Do you want to come to the south? Well, you should know that there are two towns named Beaufort and you better learn the correct pronunciation of each. You see, there is a Beaufort in both North Carolina and South Carolina, both of which are along the coast on the ICW. Many people stop in both locations and have messed up which is which: Beaufort, NC is “Boe-fert” where as Beaufort, SC is “Bew-fert”….why? – I have no clue!
We had a magical journey from Oriental to Beaufort – there were so many dolphins! As we rounded into Taylor Creek in Beaufort we saw false albacore tuna jumping right of the water, and then we saw her….our first Wild Horse!
Beaufort’s wild horses can only be reached by boat, across Taylor Creek at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, where they have free run of the entire Reserve which is made up of Town Marsh, Carrot Island, Bird Shoal and Horse Island. The habitation has extremely little fresh water, which is mostly ground water the horses find by digging.
Unlike North Carolina’s other three groups of wild horses, the Beaufort horses’ lineage is not isolated to the bloodlines of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. These horses are descended from stock kept on these islands in the 1940s by the Beaufort doctor who then owned the land. Researchers have noted that these “feral” horses exhibit the characteristics of the wild Outer Banks horses descended from the Spanish Mustang stock that first arrived on these barrier islands as far back as the early 1500’s. I suspect there has been some island-hopping horse love happening. 😉
We hiked and kayaked the Reserve but it was challenging to get the dinghy through the marshy inlets. We probably saw about 50 horses at one time and a little baby horse (colt?) with it’s parents. Each day we had at least one horse that would come to the same spot to snack on the grass – right onshore from our boat.
Each morning, we sat out in the cockpit and enjoyed our morning coffee and the dolphins. When it’s quiet and still in the morning you always hear the dolphin’s “chuffs” before you actually see them.
The dolphin forcefully “chuffs” or exhales when first surfacing for air to clear the recessed blowhole area of water. There is a network of complex nerve endings located in the region of the blowhole. These nerve endings sense pressure changes so the animal knows when its blowhole is clear of the water and it is safe to breathe.
Watching dolphins never gets old – at least not to me!
We spent almost a week in Beaufort. As you can probably tell, we spent plenty of time just enjoying watching the horses and dolphins. But, we did also go to shore.
Jesse’s uncle and cousin drove out to meet up with us. We took them on a tour of the area via dinghy and then headed into town for dinner. At Clawsons they were having a beer tasting and the local brew was super cheap (and good)…the food wasn’t bad either.
Both sv Calista and sv Hullabaloo were anchored in Taylor Creek as well, so we all ended up doing an impromptu bar hop one day. We started at the Royal James Cafe for the crazy cheap (but awesome) “All the Way” hot dogs. We then went to the Backsteet Pub, which is a very cool, old nautical pub.
We spent some time just walking along the town’s waterfront. As this area was Blackbeard the Pirate’s coastal haunt, we had to check out the the Maritime Museum.
Overall, we really liked Beaufort, I would say the only downside is the amount of derelict boats. There is not a Harbor Master to enforce the clean up of boats so you will find that there are sunken boats, with just a mast out of the water, some boats are on shore, while other boats look like they are about to sink and are an eye-sore. These boats are taking up prime space in the anchorage. We actually dragged anchor one night when the wind picked up and we had to go to a dock for the remainder of the night; knowing we could not reset and let out more scope due to all of the boats around us on “illegal” moorings (the town people just create their own moorings). It is unfortunate, and we have been seeing this more and more as we have been heading south.