Cape Lookout, North Carolina
If there is a more beautiful anchorage on the East Coast, I haven’t found it. Just inside of the treacherous “Graveyard of the Atlantic” as these Carolina Capes are affectionately called, lies one of the most tranquil and pristine anchorages I have ever seen. She is protected on all sides and the holding is not to be believed. We arrived here on Sunday morning after an all night run from Southport, NC. and after surveying the local landscape, we dropped the anchor. We gave Gratitude a nice rinsing and ate something and went to sleep. That night we had 2 fronts pass through. The first was right at Jacks bedtime so we were both up to witness the holding in 30 knots of wind with storms all around us. Im anxious to figure out how to post pictures as we got some amazing shots of the very low overcast storm clouds with the sun setting in the distance. The second front passed through in the middle of the night. Naturally, Alec awoke to watch us ride out the storm at anchor in 50+ knots of wind. I slept peacefully through the whole thing. I typically sleep well but coming off an overnight trip – Im completely comatose – nearly un-wakable. Alec told me the next day that she “sailed” around in the wind but the anchor held tight and kept us pinned to the bottom unwavering. After that test, anyone could sleep soundly knowing she wasn’t going anywhere!
The initial plan was to stay until Wednesday but in no hurry to repeat our 10’ wave experience, we all decided to wait for the more prudent weather which was forecast for a Friday departure. All of this extra time allowed for us to climb the beautiful Cape Lookout lighthouse (only open Wed-Sun so we thought we would miss it). Also, we took a dinghy ride to Harkers Island on one day and Beaufort the next.
One of the terrific gifts of this type of travel is the relaxed and unhurried way that we tend to experience an area. There isn’t that frenetic pace that one often adopts in an effort to cram it all in on planned week long vacations. With no particular plan in place and not even sure of what island we would explore, we departed Gratitude on our little dingy with our essentials bag in hand (typical contents include sunscreen, water, camera, cash, wipes and an apple or two) and hats and glasses and we were off! We ended up on Harkers Island. Neither of us had ever heard of it before and we had no idea what we would find. After finding a suitable resting place for our dink, we set off walking with no particular destination in mind. We randomly selected a street to walk down which looked to have water – the opposite end of the island at it’s end. Along our walk, we started chatting with a nice man filling his bird seed feeders in the front yard. You know that feeling when, by some crazy chance, you happen to be face to face with someone who exudes so much warmth and kindness you feel like you could talk companionably for hours? This was just such a man. We continued our walk away and moments later, after moving from the street to allow a car to pass we realized that the car was this man, Paul. He told us to “please take his car to explore the island – take it as long and we liked – He didn’t need to go anywhere” “ Have a great time!!!:” Ha! So we did! We went from one end of the island to the bridge joining the island on the other end. It was so much fun having a bigger broader view of this little special place and to have been the beneficiary of so much grace felt magical. After returning Pauls car (with a full tank of gas:-) and chatting a bit longer with he and his wife Aprille (I know – funny they have the same names as the couple we are buddy cruising with). we went on our way.
Coming home on the dingy we stopped by Shackleford Banks Island. There are wild horses here which are overseen by the National Parks system. There are several harems or “families” of horses living on the island which are completely left to their own devices. They receive no medical intervention or care, no food – but are left to graze peacefully in this beautiful place and they all come to a communal watering hole.
After returning “home”, Alec and Jack swam and cleaned the bottom of Gratitude while I went up to the elliptical and enjoyed a lovely mid-afternoon workout.
On Wednesday we took the dingy to Beaufort Island where we learned all about the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. There is a fantastic Maritime museum here were we spent hours learning about Blackbeard and the Queen Ann’s Revenge believed to have been found here just outside of Cape Lookout in 1996. It is believed that Blackbeard either ran his ship aground intentionally or unintentionally after blockading the port of Charleston and absconding with his biggest heist yet. Blackbeard was captured and killed only months later in this area in 1718. Jack was curious how old he was when he died and we did some research to discover that he was just 38 years old. He was originally a Privateer working for England under Queen Ann’s rule.
On Thursday we climbed all 207 steps to the Cape Lookout light house and also enjoyed a talk about Jack’s favorite subject – sharks 🙂
And today – (Im finally caught up with our blog) is Friday and we are underway on a 66 hour passage. We left Cape Lookout this morning at 10.00. We are getting a nice gentle roll from the waves. Just enough motion to make doing boat chores unpleasant but writing in the off watch bunk really enjoyable. The plan is to arrive at the high tide in Onset, MA on Monday at 11:00 am.