Destination: Historic Beaufort, NC

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Last year, due to COVID-19 we did no long distance cruising. For this year’s journey, we spent our final night at home on the boat, so we could get an early start . On July 12, 2021 at 7:01 AM we cast off from the dock, idled under the Ben Sawyer, and began CruisingTheICW north!

First stop, Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown, SC. “Slow Dance” seems happy to be cruising again! Since returning from our 2019 summer on the Chesapeake, she’s gotten a new stateroom air conditioning unit, windless, the head serviced, new generator water pump, the hull waxed and new bottom paint, beautiful new Eisenglass for the upper helm, and last but not least, the annual service of the main engine, generator, and transmission. Since 2006, the main engine and generator’s oil has been changed every 100 hours, not counting the annual service done prior to departure for our multi-week cruises. Though we didn’t put 100 hours on her during COVID-2020, we adopted the rule of service annually or every 100 hours, which ever comes first.

While it’s rare for us to spend less than two nights in Georgetown, for a variety of reasons we had to keep pushing back our departure, so Georgetown was just an overnight stop on this journey. As always, Harbormaster Chris and his crew provided excellent service and a beautifully clean facility. And added bonus, it’s hard to remember when we’ve gone into Harborwalk and not seen at least one large and beautiful yacht docked there. If you’re CruisingTheICW through South Carolina, and have never visited Georgetown, put it on your itinerary. It’s a quaint little historic town with a harbor, Southern hospitality, good restaurants, SC Maritime Museum, and shopping,

Second stop, Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, Little River, SC. Since 2017 when we began our summer CruisingTheICW north, the yacht club has been our second night’s destination. Why? Reasonable dock fees, traditionally great fuel prices, great and reasonably priced food at The Officer’s Club private dining for transients and members, and as always, an accommodating and professional crew to help with docking and most anything else we might need. Unfortunately, the The Officer’s Club is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so for the Admiral and me, there’s always next time!

Third stop, Seapath Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach, NC. When we began CruisingTheICW north in 2017, we made it a point to spend at least a couple of nights in Wrightsville Beach to visit with old friends. Sadly, an old best friend, Bruce Allcorn, the friend that always met us at the dock no matter where we stayed in Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach, passed away unexpectedly last October. This year’s visit without Bruce was tough. To know the guy was to love him. Our friendship went back over 50-years to our high school days and love of Austin Healey 3000s. At his celebration of life last May, the only person in attendance to have known him longer than me, was his older brother. Memories, so many memories.

“Beach Music,” the perfect name for a beautiful vintage Hatteras yacht built in North Carolina, home of beach music and beach bands like the incredible Embers, who made the song, “I Love Beach Music” famous.

Seapath Yacht Club is only a couple of hundred yards “off the ICW,” with limited transient slips, but a quiet, sheltered place to overnight. Their new shower facility has to be one the newest and nicest on the ICW. Another plus is their proximity to some of the finest dining in Wrightsville Beach. For many reasons, Wrightsville Beach will forever be on our northbound cruise itinerary.

Next stop, the new Town Docks at Swansboro, NC. In years past, we visited Swansboro by car, and a couple of years we stopped by the town docks for Kate the Mate’s “nature call.” When I recently read that reservations could now be made for overnights at the docks, we decided to overnight there instead of having such a long day getting to Beaufort. While walking around Swansboro that afternoon, we stopped by the visitors center and learned the town is in the process of putting in shower baths and a washer and dryer for transients’ use, in the Swansboro Visitors Center. While the visitors center is not adjacent to the docks, the new facilities will be no further away than those of some other marinas we’ve visited. It’s great to see small towns like Swansboro welcoming ICW transient boaters. To many, the ICW is their “intrastate highway.”

On to Beaufort, our first multi-night stop this summer. In 2018, our departure from home was scheduled around getting us to Beaufort in time for the Admiral to celebrate her July 4th birthday there. This year it was scheduled around getting her to Beaufort in time to enjoy Saturday’s Farmer’s Market! I’m happy to say we made it.

Like Georgetown, Beaufort is a favorite stopping point for large yachts, and this year was no exception. As we entered the Beaufort harbor, the 142′ superyacht, “MISSING LINK” could not be missed. Owned by Jack Link, of America’s #1 Jerky Brand, “MISSING LINK” was designed and built by US builder, Christensen Shipyards at their Vancouver shipyard. The yacht’s interior was designed by Carol Williamson and Associates.

