Old Codger and I have been re-writing some of our adventures using descriptions rather than pictures to tell the story. He especially wanted to have y'all read this one. (I have no idea why the print is in two different sizes. It is not written that way!)
Old Codger Visits the Coast
Just in case you've not read any Old Codger stories, let me introduce myself. I’m an old codger living in the mountains of North Carolina. I built my boat Old Codger to explore the bigger lakes in the Appalachian area. He's a modified 15 foot Jessy 15 design by B&B Yacht Designs, He has a comfy cabin, just big enough for me to sleep in. Old Codger has been bugging me to take him to where his roots started from. I began building boats to accompany me in my adventures while I was living on the coast of North Carolina. To be more exact, the Core Sound, Neuse River, and Pamlico River, especially the Beaufort area. Before we go any farther, I’d better explain that there is also a Beaufort in South Carolina. NEVER confuse them with each other. Here’s what you need to know. The Beaufort we’re talking about is pronounced “BO-fort”. The other one is called “BEW-fort”. So, now you know this important factoid and we can carry on with our essay.
Several years ago, we had moved from where we lived near Beaufort to the mountains of North Carolina. I have been really missing my “home waters” and wanted to travel back for a visit. The plan was to trailer Codger to my favorite boat launch access area in Beaufort. It is a roomy ramp located on Taylor Creek, across from Carrot Island. I like it because it is convenient to reach and launch from, and is safe place to leave the truck and trailer overnight in the spacious parking area. After an eight hour drive, I was tired and anxious to get to Beaufort, launch Old Codger, and cruise to my anchorage for the night. But, what’s this? The ramp is closed for maintenance! I asked a workman what was going on and he told me that they had just begun repaving the ramp and that it would be closed for the next two weeks. Good grief! I’ve been away for six years, and just happened to plan my trip at the exact time it was closed.
All I could do was go to another ramp. After considering the alternatives, I decided on the one on Harker’s Island. It’s not as nice, and there is no bathroom, it is much smaller, and can be very crowded. It is about fifteen miles away, but easy enough to get to. As it turns out, there was no one else launching when we first pulled in. I got Codger ready and backed down the ramp. About that time, several trucks pulled into the parking lot with a variety of boats. I hurriedly launched the Codger and tied him to the dock while I parked the truck and trailer. I rushed back, climbed aboard, and started my mighty twenty horse power Tohatsu motor, logically named ”Mr. Hatsu”. (What else!) Just as I was releasing the dock lines, I heard another rig backing down the ramp. Suddenly I heard and felt a BANG! Unbelievably, the boat that was being launched had slid off of the trailer and drifted right into us. His motor cowling had bumped into our anchor which is stored on a bowsprit. No damage to us, but a big scratch on the other boat’s cowling. The owner waved sheepishly at us, and I waved back with a big grin.
It’s really rough out today. We motor slowly along the channel in front of Harker’s Island on our way out to Cape Lookout where I’ll spend the night. We’ll tuck in behind the spoil islands between Harker’s and the cape. These spoil islands were created from what was dredged up when they dug the channel that cuts through the shallows between Harker's Island and the outer banks. The wind is blowing straight down the Core Sound, and into Back Sound, today, and the islands provide some protection. I’m on the wrong side of the islands from the channel, but it’s almost high tide, so it should be safe. Finally we reach the anchorage in Lookout Bight. I’ll have to anchor on the eastern side rather than the side along the channel behind the usual anchorage because of the wind-blown waves blowing across the bight. I anchor in shallow water protected by Core Banks. By the time I’ve settled in and heated up my can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti, the Sun is setting. My faithful reader may have figured out by now that I really enjoy sunsets, and have to take a picture of every one. But, sorry, I can't show them to you here. You'll just have to travel to the coast and take your own pictures.
