Alligator and Pungo Rivers and Beaufort, NC
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Elizabeth City, NC to Beaufort, NC //
After crossing the Albemarle Sound, our next couple of days consisted of going through the Alligator and Pungo Rivers and the the various canals in between, down to Adams Creek and on to Beaufort, NC. Beaufort would become a much needed break from the endless motoring we’ve been doing on the ICW. Throughout this portion of the trip we were welcomed with much milder and sunny weather which gave us an opportunity to scout out some quiet, calm, and secluded anchorages to make up for the awful overnight in Elizabeth City. And some neat anchorages we found. First, was East Lake just off the Alligator River entrance. There were a couple sailboats anchored with us on the evening of Friday, November 16.
As we made our move out of East Lake on Saturday around 8 AM, we proceeded down the Alligator-Pungo River canal, another very scenic track which led us into Pungo River by 4 PM. We passed a neat anchorage area on our starboard just after coming out of the canal. However, we had also scouted marina at Dowry Creek, just another 45 minutes away, which would provide us with much needed shower and laundry time as well as to fill up on diesel. Since it was affordable, we decided to make it our stop — it still included the scenic and secluded character we were looking for (wink!).
By 7:30 AM on Sunday we were back on the river again making our way south. Originally, we had anticipated heading to Oriental, NC, but given we had gotten ourselves sorted out at Dowry Creek Marina, we ended up anchoring in Broad Creek, just off Skate Point, around 3 PM. It was an idyllic little enclave surrounded by tall pines and marshlands. Since it was early enough, we hopped on our dinghy for a short ride up the creek towards the town of Whortonsville. We were surprised to have found a plethora of private docks occupied by sailboats the further we got into the creek. Our charts had shown this area to be pretty shallow to come in with our boat so we thought perhaps they had dredged it in recent years. We went back to Sparidae, cooked dinner and relaxed before our last leg to Beaufort, NC the next day.
Come Monday, we left early, around 7:30am, to make our final canal crossing. We headed down Adams Creek and arrived to Beaufort around 1pm. There were a number of sailors and cruisers that made the same trip with us on the canal. We were worried we would find limited space in the small anchorage areas available. We ended up heading to the inner Town Creek anchorage area (the outer area was packed), and anchored there next to another little sailboat. A man rowing his dinghy over to the town dock warned us of a lot of debris in the area. We listened carefully but were also not too worried since we’ve continued using chain for anchoring. We hopped on our dinghy and motored around the various marinas and yacht clubs nearby looking for diesel. At Beaufort Yacht Basin we met another sailor who warned us the anchorage we had come into didn't have great holding in strong winds. Luckily, the next few days were forecasted to be pretty calm, but we were careful and kept an eye on our position just in case.
We made our way to Town Creek Marina, which was the only place that had diesel available on this side of town, we stumbled upon fellow cruisers Gypsy Days whom we had been following on social media. They had left from Constitution Marina earlier this summer so we were eager to catch up with them. We sent them a message over IG and shortly after filling up our canisters with diesel we stopped by for a quick hello. It was really neat to meet another young couple on the same route as us. Unfortunately, they had mechanical issues that had slowed down their trip (we feel for you guys!). We kept in touch and made sure to hang out before we departed Beaufort.
Come dinner time, we had decided Monday would have been date night since we hadn’t really been out and about or in a “big town” since Norfolk, VA. I had scouted a neat little restaurant called La Perla (named after the neighborhood in Old San Juan!) that of course we had to check out. A Latin-American inspired restaurant in the third oldest town in North Carolina? Sign me up please! We dinghied over to one of the many public docks the town has available at Topsail Park. We walked around Front Street and checked out the beautiful historic homes along the waterfront then headed to Backstreet Pub for a beer (and a fireplace!). After, we headed over to La Perla, back in Front Street, at the historic William Borden House. And it was amazing. Tom had local shrimp cooked in okra-tomato based sofrito sauce with dirty rice, while I had a duck leg with jasmine rice and mole sauce. We indulged, but then realized we had departed Boston just exactly a month ago -- it was the perfect time to take a pause and celebrate. Over dinner we did a weather check and decided we would be heading out back to the ICW towards Southport, NC come Wednesday. All this time we had been thinking of making a two-night passage over to Charleston (or somewhere nearby), but there didn’t seem to be any optimal weather windows to allow for such a trip. We were bummed that we would need to continue motoring down the ICW, but we’ve prioritized to continue moving South given the endless cold weather we keep experiencing (we are still wearing long underwear, and winter clothes), and doing so as safely as possible. We will not risk heading out into extremely windy conditions in areas that we are unfamiliar with.
Given our plans, we needed to make a move on provisioning on Tuesday morning. We dinghied our way to another town dock, on the side of Town Creek Marina, and walked for 20 minutes to a shopping mall area. We hit the hardware store and the supermarket and stocked up on our Thanksgiving meal supplies, which we knew we would be cooking under way in the ICW (challenge accepted!). After that, we headed back into Beaufort one more time to check out the North Carolina Maritime Museum where we learned a lot from Blackbeard and then headed to the Rachel Carlson Reserve across Taylor Creek to watch the sunset and possibly peek on the wild horses that roam the area.
Right after sunset we went back into town and decided to check out Royal James for dinner, as yet another friendly character we had bumped into a day earlier had recommended it for its cheap fares ($2 burgers!). We texted our new friends Aaron and Tanya from Gypsy Days and had them join us (check them out!). We chatted all things cruising, and got to know each other more. Then we headed back over to Sparidae to finish the night over some cocktails. Cheers to new friends!
Scenes from Beaufort, NC