We got up and going not too early, looking to cast off the dock at Homer Smith’s Marina in Beaufort NC by 9:30ish. Our plan was a relatively short cruising day to a quiet anchorage in Broad Creek. With the wind trying to blow our stern onto the dock, we needed to cast off quickly. In her haste to accomplish this, Kathleen went a little too quickly, the center stern line was still tied to the dock – that makes it difficult to depart. Neil confirmed this …
Luckily, the mistake was caught before any damage was done (Kathleen has noticed that she seems to be responsible for an inordinate amount of such errors… learning curve is still steep for this one).
Once out in the waterway, we worked together to navigate our way 30 miles up the ICW, using charts, radar and the blessedly wonderful Bob423 track data. North Carolina is so beautiful – so many waterways with pretty homes, as well as unspoiled areas of wilderness.
We entered the Neuse River which is VERY large, at times could not see both shores, and seemed to run forever.
Turning off the river to get into Broad Creek was tricky, as the entry seemed to zigzag for a while – we were wondering if maybe to deter folks from venturing a visit.
Once in, we anchored off the main channel in paradise. It’s been a while since we’ve experienced such silence. Very rarely, a boat would go by, but most of the sounds were contributed by the music of so many beautiful birds. We watched terns diving, Pelicans bombing, Ospreys hunting – and so many just singing. We saw either skates or rays (we couldn’t tell which) feeding at the surface, their wings gently flapping as they floated through the water. Even though we did see some small jellyfish, we couldn’t resist swimming. The water is rust/brown colored, from the tannins (from organic material dissolving in the water), and though we thought it might give our Irish skin a nice suntan tint, no such luck. It was lovely, though, and just cool enough to be refreshing.
Kathleen cooked up the calamari that we had bought in Beaufort in a wonderful garlic-wine-lime sauce, and we ate dinner “al fresco” on the upper deck, marveling at the setting sun.
After dinner, we went back up top to watch the stars come out. Sitting there, watching them unfold, it was easy to think it was a show put on just for us. The night sky was a panoply of star extravaganzas, interspersed with satellites zooming across the sky. After a while, we meandered back to our cabin for that wonderful “vacation” kind of sleep – physically tired and so happy to collapse into bed. It was lovely to be back in an area that cools off from the day’s sweaty heat when the sun sets – we didn’t even need air conditioning.
The next day, we launched the dinghy and took a two hour excursion around the area. There are many “fingers” off of the main creek (which is a misnomer – creeks bring to mind small waterways that you can basically wade across – however, this area is smaller than the Neuse River, thus the “creek” moniker). There are a lot of homes (most raised, not sure if this creek floods), all with docks, most with boats. We even saw a small church.
The sun was hot, and it was fun to switch between scooting along fast in the dinghy and puttering through slow areas checking out the residences. We explored a marina in the area, then, realizing that our skin was reaching its sun-allotment limit, we returned to our boat. After lunch, we both lolled around reading and relaxing, punctuated by jumping in the water to cool off, all the while keeping a sharp eye out for those nasty little jellyfish critters.
Dinner was fried clam strips with cocktail sauce (the last of the fresh seafood from Beaufort…sigh….) and then a sunset cruise around in the dinghy. Returning as the sun was setting, we hoisted the dinghy back up to upper deck and relaxed on the forward deck, contemplating the silence. This type of quiet stills the soul, and we didn’t realize how wonderful it was, how much it had been missed, until we experienced it. We highly recommend it for decompression (especially in the middle of a pandemic and a presidential election year) – this site also had very spotty wifi – which made it all the more special. We definitely hope to return to this little slice of heaven. Did we mention there were no bugs?
So, lessons learned: never forget to make sure all lines are untied from the dock before trying to leave, never forget to find silence in all the noise, never forget to let yourself feel small in the grandeur of the universe, and never forget to feel grateful, even for jellyfish, for such details mark the beauty of being alive.
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