Next morning, I’d planned to cruise up the Sound to see the sights I used to enjoy years ago, but the wind was still blowing 15 to 20, too much for Old Codger to navigate the steep chop that builds up in Core Sound, so I went the other way. Maybe I’ll just explore the Beaufort and Morehead City waterfronts. On the way, I’ll get some pictures. You'd enjoy the one of the Cape Lookout lighthouse, with it''s black and white spiraling color scheme. All of the lighthouses up and down the coast have different paint schemes. I’ll just have to state right here that I’ve missed the “salt life”, but didn’t realize how much until now. It certainly does feel good to be “home”. Come along and I’ll tell you about some of the sights.
Here is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse that I just told you about. Next to it is the chief light keeper’s home. It is a big two story white house with black shutters, facing the water, and has a full length covered porch. There are brick chimneys at each end. No one lives there anymore. These days, it is the park service head quarters for the area. There originally was another house for the assistant light keeper, long gone now. The light is automated. The park ranger’s office looks empty now. I’d get out and check, but the wind and current keeps me from pulling on shore. To the right of the house, and closer to the water is a little white building. It's the kitchen that remains from the days that the light keeper and his family lived here. Back in the days of wood burning stoves, the kitchen was always separated from the main house to prevent an accidental fire from burning the living quarters. Since the last time I was here, the shore has been washed away and is much closer to the kitchen.
As we follow the shore around the back side of the banks, we see a long dock leading to an assorted collection of buildings. Some are camping cabins built by the park service, some are old houses that remain from the days that folks lived and worked on the outer banks. Farther in, there is a large structure that was once a Coast Guard station. It's well away from the water. I wonder about that. Was the shore line closer back when it was an active station? It is only used for storage now.
Next comes the old life saving station, now abandoned. One building is collapsed into a pile of rubble. A long dock leads out from the buildings of the station. I should explain that Lookout Bight is very shallow except for the channel. The docks have to be long enough to reach water deep enough to be able to get a boat up to the dock at low tide. From the dock, there is a road, Cape Lookout Road, that leads into the island, first passing the old Coast Guard Station, and then several homes that were once part of Cape City. Maybe that isn't the correct name, but a ranger once told me that it was. There once was a settlement in this part of the banks called Diamond City. In 1899, a hurricane struck the banks, and through the settlement.
There were about 500 residents living here at the time the hurricane came through and destroyed much of the village. The last of the residents had left by 1902. Many loaded there houses onto barges if they were small enough, or disassembled the larger ones to load them, and took their house with them, relocating them to nearby places such as Harker's Island, Salter Path, and Morehead City. You can still see those relocated houses today if you know where to look. I've been told that the cemetery still remains on the island, hidden among the sand dunes. I'd love to explore it. Maybe Codger will bring me back here some day to do just that. Actually, there are several cemeteries on the banks, left from the days when whaling was a major industry here, and villages were scattered all up and down the outer banks.
We stay in the channel as we continue our journey. We notice one of the channel marker buoys as we pass it. Old #2 is leaning way over in the wind and current. It’s pretty choppy in the channel, but with the sand bars just below the surface, I’d rather be safe and follow the channel. Old Codger heartily agrees!
Now we’ve gone out through Barden Inlet and are passing along the shore outside of Shackleford Bank, called just “Shack” by the locals. Barden inlet didn’t used to be here at all. The banks had been unbroken until the inlet was created by a hurricane in 1933. Barden Inlet is one of the best passes from the Atlantic into the sound. We’ll remain near shore all the way down to Beaufort Inlet, which enters the sound directly across from the town of Beaufort. The banks are protecting us from the offshore wind. Usually, there is a sea-breeze blowing ashore, making the channel behind the banks the calmest route.
The shrimper fleet is out today. There are at least twenty trawlers in view. They must be hauling in a good catch. The seagulls are enjoying the catch, too! There is a large flock of them wheeling around the sky, just behind each trawler. Another large group are sitting on the beach. These guys are either awaiting their turn, or are digesting what they’ve already feasted on. Some are flying above the beach, diving at others that are carrying a morsel in their beaks. All are hollering “MINE-MINE!” Seagulls are very greedy and vociferous. Here's an interesting tid-bit. A bunch of seagulls is correctly called a “colony”. WAIT, before you jump all over me, I know that the term most often used is “flock”. Some would argue that it is a colony when they gather to nest, but a flock the rest of the time. Call 'em what you want. A few happy pelicans have joined the crowd on the beach. “Behold the pelican, his bill holds more that his belly can.”
