Though we had changed our plans and would turn south, we knew we didn’t want to race back home as fast as possible. We wanted to take our time and visit some of the places we had blown through on our way north. We decided our first stop would be in the NC town of Swansboro, which sits at the mouth of the White Oak River near Bogue Inlet at the south end of Bogue Sound. Swansboro was only about thirty miles from Beaufort, so we weren’t in any hurry to leave on Monday morning. We didn’t have any bridges that needed to open for us, so the trip should only take about five hours. We hauled up our anchor at about 0830 and made our way back up Taylor Creek to the Beaufort Inlet, and turned south through Bogue Sound. The day was warm and sunny, but not too hot, and there was a slight bit of breeze. The current was against us, however, and we weren’t making really good time. In addition, I was worried about the repaired autopilot — I didn’t want to overwork it. I also wanted to see if the new bottom contour charts I’d downloaded accurately depicted the conditions my depth gauge was showing me. It became a slow and tedious trip.
When we were about halfway down the Sound, I got a text message from my brother who has been keeping an eye on my 94-year-old mother. She had fallen that morning in her senior care facility and was in the ER at a local hospital. I turned the boat over to the autopilot and called my brother. Mom was conscious but in pain. Xrays revealed a crack in the femur. She had also scraped up her arm a bit. The crack would require surgery the next day to insert a couple of screws to strengthen the crack. We crossed our fingers and prayed for the best.
We pulled into the marina in Swansboro around 1400. It wasn’t very fancy, being primarily a dry-stack storage and fueling facility for local power boats, but it had a couple of transient slips and it was very inexpensive. The staff were friendly, and there were enough of them to provide assistance whenever you needed it. They also had a free courtesy car, albeit it was a “beater” with a non-functioning air conditioner. No matter. We hit the local laundromat and grocery store, doing all the chores we couldn’t get to in Beaufort. For dinner, we walked over the bridge to the Swansborough Yacht Club, which bore as much resemblance to a real yacht club as Craig Ferguson’s horse, Secretariat (not a real horse!). It was basically a roadside dive, but had good seafood and cold beer at happy hour prices.
Madge’s mooring on the transient dock was on the outside of the marina, closest to the traffic on the ICW. It was a fixed dock with pilings, which meant we were constantly being washed into the pilings by the wakes of the boats tearing up and down the waterway. Fortunately, Madge has an aluminum rub rail that also serves as the toe rail, but when it made contact with the pilings, it would jar the entire boat. However, with a fair amount of fiddling and some extra line, I was able to position some of our fenders horizontally, cushioning the banging, but there was no escaping the jostling from the wakes. It was not too uncomfortable — only mildly aggravating — but for 75 cents a foot in dock fees, we could tolerate the aggravation.
We found Swansboro to be a nice little town, with some interesting old buildings, quaint shops, and some excellent restaurants. We spent a bit of time wandering through the “downtown” district, ducking in and out of shops trying to avoid the heat, and picking up some small souvenirs to clutter our bookshelves back home. We ended up in the old icehouse on the waterfront, where we had a wonderful dinner.
Mom had her surgery, which went well, but she was slow to recover from being put under anesthesia. I figured that between the pain killers she’d been given and the anesthetic, and the fact that her liver was two months shy of 95 years old, it was going to be awhile before she fully woke up.