Friday storms threatened up and down the North Carolina coast so the plan was to get as close to Beaufort as possible on Thursday and then hunker down. Dana was set on stopping at Wrightsville Beach.
“Don’t stop at Wrightsville Beach. Wrightsville Beach is like Myrtle Beach but smaller.” This wisdom straight from Robert Creech’s front porch. Who are we to argue with the famous Robert Creech? Ok, let’s shoot for Topsail Beach. Nope, marina’s full. Ok, how about Harbour Village? Mike has room, so let’s go.
We pulled off the dock behind Still Waters II, Avalon, and Ceci Kay. All Loopers. All heading north.
Years ago Doug psychologically was scarred by the movie Cape Fear, so the Cape Fear River brought flashbacks. Since we played no role in De Niro’s imprisonment we probably were ok but you never know. Anyway, the river was wide enough for us to slide past the container ship safely.
Also along the Cape Fear River is Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point. This is the largest ammunition terminal in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the world. Not surprisingly we encountered gunboats protecting all that stash. Our distress flares are no match for vastly superior weaponry and almost literally an unlimited supply of ammo. We stayed away.
The only tricky bit was timing the bridges. At one point Limerick, Baytripper, and Avalon all steamed up on our tail in a hurry to catch one.
When your boat’s on a lift do you really just let your dock fall down around it? But hey, at least there’s a cover on the console to protect it from the elements.
Ospreys of the bird-type are a dime a dozen around here. We passed a nest as we hooked into Harbor Village.
Noseeums also are thick as fog around here. Ever since Harbour Village we’ve been tearing at our arms and legs like tweakers on a binge. But at least the area was pretty. After everyone was tied up and cleaned up, we met Baytripper and Ceci Kay at the picnic table. Benny enjoyed the company.
We talked of drones and reminisced with Baytripper about that time we were on opposite sides of Antonia in Grafton and the entire marina smelled disgusting but nobody knew why until Baytripper discovered the gelatinous carcass of an Asian carp that was hosting a maggot party in their dinghy. Bruce and Bev swear they got the smell off their boat but we try to stay upwind anyway.
Yesterday we had another military-related thing. The ICW bisects Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where marines who survive Parris Island train for amphibious assaults, among other things. This was a week of live-firing right where we needed to go through. Dana called the Marine Range Master, who gave her the schedule—with the dismissive caveat that since the Army was conducting the exercises we shouldn’t necessarily count on it being followed.
A few miles out the thunder of artillery reverberated on our flybridge. Very cool, in a hopefully-they-realize-we’re-on-their-side sort of way. We’ve seen Red Dawn so know that even a small band of renegades can defeat a superpower*, but we still were armed only with those same distress flares so if things turned ugly we’d be screwed.
Just before the bridge, a different Osprey—this one built by Boeing—circled right above us for a while.
Just after the bridge a Navy Range Boat ordered us all to stop. We all stopped. Just look at the sign. Of course we all stopped.
The second range boat we passed didn’t seem quite as scary—since the red-headed dude undoubtedly was watching baby-animal videos on his phone—but it’s best to follow instructions from beefy soldiers with guns anyway.
The army still uses Vietnam-era Mechanized Landing Craft. We know this, because we saw them all over the place.
Just before Beaufort we passed the inlet where Blackbeard sunk his flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. The dread pirate obviously lacked that one aid to navigation guaranteed to prevent disaster: a wife to remind him to follow the Navionics line and watch the depth gauge instead of playing poker on his iPad.
Phillips Island is just around the corner from Beaufort. Seventeen acres of flood-prone flatland that can be purchased for only $395,000, with the ruins of a fish-processing plant thrown in.
Despite crazy and unexpected wind, we made it into our spot at Homer Smith’s Dock next to Baytripper and Festivus. We first met Festivus on Mackinac Island. They’re Canadian. Who knew Canadians watch Seinfeld?
* The original one starring the couple from Dirty Dancing, not the cheap remake. Wolverine!