Now we’re entering into Beaufort Inlet. We pass a line of lights mounted high on towers. These are range lights. Ships coming in from the ocean line up the lights to help them remain in the shipping channel. As we sight along the line of towers, we see a large white building covered with windows, and topped by a red tile roof. The building is the Olde Towne Yacht Club. We’ll see it closer later when we visit the creek next to it. Beaufort inlet can be treacherous under certain conditions. Just after we moved here twenty years ago, a thirty foot fishing boat had been rolled over in the channel while trying to pass through the surf zone with an onshore breeze meeting the out-flowing current. Several people drowned in the accident. But the pass is behaving itself today.
As we approach the Beaufort waterfront, we’re passed by one of the ferries that take folks out to Shackleford bank. It is a large pontoon boat and looks to be at least twenty five or thirty feet long. There is an aluminum canopy supported on poles extending up from a railing that surrounds the boat, and covering rows of seats. On the back are twin monster outboard motors. The ferry is empty now. It has dropped off a load of tourists on Shack for an afternoon outing, and will come back for them later.
We’ve turned into the channel leading to the Beaufort waterfront. The channel splits, with one branch leading into Beaufort, and the other branch passing the Morehead Shipping Port and the Morehead waterfront before continuing on down the Intracoastal waterway. Today, we’ll be traveling up Taylor Creek along the Beaufort waterfront. On the other side of the creek is Carrot Island. I'll tell you more about the island in a bit.
“Beaufort is a town in Carteret County, North Carolina, and is the county seat. Established in 1709 and incorporated in 1723, Beaufort is the third-oldest town in North Carolina. On February 1, 2012, Beaufort was ranked as ‘America's Coolest Small Town’ by readers of Budget Travel Magazine.” (quoted from Wikipedia)
If we had come south on the ICW, we would have passed through the Adams Creek Canal, out the Newport River, and under a high bridge before either passing by the port, or out into the Atlantic. Coming that way, we would have passed under a high bridge, and turned to port and proceeded on up Taylor's Creek. Folks around here call these high bridges “high rises”. Makes sense. After we see what there is to see along the Beaufort waterfront, we will return to explore in this direction.
The first interesting structure we pass is the Beaufort Maritime Museum. If you can ever visit the area, be sure to stop off here. There is a large collection of historical boats from this area, and many informative displays about the whaling and fishing industry that developed here. There is even a display of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the ship Queen Ann's Revenge, the pirate Blackbeard's flagship that he purposely wrecked and abandoned in Topsail Inlet, now called Beaufort Inlet, in 1718.
Blackbeard the pirate often visited the area. His ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge was intentionally sunk at the entrance to Beaufort inlet. He had transferred his “booty” to another boat, the sloop, Adventure, and leaving most of his pirate crew behind, escaped with his most trusted pirate buddies to Ocracoke Inlet where he met his end at the sword of Lieutenant Maynard of the Royal Navy, who had been dispatched by Governor Spotswood of Virginia with the assignment of either capturing or killing the notorious pirate. It’s a fascinating story. Look it up when you get a chance. While you’re at it, find a copy of the book The Last Days of Blackbeard the Pirate by Kevin P. Duffus. Duffus has a theory that Blackbeard actually came from a family that lived in Bath, North Carolina. He has thoroughly researched all that is known of Blackbeard and does a good job supporting his theory.
Secured to the dock near the museum is an interesting boat named “Pirate’s Revenge”. It is probably about thirty-five feet long, has a traditional looking black, flush-decked hull, with a single pole mast sticking up. The intent is to mimic Queen Ann's Revenge. It is one of several boats that offer various kinds of local cruises. They give local history during harbor cruises, sunset cruises, dinner cruises, and others. I've never taken one of them. Old Codger and I like to do our own little cruises.
