Meeting the Towboat US rep in Beaufort
26 October 2006 | Beaufort NC
Today brought with it another first... a good grounding!
We left Cedar Creek this morning motoring (the ICW is too narrow to sail) down to Beaufort. Just a few miles above Beaufort the canal empties into the Newport River which is a mile or so wide, but with just a couple of narrow channels for navigation.
Our cruising guide said that one of the channels, Gallants Cut, had silted over, so take the Big Slough Channel to go into Beaufort. The trouble was, neither channel was marked on the chart by name. But we thought we had it figured out... Wrong!
We were quietly motoring in when we hit a mud bank at 5.5 knots. There was no damage, but after a few attempts to get ourselves off, it was obvious that we were stuck fast. When planning our trip, I long ago heard about the frequency with which groundings occur, I bought an Unlimited Towing Package for around $100 from Boat US, through the Boat US boating association. So a quick call, and we were off in 15 minutes. The boat operator then accompanied us into Beaufort, where we went through the paperwork. When we finished, I signed the invoice, and they were billing Boat US $646 for the tow. He said that if we didn't have the insurance, our bill would have been closer to $1,000! Quite a deal!!
Then we began the anchoring dance in the very narrow harbor. It is also subject to strong tidal currents running up and down. We tried 3 spots, a couple of them twice, before we were finally anchored, and then we were probably further in the channel than we should have been, however by this time we were fed up, and just set two anchors, Bahamian style, (one in each direction the current would run), and went ashore to explore.
Beaufort is a very pretty town, but its waterfront, to which we were confined without bikes, is mostly just cafes and tourist shops. We bought a few postcards, found a small shop with a few basics, and dinghied back to the boat. We chatted with a few boats on the way out, one we followed until we ran aground, and another Bristol very similar to ourselves. And with a quick run ashore on Bird Island to be quickly chased off by the wild horses, we retreated to the boat for SGT (sundown gin & tonics) and dinner of grilled Mahi-Mahi in a nice Mediterranean marinade with a Greek salad and a nice cold Pinot Gris.
The forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is bad... gale force winds and rain. We are heading back up the ICW to be in New Berne for me to fly out to Toronto on Monday, so will sail (or motor) back up to Clubfoot Creek to ride out the storm. Then on Sunday we will head up to New Berne.
The photo is of the wild horses on the beach.