. So, with Simpatico, the three of us set out for Beaufort.

Beautiful Beaufort, NC anchorage and waterfront

Captains Matt and Gregg (s/v Simpatico) catching up in the anchorage

It turned out to be an easy 45 mile (7 hour) motorsail with only one shallow enough area where we skimmed bottom. We set the hook (actually two in opposing directions because of the crowded anchorage and switching currents) then did some research on what to see in town and relaxed on board the rest of the evening.

We spent Thursday morning window shopping, exploring the waterfront and visiting the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Along with artifacts and displays on boating, fishing and lighthouses on the East Coast, the museum is the official repository for articles from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort in 1718.

Getting a taste of coastal culture and maritime history

Pirate lore galore

The ship was discovered by a commercial salvage company in 1996 near where it was reportedly run aground by Blackbeard and his crew. Many of the near 300 year old artifacts, from the ships enormous anchor to its many cannons, dinnerware and muskets have been recovered. Since it sank slowly after hitting the a shoal, Blackbeard and his men had time to ferry off all of the treasure. Along with the intriguing exhibit, we were surprised to learn the Blackbeard’s rein as a fierce pirate was only over a span of about two years. That’s a lot of heck to raise in such a short amount of time!

Boatbuilding in the Museum’s Watercraft Center

After taking in our fill of pirate lore, it was back to Kaleo to head for Oriental. We were again joined by Cloud Messenger, and other than a quick stop on anchor to keep us from sailing into a storm passing ahead, had another uneventful trip. We pulled into the free Town Dock (check out their HarborCam), secured the boat and sauntered around the unofficial sailing capital of North Carolina. Dubbed so because with only 875 residents, there are over 2500 boats.

Kaleo at the Town Dock with God’s Grace between her & the approaching storm

That evening we met up with our new sailing friend, David, and swapped Bahamas cruising stories over dinner at M&M’s Cafe.

On Friday morning, we could see a wall of rain charging our way, so we closed up Kaleo and headed across the street to “The Bean.” The local coffee shop where all the town’s news, sailing stories and such are traded over their signature drinks. We indulged in the Chai Tea Smoothie and Chai Tea Float while mingling with others seeking dry shelter while waiting out the torrential downpour.

After the sun came out, we hopped on complimentary bikes borrowed from the cruiser-friendly “Provision Company” and explored more of the town. After mining through the treasures at the boater favorite “Marine Consignment of Oriental” and a ride over the town bridge, it was back to Kaleo for a few boat chores. Afterward, Simpatico came by for a visit, David came for taco dinner and we met a neat family of four that had been out on a week-long trip aboard their trailerable sailboat.

Picking up some wheels at the Provision Company

The group wrapped up the night over margaritas and some “Bimini Ring on a String” at Oriental Marina’s Tiki Bar. From there, we headed home to get some rest and prepare for a long day of crossing the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke, an island accessible only by boat, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Matt taking his turn at “Bimini Ring on a String”


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