Now we pass a pair of big barges sinking pilings for a new dock. One barge carries a big yellow crane with tank-like tracks. The crane lifts the pilings off the barge, and sets them vertically next to it. It then pounds them into the layers of mud and sand on the creek bottom. The other barge is the tug that pushes the one with the crane. This one is outboard powered with twin big bore Yamaha motors. It sports a tower-like arrangement, open underneath, with a steering station on top. It;s high enough that the helmsman can see ahead over the one he's pushing. You often see these rigs traveling from work site to worksite along the waterway.
You have to be careful when you anchor along Carrot Island. The water is shallow close to shore. We pass a large fiberglass cruising sloop laying over at a forty-five degree angle in the shallow water, with the curve of the bilge hard against the bottom and the keel exposed. This poor fellow found out the hard way.
Carrot Island is also home to the Rachael Carson Preserve. Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. In the past, I've canoed through shallow cuts across the inland, and walked the shores. There is lots of wildlife to see her, both on the island, and in the water.
There is a large colony of diamond back terrapins inhabiting the shallow waters on the other side of Carrot Island. They are a species of salt and brackish water turtle living in tidal areas around the southern United States. One day I picked up several to look at. They are protected by law, so never take one home with you. Back in the colonial period into the early 1900s, they were almost hunted to extinction by the food industry. They were considered a delicacy and were popular in gourmet restaurants around the world. Today, they are still in danger from poachers for the pet trade, loss of habitat, pollution, and from getting caught in crab traps and drowning, and nets from commercial fishing industry.
Just coming into view on the port side is the NC Wildlife Boating Access I had intended to use. I see a lot of equipment parked in the large, paved parking area above the twin, double boat ramps. Several workmen are standing around talking together and surveying the job site. There are stacks of concrete blocks and other building materials at the entrance to the actual ramps. Finger piers jut out on either side of the ramps, and down the center dividing the ramps. The access area is reached on land from the Lennoxville Rd. You turn off before the road goes to Lennoxville point, where the road ends at the North River. Directly across the river from the point, is Harker's Island. When we launch at the Beaufort ramp, we usually head on north, passing Harker's Island, but we won't go much further north on this outing.
Next to the ramp is a giant marina complex. Only a few years ago, this was the site of a fish packing plant with docks for the menhaden fishing fleet. These boats are sometimes called “pogey boats”. They are all gone now from the Beaufort area. As we pass the marina, we continue a short way past a waterfront residential area, before coming to the end of Carrot Island. It is being slowly washed away at this end. The outer banks are moving south as sand is washed from one end and deposited at the other. It is a constant war between mankind and the elements.
We turn around and head back the way we came. On the shore we see a long-legged fellow watching us pass as we retrace our path back down Taylor Creek. He is a large, white egret. We see a collection of these guys, along with great blue herons, sea gulls, pelicans, ospreys, sand pipers, and more, every time we are on the water. I had hoped to see the wild horses that have made their home on the island. They live on this and other islands of the outer banks, and it is said that they are descended from horses brought ashore by Spanish explorers of the New World more than 500 years ago. But today, w don't see any. I know they are there, but must be hiding back among he trees.
I take time for my fancy lunch while we drift along with the out-flowing tidal current that flows swiftly down the sound and through Taylor Creek. Vienna sausage, cheese balls, homemade cookies, and Real Southern Sweet Tea. Be sure to read my carefully researched stories about The True History of Vienna Sausage and Real Southern Sweet Tea. As I eat my lunch, I'm hoping my feet aren't getting sunburned. Unless it’s too cold, I always go shoeless while I’m on the boat.
Further on, we pass again through the anchorage along the creek. There aren’t many boats here today, but during cruising season, it’s packed. To port, in the creek near shore on the Carrot Island side,is the tower that is the last of the range lights I told you about awhile ago. Near by, on the beach, is a group of school kids on a field trip. I never got to do anything this much fun back when I went to school at Glen Oak Elementary back down in good ol’ St. Pete. Pulled up on shore is their transportation. It is a big Carolina Skiff. It sure would be fun to drive one of these tour boats for a living.
We’ve now turned into the channel past Pivers Island. We pass close by the Duke University Marine Lab, and the NOAA Beaufort Lab.
