We had a successful first leg north from the Bahamas covering some 480 miles in 82 hours to Beaufort, NC. We generally had gentle 10-12 knot winds on the stern allowing us to carry full sail for the first two and half days. We managed to miss the counter currents from the gulf stream and when the wind lulled we burned a whopping 8 gallons of fuel on the trip. The final stretch saw higher winds of 20-25 knots on a broad reaching allowing us get to full speed with one reef in the main.
As we approached the Beaufort inlet channel shortly after sunset we clearly saw the familiar flash of the fairway buoy followed by the line of red and green marking the several mile long approach. We were a bit nervous as we had 4-6 foot waves pushing us in. In addition we had been listening to the rescue efforts on the VHF for a boat that ran aground on a shoal west of the channel that the tow boats were still working on freeing as we passed by, with the passengers having been rescued several hours earlier. As we were partway down the channel the coast guard made a general announcement that all aids to navigation in North Carolina may be unreliable following tropical storm Ana. The inlet channel on all 3 charts showed it as straight line channel, so we were a bit surprised when the buoys dog-legged just outside the inlet. We followed the dog-leg to stay between the buoys and shortly there after we safely anchored behind the sand bar for the night. I later checked the charts in the local book store which also, do not show the dog leg on the approach so it is unclear if the channel had been moved temporarily due to shoaling.
The next morning we called the Beaufort Docks to request a slip so we could spend a day exploring after checking in with customs. The phone lines were busy most of the morning, but I finally got through and by the time I was finishing the phone in procedure the officers were boarding the boat to check our documents. They were back and forth along the docks for a good portion of the day as we were far from the only boat arriving from the Bahamas.
Here is Altera parked next to a beautiful Hinkley. They had to upgrade us to the big docks after we ran aground twice trying to get into their smaller basin, so we are in the good neighbourhood.
Our view from our boat of the dock house restaurant. We enjoyed dinner there with live music last night.
Downtown Beaufort is a nice little town. While we hadn’t planned on shopping I found a t-shirt I couldn’t resist and the first pair of decent sandals that I found since I started looking in St. Thomas.
We are preparing to leave soon for our next leg as we have settled weather forecast to round Cape Hatteras. This will allow us to make quicker progress north than we would by following the ICW. Unfortunately I think this leg will involve a bit more diesel than the last leg, but after watching a power boat opposite us take on more diesel than we have used since leaving Hampton last fall (and only enough to carry his boat 125 miles) I am less concerned.