Aug 14 – From Dragons to Pirates

We left Oriental in the early morning, before the winds picked up, and had an easy crossing of the Neuse River, and a smooth trip down to Beaufort. We were taking it easy on purpose, and arrived a little after noon. We had barely seen Beaufort on our trip north, having arrived in the later afternoon and leaving early the next morning — never setting foot ashore. We wanted to see it this time. We dropped the outboard onto the dinghy and headed into town. Because of the number of boats anchored in Taylor Creek, we had to anchor about a mile and a half from the dinghy dock. It took us about 15 minutes to get from the boat to the dinghy dock because the whole trip was in a No Wake zone. Temperatures were in the low 90s as we scoped out the town. We were looking for all the usual luxuries… groceries, laundries, trash dumpsters, and cheap cold beer. We found the grocery and the laundry, and by late afternoon had ducked into a likely place for a beer. It had all the requirements. Chairs and air conditioning. As for beer, Suzy tried a craft local, and I got a cheap domestic. Being fairly late in the day, and not wanting to heat up the boat by having to cook something later, we ordered an appetizer and called it dinner. We nursed that rest stop for about two hours before we returned to the boat.

Scraping DinkThe next morning was fairly cool, and not wanting to appear the sloth, I decided it was time to haul and scrape the dinghy. We unloaded all the gear, hoisted the outboard motor back up onto the stern rail, and hauled the dinghy up by the spinnaker halyard. I went after the bottom with my normal tool, a metal kitchen spatula. Four hours later, the dinghy was back in the water, fully loaded, and with a slick bottom. I could really tell the difference in performance when we headed back into town later that day. The outboard hardly had to work at all to push the boat through the water. We walked around town a bit in the late afternoon, then stopped a local and asked about a good place for a cold beer and a cheap burger. He recommended the Royal James Cafe. We strolled down to the cafe and were surprised to find that it was a full-fledged pool hall with a long bar and lunch counter down one side — kinda quaint and scruffy at the same time. But the beer was cold and inexpensive, and the burgers were cheap and good. The fries were excellent. We watched a little bit of the Rio Olympics TV coverage while we sat. First we’d seen of it.

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While walking around town, we noticed these flyers posted at various locations. Seems pirates invaded Beaufort in 1747, only to be driven off by the locals. Now, it’s a good excuse for a party, but with most of the locals seeming to want to identify with the pirates. The re-enactment of the invasion was going to be at the city dock, which includes the dinghy dock. Signs had been posted that the dinghy dock would be closed all day on Saturday. Since the only other place to land the dinghy is a long walk from town, we decided to just stay on the boat on Saturday. Nurse Suzy had already determined that I needed a day of rest, and had restricted me from any strenuous activity. So I spent Saturday catching up on blog posts and going over our bills and budget — and trying to stay cool. The weather service had resumed issuing heat advisories for the coast, and we were feeling the full effects.

Sunday was going to be our day for groceries and laundry, but we decided to put those chores off until our next stop. The tasks would’ve involved hauling our laundry to town in the dinghy, and hauling both the laundry and groceries back. We didn’t look forward to the long ride. We decided we would stay in a cheap marina at our next stop, but it was one with a courtesy car. Besides, the available grocery would be much larger than the waterfront shop in Beaufort. Instead of doing chores, we went to the Maritime Museum. There’s a great exhibit on the old coastal Life Saving service, which rescued people from the many ships that wrecked along North Carolina’s coast. There’s also a fascinating exhibit about the pirate Blackbeard. Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, had wrecked in the shoals surrounding the Beaufort Inlet in 1718, and in recent years it has been excavated. The museum has many of the artifacts recovered from the wreck. Surprisingly, even though Blackbeard is probably one of the most renowned pirates in our history, his career was short — less than two years. He captured the ship that he would rename Queen Anne’s Revenge in the Caribbean in 1717. He had some successful raids and blockaded Charleston, SC, before wrecking his ship. After Charleston, he was hunted down by the British Navy, captured and beheaded before the end of 1718. North Carolina was a hub of pirate activity during what is called the Golden Age of Piracy. It had shallow inlets that smaller pirate ships could enter, but big British Navy ships couldn’t. It was sparsely populated and weakly governed, which meant there were plenty of open areas where the pirates could operate or hide. And it had a poor economy, which meant there was a ready black market for the goods that pirates would sell. The pirates weren’t always looking for gold. They attacked merchant ships to steal anything of value that they could then resell. It is even thought that the colonial government of North Carolina condoned the pirate trade, since it was good for the local economy. Sounds like the places where pirates still operate today.