Rather than heading under the high rise bridge and voyaging up the ICU towards Adams Creek, we’ll turn back and pass the North Carolina Port. As we pass radio Island, we poke in close to shore to look at a gaggle of commercial fishing boats. In the background is the Hwy 70 bridge from Morehead City to Beaufort. There is big trawler “on the ways”, being rebuilt. We’ll pass under the Pivers Island Bridge and head towards Radio Island. It's a low bridge, but Old Codger scootches down and passes safely under it. There is the the “Olde Towne Yacht Club” that we saw from a distance as we were entering Beaufort Inlet.
There are several sea gulls sitting on the pilings in front of the yacht club, like beady-eyed sentinels guarding the creek that used to be lined with thriving boat yards. Let’s see what remains. It all looks to be in a state of decay. The last time I was here, this was a busy area. But now, buildings have been torn down and the land is being cleared and leveled. There is still a little being accomplished here, but the end is near. There is one large trawler laying on it's side in the shallow water near the shore. This one appears to be way beyond repair. Modern development is slowly taking over. “Out with the old, in with the new”.
We’ve come back out of the creek and are heading into the basin where the ships come in from the ocean. Over on the port side is the Coast Guard Station at Fort Macon. The first ship we see is a buoy tender. It's a big, black ship, with the red and white diagonal stripe painted on the bow, and USCG emblem emblazoned on the stripe. Down the side of the hull, in white letters is lettered “US COAST GUARD”. On the fore deck are several bouys, and the derrick arrangement used to lift them into the water. Farther down the station docks, a couple of cutters are tied to the dock. They are white with the same diagonal on stripe and emblem on the bows.
We notice a piling with a white sign attached to it, with the words “DANGER”, and something we can't read in small letters below that. A pair of cormorants are perched in the piling warning us to stay away. S,ome “Coasties” are doing exercises today in the harbor. They are blasting around in a big orange, with a longitudinal black stripe, RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat). For y'all that don't know, these are a fiberglass hull flanked by large inflated “air tubes”. The design is stable, light, fast and seaworthy. The inflated collar acts as a “life jacket”, ensuring that the vessel retains its buoyancy, even if the boat is taking on water.
We leave the cormorants and Coasties behind and head for the North Carolina State Port. To the north of the port is the high rise bridge that Hwy 70 crosses from Morehead City to Radio Island, and then on down past Beaufort. By-the-way, I mean no disrespect for the fine men and women serving in the US Coast Guard. “'Coasties' is more of a “term of endearment” that folks around here use when talking about them.
Now we are approaching the actual port. The first ship we come to is a giant, red cargo ship with hatches covering the cargo wells spreading down most of the length of the deck. A cabin and bridge towers high above the deck at the aft end. The ship is discharging water ballast in preparation for loading. The cargo will be phosphate from the phosphate mines a little farther up the coast in Aurora NC. But now she is riding high in the water with several feet of bottom paint exposed.
The next ship is another cargo ship about like the first one, but painted a grey color. We pass by just behind the stern and notice a pair of orange motorized life boats supported on launching rails---or whatever they should be called--- flanking the aft deck house. Painted across the transom is the name and home port. “YILDIZLAR 2”, Istanbul. Ships come from a long way just to carry on business at the port. Just down the seawall surrounding the loading area are a pair of harbor tugs, taking a well-earned rest.
Just beyond them is yet another red ship in the process of being loaded with more phosphate oar. I wonder if there is a reason for painting many of these ships red? It is surrounded by great, hulking cranes on the dock side, and on barges on the other side. The ore is transported from the mines to the port by railway. As we pass behind this ship, we are shocked to see a lifeboat hanging over the stern. It is in the launching device, pointing straight towards the rear, and suspended out over the water. What's more, it is angled down at a forty five degree angle! The launch would be VERY exciting. But what a shock when it hits the water. HANG ON TIGHT!
