We needed to make another trip up north so we decided to leave the boat in New Bern, NC. The marina was reasonably priced and it was a town we hadn’t seen before (but we had heard good things about). Win-win.
So after our two days at the Oriental free docks we cast off the lines and headed up the Neuse River to New Bern. We had great conditions for sailing and thoroughly enjoyed traveling without the engine as we made our way 22 nautical miles up river. I can see why so many sailors settle in the area.
New Bern lived up to its reputation. It was one of the prettiest downtown areas we had seen. There were extremely well-kept homes and churches in the historical district everywhere we turned, along with an abundance of independent shops.
We did a few self-guided walking tours and will certainly spend some time poking in the shops and restaurants on another trip post-Covid. It definitely made the cut as a place we could see ourselves living someday, and while it’s a bit of a detour from the ICW, we wouldn’t hesitate to stop there again in the future.
Once we had finished our road travels (over 1,700 miles in a week – ugh), it was time to keep heading south. We continued to have fantastic weather and we even sailed for several hours down Bogue Sound once we left the anchorage by Morehead City – amazing! With the exception of a four night delay in Carolina Beach (where we took advantage of the stop and got our flu shots at a local CVS), we made quick work down the coast.
Although a far-away storm had the ocean rowdy enough to keep thwarting our intentions to head outside, once we left Carolina Beach we knocked out the miles until we found ourselves in our favorite spot – Beaufort, SC – less than a week later. This was 2 ½ weeks earlier than last year, and six weeks earlier than our first trip south. While it’s a roll of the dice with hurricanes, the weather is SO much better earlier in the season. We will absolutely do it this way again from now on. Not being cold, not having so many bad weather delays, and having more daylight is absolutely worth the risk.
This was the first time in four stops that we had successfully anchored in Beaufort. The first time we felt that Factory Creek was too narrow given the depths. We thought we would have to let out a TON of chain and rode, so we grabbed a mooring ball instead (which turned out to be a bad idea). Our friends on S/V Minx subsequently taught us that you don’t need as much scope when you have a lot of depth, but the second time we went down we felt the anchorage was too crowded, and the third time we splurged on a marina. This time the anchorage had a lot more space, and armed with more experience we easily found a spot, saving quite a bit of money.
From Beaufort we really wanted to head outside to Cumberland Island, or perhaps farther. We knew we had a window to go to Cumberland two days after we arrived, but unfortunately we had already made arrangements to have our mail forwarded to the local UPS Store, and our absentee ballots were in that package. There was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to vote, so that meant passing up the weather window.
What we didn’t realize at the time was that it would be close to a week before another one opened up. A series of weather systems began dropping down from the north, bringing high winds and eventually cold temperatures with it. Going inside wasn’t even really an option for us, because the sounds in Georgia get pretty snotty in those conditions. We’ve taken those lessons to heart!
It was all good, though. Every time we stop here I don’t want to leave. It is absolutely our number one favorite spot on the entire ICW, and someplace I wouldn’t hesitate to move to in the future. Spending ten nights in Beaufort wasn’t exactly a hardship. We had tomato pie, bought chocolates from The Chocolate Tree, and had sweet tea floats from Scout. We stopped at the local yarn shop, the butcher, the package store, and Publix several times. And mailed our absentee ballots via overnight mail of course!
Finally after waiting sort-of patiently, a window opened up. It was time to head outside! Yes!