A motoryacht anchored a few hundred yards away, and a center console outboard came alongside. The crew launched an inflatable and began an impressive offloading operation-people, chairs, tables, coolers, a sun tent and a grill. They ferried everything ashore and set up operations.
We had anchored a little earlier, close to the spit, and were having a quiet lunch aboard. No crew, no mammoth endeavors; just me and my wife, Joyce, letting the southwest breeze offer relief from the hot sun.
It was our first overnight trip of the season, to Cape Lookout, North Carolina. When the weather gets warm, I get antsy to do more than a day trip to the local fishing grounds.
As is the case with most afflicted by a love of boating, I find getting away from the ties of the shore, even if only for a short distance, does a world of good.
We’re fortunate that Cape Lookout, our favorite nearby destination, is far away in character but not far at all in miles. The Cape comes around from an easterly facing beach and goes north, forming a huge fishhook. The gap is close to Shacklefort Banks, providing protection from wind in any direction.
The anchorage is 20 or 30 feet deep and has good holding ground. Fish, turtles, porpoises and birds are abundant, but people aren’t (except on summer weekends). Only passenger-car ferries serve the banks, and facilities are meager. Take what you need, enjoy the quiet and go home refreshed.
Thursday dawned beautifully, with a light southeast breeze. We put the last few things aboard our Nauset 27 lobster boat and eased out of the slip. We ran until we got just outside Beaufort Inlet, where we dropped to trolling speed and put lures out for king and Spanish mackerel. It was a half-hearted fishing effort, but we hoped for a straggler. Sure enough, one king hit, jumped and was off. In about an hour we came abeam of the spit, rounded up in the bight and dropped the hook hard.
By the time the big-boat crowd was loading to leave, we were ready to go to the beach.
I pulled the boat in until the keel was just above the bottom, and we climbed down the ladder and waded ashore. It was about 3:30, just right for starting a walk along the beach, looking for shells.
Later, we swam on the ocean side, in small seas with no swell. A couple of hours more and we headed back to the boat. By then, the day-trippers were packing up-the moment every overnighter waits for. The spit was left even less crowded, and we moved the boat into a good anchorage well away from shore.
After a leisurely shower, I opened a bottle of good wine and Joyce got out the canapés. As the sun got closer to the sea, the temperature came down to a more comfortable level. We put dinner on: a good salad and simple fare. By the time the kettle was hot enough to pour tea, the sun had taken its bath in the western sea.
As dessert ended, it was full dark with stars blazing overhead. Complete calm enveloped us, like a favorite worn blanket.
You just can’t achieve that level of relaxation at home, even on a dock overlooking the water.
Make room in your life for overnight trips. They’ll save your boating soul.