Leaving the port, we come next to the Morehead City waterfront. We pass behind Sugarloaf Island that protects the waterfront from the storm surges and violent waves that can be blown up in the harbor. Stores and restaurants line all along the waterfront. First comes a big, white, multi-storied condo building. There is a docking area, with a piling, with the ubiquitous cormorant guarding the “gated entrance – no street access” sign, whatever that means. No gates here. And obviously, no street access from the water, either! Across the channel that passes along the waterfront, we spy a dock and path that leads directly into the trees covering Sugarloaf Island. Guess I’d better see where it goes.
When we tied up at the dock, we were met by a seagull with a damaged wing. I could go right up to him and he didn’t seem to be afraid. I hope he’s able to find food. I expect he will. The dock is directly in front of the Morehead waterfront restaurants. Plenty of food scraps wind up in the water.
I'll have to leave Old Codger waiting not so patiently at the dock. He hates it when I go off exploring without him. A trail leads back into the dark and mysterious bowels of the island. Trees crowd all along the trail and overhang the well trodden path. I follow it well into the depths of the island. Soon, the trail splits and goes both ways towards the north and south ends of the island. The left goes a short distance and ends at some campsites. The other direction gets to the south end of the island and overlooks the ICW.
Scattered around a cleared sandy area at the end of the south trail, are little buildings that turn out to be toilets. Why in the world are they here? Is this a “bathroom community” for the campsites at the other end of the island? That doesn't seem reasonable—they are too far away. Maybe there used to be a camping area here. The roof has blown off of one of the toilets at some time in the past. I've got a serious question. How does the “honey wagon” get here to pump them out? A short distance away stands a metal storage unit. I wonder what’s in there? There are large groups of cactus plants all over around the cleared area. They seem to grow in rows. I haven't seen them anywhere else. Did someone plant them here? Well, the mysteries will just have to remain. I take a final look around before meandering back up the trail to the dock. Old Codger is probably getting anxious.
Back aboard, we motor slowly along the Morehead waterfront on our way back north. We pass one of the restaurants. It’s lunch time. Smells good! We pass another huge work barge with a monster crane towering high above piles of equipment and construction materials scattered all around the deck. It is being shoved by it's accompanying tug, heading for a construction job somewhere on the waterfront. We fall in behind and tag along as it continues up the Intracoastal waterway northward into the Newport river.
We take one last look south on the ICW. There’s the “high rise” across from the mainland to Emerald Isle on the outer banks. Our route takes us around the tip of Radio Island. There are giant concrete ramps descending into the water, and a number of big, black mooring buoys just out from them. I used to wonder what this was. It is all the way at the extreme end of Radio Island. At first I thought it was some kind of sea plane ramp, Then one day I saw a big LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) pulled up there. As I watched, a whole mess of families piled aboard, then it fired up its engines and headed out the pass. I followed and discovered that it was taking families to visit their marines on an even bigger ocean going assault ship that carries the LCACs to be deployed at their destination. Truly an awesome sight!
Now we’ve rounded the bend and gone under the Hwy 70 high rise, and into the Newport River. Much of the river is very shallow and there are “pound nets” all over outside of the channel. Today, we see some men tending the nets from two big, open skiffs. Next we pass an unusual and interesting duck hunting blind on floats anchored in the flats. It is topped by a little shack-like shed, patched together from pieces of unpainted plywood. One side is open, with a “duck blind” woven from dried-up palm fronds.
As we enter Adams Creek where the ICW crosses land on its way to the Neuse River, we pass a couple of big marinas. True World Marine and Beaufort Marine Center. Large powerboats and yachts crowd the land and waterfront.
There had been another pass between the Newport and Neuse Rivers way back before the ICW. It was a little farther up the Newport and is called the Harlow Canal. It was originally dug by the native Indians so they could pass through with their canoes. Then, before the civil war, it was dug out deeper and wider by slaves so that boats could be pulled through by horses that would walk on a path beside the canal. It is still passable by small boats. I had been through the canal back when I lived here. If you look carefully, you can still see the rotting remains of loading wharfs projecting from the banks. These were for lumber camps back in the days when the area was famous the world over for its naval stores. These were products such as lumber, tar, and turpentine that was distilled from the sap of the long leaf pine trees that were grown on the numerous plantations that existed before the war. Two things brought an end to the naval stores industry shortly after the war. The advent of iron as a ship building material, and steam power replacing sail. The many plantations were deserted when the owners moved north. There is an annual non-powered boat race that goes through the canal. Kayaks and rowing craft can pass under the Hwy 101 bridge, and another bridge that cross the canal, but sailboats have to lower their masts to get under them.
