Port of Call: Beaufort, North Carolina

For cruisers bound south from points north, the long slog down the Intracoastal Waterway often ends at Beaufort, North Carolina, on the Crystal Coast, at the southern end of the Outer Banks. For some weary sailors, this backwater (in the best sense of the word) provides a chance to recuperate, repair, regroup, refuel and re-provision before firing up the diesel once more and plugging on down toward Florida. For others it’s a springboard to the Caribbean.

Once you’ve negotiated an exit through the narrow channel at Beaufort Inlet, overlooked by Fort Macon on one side and the Cape Lookout lighthouse on the other, there’s nothing between you and the Bahamas but a few hundred miles of open ocean. On the way out you’ll pass a buoy marking the place where the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, rests in 30 feet of water.

Heading inland, after you’ve made the short detour off the ICW and carefully picked your way through the shallow flats to Beaufort Inlet, you can usually find a mooring in Taylor Creek or a slip at one of the half-dozen or so marinas. On one side of the creek there’s the subdued bustle of a small town. On the other, wild horses graze placidly on the shore of Carrot Island. The town itself has a sleepy antebellum feel; probably just the place for a crew of hardworking pirates to relax after a hard summer’s pillaging. If it was good enough for Blackbeard, it’s certainly good enough for us.

Where to Dock

Town Creek Marina
232 West Beaufort Road

Town Creek Marina offers 25 transient slips at a daily rate of $2.00 per foot ($2.40 for inside/outside slips) and a weekly rate of $9.00 per foot ($10.80 for inside/outside slips). Boat US members get a 25 percent discount. Hungry sailors can head across the bridge to one of downtown Beaufort’s many restaurants, or have dinner and drinks in the marina’s Fish Tales Waterfront Restaurant.


  • Laundry and shower facilities
    • Gas and diesel fuel
    • Pump-out stations
    • Ship store for basic provisions
    • Hull, engine and propeller repair services
    • Beaufort Docks
      500 Front Street

      Beaufort Docks has 96 slips in an ideal location near downtown Beaufort. At least a dozen restaurants are in easy walking distance. Rates are competitive.

      Amenities include:

    • Laundry and shower facilities
    • Gas and diesel fuel
    • Pump-out stations
    • Engine and propeller repair
    • Wireless Internet
    • Olde Towne Yacht Club
      100 Olde Towne Yacht Club Road

      The Olde Towne Yacht Club is part of a luxury condominium community, with 20 transient slips at its marina. The daily rate for the first six days is $2.00 per foot; the weekly rate is $9.50 per foot.

      Amenities include:

    • Laundry and shower facilities
    • Gas and diesel fuel
    • Fitness room
    • Swimming pool
    • Where to Eat

      Convenient dining options in Beaufort include Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant, which offers plenty of seafood specials, or its sister restaurant, the tapas-inspired Aqua. More waterfront dining can be found at Spouter Inn, where diners can eat lunch and dinner, followed by breads and desserts from the in-house baker. A few minutes away, the Beaufort Grocery Company serves up sandwiches, salads and seafood dishes.

      What to See

      The area’s rich natural resources are on display just across Taylor Creek in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, a 2,315 acre collection of islands that includes Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal and Horse Island. Within the reserve, visitors can expect to encounter an array of wildlife including Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, shore birds and wild horses.

      The Cape Lookout National Seashore is a long, thin strip of land located to the right of town. The site provides more opportunities for horse watching on Shackleford Banks. Kids will love hunting for sand dollars during low tide on the aptly named Sand Dollar Island. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse, another popular attraction, is open for lighthouse climbs that afford excellent views of an outstretched ICW.

      Visitors can sail their own boats to these islands, or take advantage of local ferry services such as Island Ferry Adventures (islandferryadventures.com) and Outer Banks Ferry (outerbanksferry.com).

      The attractions aren’t limited to the shoreline, either. As the third-oldest town in North Carolina, Beaufort is also packed with sights on shore. The North Carolina Maritime Museum’s many exhibits include displays on marine life and fossils, historic watercraft, and sailing history. There’s also an exhibit on the infamous Blackbeard that features artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Across the street at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, visitors can observe boat-building and restoration projects and take boat-building or sailing classes.

      The nearby Beaufort Historic Site features ten buildings, many of which have been authentically restored, including the old jail (c. 1829), apothecary shop (c. 1859) and courthouse (c. 1796). The lush foliage and crumbling tombstones of Old Burying Ground make it a picturesque spot for a stroll. The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was even named one of the 100 most romantic places in North Carolina.

      If you like ghosts of the more frightening variety, take a walk past the Hammock House, a former inn where Blackbeard is rumored to have stayed. Now a private residence, the house is famously haunted by several ghosts, including one of the pirate’s wives. The Beaufort Ghost Walk stops at the Hammock House and other spooky sites.

      Additional Resources

    • The Crystal Coast
    • North Carolina Tourism
    • Beaufort Historic Site
    • Cape Lookout National Seashore
    • North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve
    • Dozier’s Waterway Guide 2009 Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway

    • View Beaufort, North Carolina in a larger map

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