Friday would prove to be the beginning of a very busy weekend, mainly because the Water Festival happening all around us was a constant presence. The festival opened at noon, and things started happening immediately. We went ashore and walked through the craft fair that had taken over the shore facilities at the marina, then visited the Santa Elena museum, which had exhibits from the earliest Spanish settlements in Port Royal Sound. The museum had opened on the day that we visited Port Royal two months ago when we came up to tour El Galeon (see previous post about that), but we didn’t have time during that trip to tour the museum. Friday night saw the opening ceremonies for the Water Festival, including a fireworks show over the river. Of course, from our vantage point, we had a front row seat. Since we had been so far away from the Saint Marys fireworks on the Fourth of July, we felt like this show helped make up the difference in being able to actually FEEL the concussion as each bomb went off.
On Saturday, we took off on a self-guided walking tour of the town. Beaufort has been around since 1711, and was occupied by Union troops throughout the entire Civil War, so much of the town has remained intact for its whole history. Lots of old churches and old houses to see. A number of years ago, Suzy and I were visiting Beaufort by car at a time when local artists had decorated mermaids and placed them around town. Most are gone now, but we did find one still standing guard over one of the buildings.
The festival events on Saturday included a large gathering on a sandbar out in the Beaufort River. The river was clogged with boats. There was a lot of activity around Madge, because our mooring ball was the closest to the route between the open river and the day dock, where boats were constantly coming and going picking up or dropping off people. Around sundown, the activities shifted to the city’s waterfront park, where a band gave a concert. We couldn’t hear the music, but we could sure feel the heavy thumps of the pumped up bass. Fortunately, the band wrapped up before 2200 and peace and quiet were restored.
On Sunday, we went to church with our friends, Nancy and Perry. We had been out of pocket on Sunday mornings for the last few weeks, and it felt good to get back into a bit of our old routine and have a little spiritual nourishment. Our friends are Lutheran, and the liturgy is a bit different than what we’re used to, so our old choir sight-reading skills got put to the test as we worked hard to keep up with the order of worship. The sermon was thought-provoking and there were a couple of hymns that we knew, so all in all it was a positive experience. We all had lunch afterward, but thunderstorms began moving into the area, and we had to race back to the boat to make sure we had secured all our hatches. We ended up getting a lot of wind and lightning, but not so much rain. Still, it was enough that we found a couple of leaks in some hatches that we didn’t remember having. The clouds and brief rain kept the temperatures down, and once the showers passed it was a comfortable evening for sitting out in the cockpit.
Today was a busy day getting ready for our departure tomorrow. Nancy offered for us to do laundry at her house, and Perry volunteered to take us to the grocery store. After those chores were completed, we dismantled the dinghy and prepared to get an early start tomorrow. We have to go into the fuel dock before leaving to fill up with diesel, top off our water tank, and to have our holding tank pumped out. We will anchor out tomorrow night, then have one night in a marina just outside Charleston where we plan to visit with my old college roommate and his wife. We had a great view of the full moon rising over the river from our cockpit as we ate dinner. We will have to be wary of the tides for the next few days.
We have been in Beaufort for a week, and are getting itchy to move on. It’s been great, though, visiting our old friends from M/V Dubhe. Once again, we are reminded that the best part about cruising is meeting people. We have met some truly wonderful folks.