We'll pass underneath the Hwy 101 bridge, and go a little way past it and then turn back. It’s getting close to time to anchor for the night. We’ll be heading home tomorrow morning, so we need to be fairly close to the ramp when we anchor. Brock Marine is another big boat yard at the foot of the bridge. Folks are allowed to work on their own boats in this marina. We have to wait for Miss Kayden to go under the bridge. She’s got to be the prettiest trawler I’ve ever seen. Her hull is painted in tones of light and dark blue, and she sports a gleaming white deck house, tower, and long out-riggers on either side.
As qw pass on out of the canal, we get a typical view of the homes along the banks of Adams Creek. We’re used to the giant houses on the shores of the lakes up where we cruise in the mountains. Down here, the homes are owned mostly by good ol’ fisher folks, and are modestly sized, but everything is neat and clean looking. I'm heading back out into the Newport River now. Next stop, our snug little cove for the night.
It's supper time. We tuck into a secluded looking little cove, and anchor for the night. This is typical for us. Old Codger loves this time of night, too. He's been working hard all day, ferrying me around.. As usual, I just pop open a can of “sketti”, Beefaroni, or maybe even beef stew. I tried to actually cook once. I first put on a pan of water to boil before adding the ingredients, but burned the water. I do love my little one burner propane stove. Just right to heat my can of whatever I brought along for supper.
I especially do love the Sunsets over the water. This one tonight was a bit unusual. There is a bright splash of intense white light showing in the clouds to the right of the actual Sunset. As I watch, a shaft of multi-colored light fades up through the clouds. It almost looks like a section of rainbow showing through the cloud cover. I’m glad I was here to see it.
There is another beautiful picture that greeted me when I woke up next morning. The Sun is just beginning to light up the sky for the day. Not as pretty as the Sunset, but still very majestic. To the right are the lights of the hangers at Michael J. Smith Field, which is the little airport in Beaufort. Originally, we were going to spend another day traveling up to Cedar Island, but conditions prevented it. I have decided to head back home a day early. Codger had seen about all I wanted him to see this trip. We’ll have to save that for next summer. At least I hope to make it back here for a warm weather cruise.
Before leaving, I want to tell you about a rather exciting thing that happened during the night. I was awakened by a terrifying noise emanating from somewhere close by! It sounded like it was coming from all around me! I hastily struggled out of my cozy sleeping bag to see if some monstrous thing was coming to crush my little craft. I looked all around but couldn’t see anything. The roaring noise now seemed to be coming from the shore side. As I turned to look that way, I caught sight of the silhouettes of two large military style helicopters landing in front of the lights of the airport. For some reason unknown to me, they were not displaying any kind of lights. They remained there for a few minutes with their turbine engines still wound up, then they took off together, still with no lights aboard, and headed off to the north.
But now, “Good morning, Glory!” We're greeted by Mr. Sun in all his glory! He's just peeking up above the horizon. A tinge of red is reflecting in the clouds close to the ground in the distance. There is a saying among boating folks, “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night, sailor delight.” But today promises to be a fine, clear day. I guess I’ve gotten carried away with these Sunset and sunrise descriptions, but they sure are “purty”. (Southern for “pretty”, y’all.)
After a quick breakfast, we quickly up-anchored and motored around through the Highway 70 bridge and back into Taylor Creek. Once again, we pass the last range light that I told you about as we came through the inlet yesterday. As we pass through the length of Taylor Creek,we are all alone. We've beaten the crowd that will flood into Beaufort as the morning develops. I'm sure that the fisher folk have been up and gone long ago.
With that, I’ll leave you as we make our way back to the boat ramp that we left just a couple short days ago, and head back home to Hendersonville. I hope that you’ve enjoyed our little visit to the coast. I know that Old Codger and I did. We'll look forward to having you join us on our next adventure.