Beaufort received a grant in the 1980's and used the money to build city docks along Taylor Creek. Then, a big sign was erected which said "Free Dockage." Let me hasten to add that the dockage here is no longer free, but back in the 80's, cruisers wending their way north or south along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway were just as conscious of a good deal as mariners are today. It wasn't long before a host of craft began spending time on Taylor Creek. Then the town leaders rounded up a group of developers, pointed at all the boats along their waterfront, and probably said something like, "Don't you want to build some restaurants and shops to serve all those people." The short answer was "yes, we do."
Then Beaufort did something really smart. They declared their entire downtown business district a historic area, and were able to minutely control what sort of construction went forward. The result is a community today whose large historic district has been enhanced rather than destroyed by all the development that has taken place here over the last two decades.
Facilities and Anchorages:
Many cruisers choose to coil their lines at the Beaufort City Docks (252-728-2503) on Taylor Creek. The slip space here has expanded greatly over the past decade with 100 slips accommodating boats up to 250 feet (offering gas and diesel fuel). Located right on the boardwalk in downtown Beaufort, the marina is convenient to restaurants and lodging, and it offers a courtesy car to use for supply runs.
Northbound AICW cruisers, or those coming in from the briny blue by way of Beaufort Inlet, can take advantage of a charted and well-marked channel that runs directly from the inlet to Taylor Creek and the Beaufort waterfront. This passage twists and turns a bit, and you must pay close attention to all markers, but otherwise most mariners can find their way safely to Taylor Creek via this route. Southbound AICW mariners are not so lucky. For time out of mind, captains could turn into the Gallant Channel at marker #35, and follow this passage through the Grayden Paul Bridge to Taylor Creek. Some years ago, the northwestern part of Gallant Channel shoaled, and a canoe might well find the bottom now if the operator took a turn to the southeast at #35. Southbound skippers piloting vessels drawing 4 Â½ feet or less might choose to follow a more complicated passage by way of charted Russell Slue Channel, which leads in turn to the deeper portion of the Gallants Channel.
Those piloting deeper draft vessels, or those who just want to play it safe, might choose to continue tracking their way along the AICW under the high-rise Newport River Bridge. You can then swing into the seaward track of Beaufort Inlet, and soon cut off the inlet channel into the marked track to Taylor Creek, as discussed above.
If you don't do anything else ashore in Beaufort, take a stroll along Ann Street, one block from the waterfront. The historic homes here are dreamlike, and some of the backyard gardens have to be seen to be believed. Don't miss the North Carolina Maritime Museum (315 Front St), and their across-the-street wooden boat building center. This is a superb attraction that demands the attention of every visiting cruiser. Also on Ann Street is the "Old Burying Ground." The cemetery dates back to the 1700's. The old oak trees, shaped by the winds over many years, impart an air of somber mystery as they lean over the seemingly ancient headstones. You can also take a town tour on a double decker bus, thoughtfully provided by the Beaufort Historical Association. There is perhaps no quicker way to get in touch with this historic community's past!
When it comes time to slake a healthy appetite, Beaufort is ready for you. Among a host of fine choices, be SURE to check out the Spouter Inn (218 Front St.,252-728 5190) and Beaufort Grocery Company (117 Queen St.,252-728-3899). This latter dining attraction is often noisy and serves its delectable cuisine in a high energy atmosphere. Spouter Inn offers both inside and dockside dining. In the evenings, the Scallop Parmigiana has to be experienced to understand just how fabulous seafood can be!
Once you have strolled around and dined in Beaufort, it will no longer by a mystery why this town is often considered to be the #1 success story of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.