After leaving Beaufort, we spend the day with friends, both new and old, and perhaps find the area where we want look at living long term!
Start: Beaufort Docks, Beaufort, NC, 0815
End: Big Creek NC Anchorage, 1327
Total Distance: 27.1 nm
Average Speed: 5.4 kts
Dave and Kim are the captain and crew of S/V Skinny-dipper. We first met them over a year ago at New Bern, NC at a Great Looper seminar and hung out over the week because we were the only two groups of boaters there that happened to be of the sail variety.
We left ahead of them, they passed us on Lake Michigan, we caught them on the rivers, passed them around Florida, met up in Marathon, they went west (as in Key West) for the winter, we went east and didn’t meet up again until yesterday. When we got to Beaufort, NC.
Dave took a job driving one of the ferries from Beaufort to the national park. Because after a year of driving a boat, why not go ahead and apply your experience to your job. Dave and Kim have a house a couple hours away, but also have a small place on a waterfront piece of property on South Creek, NC. And they have friends (Steve/Wendy) on Big Creek, which is just south of Dave/Kim’s house, and we were invited to come visit both of them.
Our plan was to leave Beaufort and head to Oriental, NC, which is just north of where there respective houses are located, so this was a no-brainer. We were in.
Now we just have to get out of the marina.
If you remember, there are two big a$$ed boats lining the entrance to the marina. And a current that can rip through the marina cross ways. Fortunately we are at slack tide around 8am. Long story short? We make it no problem. We have one bascule bridge to head through in Beaufort and then we head north. Our day is only about 20 miles–really short, so we aren’t in a hurry. When we looked at the tides, we figured we would be against the ebb tide going north, but we were with it and that and the wind meant we had the engines basically in idle and were making 6.5 mph. There were very few boats on the water.
After a couple of hours we entered into the Neuse River. It is a wide river running West/East (or East/West) lined with huge trees and very few houses. Water is pretty shallow. It reminds us of the Chesapeake Bay. It is gorgeous.
Across the river is Oriental, NC which is a favorite stop of a bunch of people, but we are heading a bit east, then turning south three miles into the (appropriately named) South River, then west into Big Creek. Big Creek is charted at seven feet and we were told to look for a basin just off the north bank of the creek and we could pull in an stay the night. They channel to the basin was dredged to five feet. But when we got into big creek we saw five feet max and looked at the basin and chickened out. We headed to the end of the creek, dropped the anchor and were set for the afternoon.
And we had a problem. Not a boating problem. Not a personal problem. A technology problem. Dave was working, but he gave us the phone number for Wendy (half of Steve/Wendy, whose house we were going to be at). I sent her a text on the way, but didn’t hear back before we arrived. And at our current location we had no cellphone coverage. With either Verizon or ATT. So no way to contact Wendy.
But we do have a wifi booster antenna which sucks in wifi signal from as far away as Mozambique, looking for that one open, non-secure network into which we can access. And darned if there isn’t an open network. Message off to Wendy, we get a reply and head to shore.And while it isn’t heaven, it certainly isn’t more than a stone’s throw away.
We spend the afternoon and evening with Wendy, then with Steve and Dave who join us after these pesky things called ‘jobs.’ Dave you already know. Steve is a retired Navy dude and it was touch and go for awhile on if we would be able to be together. He and Wendy bought this slice of paradise about eight years ago. It was a house on 30ish acres of waterfront, and they have expanded to have the docks, a massive she-shed, an enormous old wooden commuter yacht from back in the 30s that they are converting to a guest room, and more. Did I mention right on the water? Lucky got a day off leash, AJ got to explore and we got to sit and contemplate where we would like to put our next house. David did join us after work and we took a four wheeler to his place. On back country roads. On which we didn’t see one car on the trip between their two houses.
Dave/Kim’s place is on the western shore of south creek, up on stilts with a big dock on the water. Again–more mental drawings of what our next house on the water will look like. AJ drives us all back to Steve/Wendy’s place and manages almost roll the buggy only once. We make home made pizzas on the grill, sit on the porch and tell war stories until well past our bedtime.
It has been apparent for a couple of weeks the we are coming to the end of our trip. We have at most two to three weeks left before we get back to Maryland. We have started talking to a realtor back at home. We have a slip reserved back at our old marina. The number of miles we have left to travel is only a couple of hundred out of almost 6,000 miles travelled. And we cannot convince AJ to stay out another year (or more), even using coercive tactics long since ruled unacceptable by the Geneva Convention. We are in a bit of a funk. A malaise really.
It is having an affect on my behavior as well. I am, as most people will attest, thrifty with my money. Tight, even. Don’t like to spend it. Which is why this trip has been fantastic, especially over the past four months, because we stay either at anchorages (FREE) or mooring balls, (not FREE but CHEAP!), and not so much at marinas (EXPENSIVE). But over the past couple of weeks as our return to reality comes crashing down on us, we find ourselves more and more often in a marina. And with nary a whimper from yours truly. I just can’t muster up the moral outrage over spending money for the ‘luxury’ of a marina when we are going to be done soon.
Today is one of many examples on why this trip has been so much fun and consequently, why we eating junk food at a horrendous rate to try to quench the pit in our stomachs as the trip comes to an end.1 We continue to discover new places (to us anyway) and meet new people at those places and almost without exception, the people are fantastic. Everyone has a story to tell and their lives are fascinating. We keep saying that we have found our next place to live, but that is only until we get to the NEXT place, meet the people, and then it becomes our next place to live.
1In case you think I am joking: We have stopped at three grocery stores in the past week and normally we see a grocery store once every two-three weeks. At the grocery store the food items that make up the bulk of our purchase fall into the ‘fried and salty’ category, ‘dips’ category, ‘frozen and sweet’ category, and ‘wine.’ Not category on that last one. Just wine.