On the right of the photograph is “MISSING LINK,” and on the left is “Slow Dance.” “MISSING LINK” travels with an Invincible center console launch that is the approximate length of “Slow Dance.” It can be seen perpendicular on the other side of the dock between “MISSING LINK” and “Slow Dance.”

We first “discovered”Beaufort when my parents bought a little place on Harker’s Island, a short distance from Beaufort. When visiting the island, Beaufort was where we went for dinner and shopping. Today, we enjoy Beaufort Town Docks, but it’s not the only marina in Beaufort. When staying there, we can walk or cycle most anywhere around town. But, others we’ve met while cruising swear by Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina, the full service Town Creek Marina, and the new Beaufort Yacht Basin.

What to do in Beaufort. Having spent my career in the travel industry, I’m about the worst tourist you will ever meet. We love to travel, but when we visit a destination, we enjoy getting local input on things to do. While rarely do we visit every attraction and museum in the local visitors’ guide! But, in Beaufort, there are some things I’d encourage doing.

  • Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum
  • Beaufort Historic Site and Museum Visitors Center
  • Old Beauforte Farmers Market (A Saturday event)
  • Water tours ~ there is a myriad of water tours offered in Beaufort. Though I’ve never taken one, but I would encourage a visitor to Beaufort or Morehead City to take two specific water tours, (1) a tour that takes you to Cape Lookout Lighthouse, (2) a tour that takes you to the 5,400 acre Rachel Carson Coastal Equestrian Preserve or the Shackleford Banks to see the beautiful wild horses in their natural habit.
  • For detailed information about the many reasons to visit Beaufort, Morehead City, and all the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, visit the Crystal Coast of NC.

Dining in Beaufort. Years ago when we came to Beaufort from Harker’s Island for dinner, Clawson’s was the old standby. Today there are a number of quality restaurants from which to choose. Some of our favorites within easy walking distance of the marina are Finz, Black Sheep Beaufort, Front Street Grill, The Spouter Inn, Ribeyes Steakhouse, Mezcalito Beaufort, and of course, the old standby, Clawson’s.

Historic Beaufort, Morehead City, and the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. Great cruising destinations.

“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” Henry David Thoreau

Humble and Kind. Bruce Fredrick Allcorn.

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December 23, 1945 – October 18, 2020

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, family and friends gathered at Long Leaf Park, in Wilmington, NC to celebrate Bruce Allcorn’s life. My guess is that somewhere in heaven, he was looking down, shaking his head, and saying to himself, “What are y’all doing?” Bruce was never one to draw attention to himself.

While he may have been shaking his head at the thought of us coming together to talk about him, he was probably grinning at the car show that evolved. Bruce was a member of two British Car Clubs, and as a “motorhead,” he had a number of friends with some pretty amazing other cars, too. I doubt that anyone in attendance had a garage to match his – a garage with a lift that allowed him to do about 99% of maintenance and repairs of his two incredibly beautiful Austin-Healey 3000s, and his equally incredible 1972 Jaguar sedan. Neither of the cars had been driven in the rain during their years in his possession. For rainy days, he depended on his Toyota Tacoma pickup.

While the cars driven there to honor him were beautiful, nothing could match the words of family and friends that paid tribute to a man that could not possibly have had an enemy. He was that kind of guy. Following his unexpected death during the COVID-19 months, his niece, Amber beautifully planned the celebration of his life. On each table at our park shelter were framed photographs of Bruce, from childhood to the present. They were reminders of the great friend we’d all lost. We shared her emotions as she welcomed everyone, and introduced those of us that could speak. I say, “could speak,” because it became obvious, emotions prevented more “Bruce stories.”

His brother, Luther – who was the only one in attendance that knew Bruce longer than me – started us off with childhood stories that brought smiles and laughter. As we listened and remembered Bruce, we could easily believe every word Luther spoke. For me, his stories brought back memories of our high school days, and thereafter, when we were connected by our Austin-Healey 3000s, and fun times at his family’s beautiful homeplace.

Following Luther, Bruce’s first friend to speak brought laughter when he described Bruce as having the mindset of an old woman in a man’s body. Yes, he could be stubborn, outspoken, and yes, there was always the right way, wrong way, and Bruce’s way of getting things done. But he never failed to get things done, and he never failed his friends.

