Saturday, May 10, 2014

Beaufort NC, Coolest Town in America

Beaufort, NC is one of those sticky ports. I felt that as soon as I arrived here. I knew I would have a hard time leaving.

Phoenix has been here for almost a month now. But some of that is because I left her here on her own while I took a trip north to take care of family, business and explored some personal choices for my future.

Now it’s time to leave. My plan is to put-put up the Intracoastal Waterway to Norfolk, VA. That should take me about four days. From there, it is about a three-day coastal Atlantic passage to New York city.

I’m looking for crew for that three-day coastal passage from Norfolk to NYC. So if you want to get some experience with overnight passage-making, let me know. And if you already have experience, great, then we can go right to swapping sea tales between watches.

For now, let’s take a final stroll around Beaufort.

Arriving by sea in Beaufort, one is greeted with flags spelling out the town's name. The distant mast in this photo belongs to Phoenix. You can see her blue earth flag flying from the port spreader.
Across from the harbor boardwalk are small, locally-owned shops. Reminds me of a small Vermont village right by the sea.
I love a good dive-bar with a greasy hamburger grill. Order your burger "all the way" here at Royal James and you'll get their homemade sauce on it.
Keeping heading east on the waterfront street (Front Street) and it becomes residential with grand homes graced with grand porches.
Those grand homes look out, across Front Street to the waterway between the mainland and one of the barrier islands.  From those porches the genteel folk are entertained by grand-ette boats like this sprit-rigged beauty.
Across the waterway, those genteel eyes can spy wild horses on the barrier island, now a nature reserve. Even I, with my not-so-genteel eyes, saw some.
A ways east on Front Street, we come across this memorial to the local fishermen.
I love local memorials, especially for seamen. I don't think we appreciate enough the dangers and labors suffered by those who bring that shrimp scampi to our plate. We take it for granted. Or we assume it's their choice to go to sea. In fact, it often isn't. Often, it is the only employment around. The job is romantic only from a distance. Not on the boat, in the cold salt spray, with puckered fingers, aching bones, stinking catch, heaving seas, churning stomach, and no rest for the weary.

This memorial had four poems; one on each side. I enjoyed all of them. Here's the one I liked best:

In Loving Memory and Recognition
Menhaden Fishermen
Past – Present – Future
This is their livelihood. This is their life

They know the sea
Can read God’s weather chart
Sun, moon, and stars from memory
The compass points are there within each heart
Crews of brave men, all ages, crafts and stands
Together, one strong back – and calloused hands
They toil in icy cold, in heat or rain
Following the fish, searching for school’s dark stain,
Reading the ocean, finally there they are
Poagies off the port bow, lower the purse boats, pull on the oars
The catch landed, foam reaches high, gunnels down
Returning to safe harbor, families and Beaufort-town
Fueling an industry, they are constant as beacons of light
Unaware of the pages of maritime history they write

I like that last line about being unaware of the history they write. It reminds me of the victims of Costa Concordia or the poor Korean students of the recent ferry sinking. Their names are largely unknown to the world and will be soon forgotten like countless souls lost at sea before them. But we hope their loss will not be in vain. The Titanic sinking led to international agreements regarding safety at sea. These latest tragedies will hopefully lead to improvements as well.

On with the tour:

At the western end of Front Street, we see the very fishing boats honored by the memorial.
Coming back to the harbor, you see that I didn't make up the title to this post.
Beaufort, NC harbor at night. So romantic. How lucky am I to enjoy this view at sunset?

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