Flying Fish

From Estuary to Ocean
by Nicole Carlozo -- October 25th, 2012

After a few months living along Maryland’s estuarine shores, the ocean tugged at my heartstrings. Last week I yearned to see the open water and long sandy beaches of North Carolina. By Friday, I had vowed to return. Seven and a half hours later, I found myself once again in a little N.C. town called Beaufort.

Perhaps you’re thinking that 7+ hours is far too long to drive just for a weekend trip. But I would disagree. I admit that I could make a 2 1/2 hour drive to the nearby Ocean City, M.D. Its noise, traffic and congestion, however, take away from the serenity an ocean view should offer. And Beaufort did not disappoint.

Ocean Bound

“I can’t talk to you right now, I see the ocean!”

These words tumbled from my mouth, my phone dropping slightly from my ear as I walked up the wooden boardwalk near Fort Macon and the ocean came into view. My mother, who I happened to be talking to at the time, was probably rolling her eyes on the other end of the line. Needless to say, our conversation ended abruptly.

The ocean offered a great deal more than a beautiful view and the feel of sand between my toes. It also offered wildlife.

This octopus was caught by one the numerous fishermen I passed while walking down the beach. Gotta love those invertebrates – and those fishermen!

These little sanderlings eyed me warily. While their brethren ran in and out with the cascading waves, searching for food, they sat peacefully.

Finding My Way Back

Although I can now easily find my way to Beaufort by land, there are other ways to reach the small town. By boat, dare I say?

Perhaps I’m not there yet, but I definitely took a step in the right direction this weekend. On Saturday evening I tagged along with a former CEM to an Aids to Navigation class offered by the Fort Macon Sail and Power Squadron. We spent the evening learning about beacons, buoys, chart symbols, and navigation aboard the Carolina Princess. I’m not sure I’d trust myself to navigate down the Intracoastal Waterway, but I can now tell you what the letters and numbers on a chart indicate, and why some buoys sport yellow squares and triangles, while others do not.

Setting out from Morehead City aboard the Carolina Princess.

In case you’re still thinking I’m a tad crazy to spend a majority of Friday and Sunday in my car, just for a short jaunt in Beaufort, I offer my last justification. This year, Beaufort was named one of America’s coolest small towns (tying with Hammondsport, N.Y). Now who can argue with that?

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