With humor, a female friend told of coming to the realization that Bruce was simply Bruce, and accept it or not, he wasn’t changing. She also realized that in so many ways, she was just like him, so she accepted that with Bruce, “what you see is what you get.” She embraced it for a long and loyal friendship.

Another friend “spoke” for most of us when she got up to speak, but tearful emotions prevented the words from coming out. We all understood.

Bruce was part of a group of guys that met routinely for morning coffee. In 2019, as usual, Carolyn and I spent a couple of days visiting with him while cruising north. At our next stop, the Beaufort (NC) Docks Marina, in Beaufort, NC, I met one of his “coffee drinking” buddies while admiring his beautiful, antique, wooden yacht. When I mentioned having visited a friend in Wilmington, he asked my friend’s name. At the sound of Bruce’s name, he laughed, “Bruce is one of my coffee buddies!” I took a picture of us on the boat, and texted it to Bruce. The immediate response was, “Don’t believe a thing he tells you about me!” Yes, everyone that knew Bruce, had a story to tell.

A neighbor told a more serious story that spoke of the heart of the friend we’d lost. Sometime after an elderly neighbor’s husband passed away, her air conditioner had failed, and she could not afford to replace it. When Bruce heard of her dilemma, he quietly replaced her air conditioner at his expense. Sometime later, he did the same when he learned her television had failed. To say Bruce Allcorn had a big heart, is an understatement.

Bruce loved cats. He had a couple of “house cats,” and a host of feral ones that he provided food, his climate controlled garage as a home, and medical attention when they needed it. Once when we were talking, he said he’d spoken to a neighbor about looking after his cats if anything ever happened to him. How many others would have done the same?

When it came my turn to speak, I told the only story I figured I might be able to tell without losing my composure. It was intended as a humorous – but true – version of a beach trip we once took in my Healey, when we had to decide between luggage or the convertible top. We chose luggage. Thanks to Mother Nature it could have been a very bad decision and wet trip home, if not for the big, fast Lincoln Continental that we fell in behind leaving Morehead City, and let the rain blow over us for the next couple of hours!

But, there were two stories I wish I could have told, because they also spoke to the heart and soul of the friend we’d lost. In January 2018, Bruce attended our annual chicken stew for the first time. It’s an event where I spend the entire day cooking the stew in an old, 20-gallon, cast iron pot, under our raised back porch. He spent part of the day providing “moral support” before going upstairs that evening to spend time with our neighbors, family, and friends. Later that evening, I took a break to see what was happening upstairs. Before going back down, I noticed Bruce walking out our front door, with his pipe in hand. I figured he was just going out to sit in the front porch swing and puff on his pipe for a few minutes. When he didn’t return, I waited until morning to call him. When I told him that I missed telling him goodbye, he said, “Dickie, I don’t like goodbyes, I just leave and look forward to seeing you later.”

I wish my emotions would have also allowed me to tell the story of his favorite coffee, Coffee 1820 Clasico. He kept a supply of one pound bags of whole bean on hand, and introduced us to it. We shared his love of grinding whole beans, fresh each morning. Last November when I was writing about his passing, I included the following, “As I write this, I’m enjoying a cup of Coffee 1820 Clasico. Last night when I was putting the beans for this morning’s brew into the grinder, I read something that I had never noticed on the front of the bag, “Always with you.” I can’t help but wonder if it was one of the reasons Bruce enjoyed sharing bags of that coffee with friends. Two things are certain – Bruce’s friends will forever remember him fondly, and as Carolyn said, “Cruising through Wrightsville Beach will never be the same without seeing Bruce standing on the dock waiting to greet us.”

Humble and kind. Those two words best describe the late Bruce Allcorn, but to those of us who knew him, he was so much more. Intelligent. Sincere. Humorous. Compassionate. Honest. A proud Navy veteran. A son that always joined his older brother annually in paying respects to their deceased parents. An uncle that had no children, but loved his niece and her family with all his heart. “Always with you.” The kind of friend we should all wish for. The kind of friend we should all strive to be. To Bruce, it was simply a way of life, and had been for all the years I knew him.

Rest In Peace, Brother. Rest In Peace.