Monday, November 04, 2013

Beaufort - First Impressions

[Kyle]We had basically the same six unwelcome wake up calls as the previous day. There would be a gust, the anchor alarm would go off, and then one of us would have to get up and see if we really were dragging. It’s hard to tell at night while squinting through rain-spattered windows if the various lights are changing position relative to one another, so it was always necessary to stay up a while and study the situation.

When we finally had finished a cumulative approximation of a full night’s sleep, we arose to find that the weather was just slightly better than forecast. The wind was less and it was hardly raining at all. We decided the time had come to finally go ashore.

Beaufort was surprising. Although most southbound boats passing through are on just another stop on their way to Florida or possibly the Bahamas, almost all of the boats headed offshore to the eastern Caribbean stop here as their last port in the U.S., having gone through the ICW in order to avoid the dangers of Cape Hatteras, which is very dangerous indeed. Because of this, I had expected Beaufort to be more of a nautical town. There was a free dinghy dock for transients, but so far we've found few obvious cruiser (or any boater) facilities (chandleries, sail lofts, etc). There are town docks, but this is just a friendly name for a pricey marina rather than providing general (anchored boat facilities), i.e. charging crazy prices for dockage on an overnight basis with showers and tantalizing WIFI for paying customers only.

{Maryanne: My biggest surprise regarding Beaufort is its size; I'd expected a much bigger town, but it is a small, and rather quaint, waterfront town with a beautiful rural feel to it (helped by the stunning sandy spits just across the creek).}

Instead, the town seems set up to cater to the many car tourists who stop in on their tours of the Outer Banks. The waterfront, which is most of the town, is very pretty and has the usual assortment of art galleries, bars and little stores selling nautically themed kitsch. You can’t buy rope here, but you can get a cheaply made Greek fisherman’s cap or a little wooden sailboat for your study that has “Beaufort, NC” on the sails.

We thought there would be more to the town than we could see from the boat, so we were surprised to be finished seeing the entire business district in twenty minutes. We headed away from the waterfront hoping to find more, but found only houses, so we circled back to where we started.

We found a bar with upstairs seating on a deck overlooking Begonia and had a couple of drinks as well as an uninspiring plate of nachos that was only half a step above stadium grade. Oh, well. We were here for the atmosphere, not the food, and it was a great view.

We wandered around a bit more and found a couple more interesting looking pubs for another time. Passing the last, a place called Clawson’s, they sucked us in with a free tasting of local North Carolina IPA beers by Oskar Blues Brewery. Maryanne went to the table and was handed a tray of six varieties in four ounce sample cups. I was intending to walk away and share hers when the guy handed me my own tray. Well, fine!

I’m sorry to say this, but they were all pretty awful; I guess we are not really IPA fans. Maryanne found one she liked. I found a different variety to be tolerable in the four-ounce quantity. Had I ordered a full one from the bar out of curiosity, I would not have asked for a second round. The bar was nice, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find us in again having a different drink.

As a topper for the evening, we stopped at a local store just before closing time and picked up a pint of ice cream for dessert and took it back to the boat. It was just reaching the perfect level of softness when we broke out the spoons.

Stunning sunsets from anchor in Beaufort

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