I can’t remember when an article here on the SSECN has brought about so much controversy as the one authored by the veteran cruising duo of Captains Susan Landry and Chuck Baier, concerning the Beaufort Town Docks, originally published on 10/28/13. While some agreed with Chuck and Susan, other cruisers were ardent supports of the Beaufort Town Docks, and some took real exception to Chuck and Susan’s review. Most troubling of all, in many cases there was a combative attitude expressed towards the reviewers, rather than a civil exchange of different points of view, experiences and an honest reporting of the facility’s stats and prices.
At Chuck and Susan’s request, we have removed their original article. However, we have left in place many of the subsequent contributions, both positive and negative, hoping that all this verbiage will help the cruising community make an informed decision about whether or not to patronize the Beaufort Town Docks.
We suggest you read all the messages below, and make up your own mind.
I would like to personally comment on two points originally raised in both Chuck and Susan’s article, and in the notes from Beaufort City Dock’s supporters. The nearby laundromat is located behind a local business called, “The General Store.” If your vessel is berthed near the eastern end of the dockage complex, this facility is indeed located just across the street. If you are on the western end of the docks, then it’s a walk of a block to a block and a half to “The General Store.”
Next, it is quite true that during the spring, summer and fall months, there is a LOT of foot traffic along the Beaufort boardwalk, only a few paces from the Beaufort Town Docks wet slips. This is a case of “you like it, or you don’t.” Karen and I always found the diversity of people and the energy they produced, one of the most delightful aspects of visiting Beaufort. Over the years we met more than a few fascinating people wandering the Beaufort boardwalk.
Not all cruisers will agree. Some like a more quiet and private dockage experience. And, I should also note, this high traffic situation is a not a typical marina dockage experience. I can only think of a handful of other Southeastern USA marinas where this much humanity is found within such close proximity of the docks. Again, you may like this, but if that’s not your thing, there are certainly alternatives that still allow a visit to Beaufort.
Let me also note that the responses below deal with Beaufort Town Docks, NOT the community of Beaufort, NC which remains one of the most popular ports of call anywhere on the AICW, and with GOOD reason! It also remains one of my personal favorite places anywhere, anytime!
Wherever you berth in Beaufort, or drop the hook, once you are ashore, Beaufort offers a range of attractions that are the envy of many a port of call. There is absolutely first rate dining available, particularly at places like Spouter Inn (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=90587) and Beaufort Grocery Company. Also, interesting shops dot the downtown landscape like grains of sand on a beach.
If you want to spend a night or two with solid ground under your feet, then Beaufort boasts a wonderful selection of B&B inns. We think the Pecan Tree Inn and the Ann Street Inn are particularly wonderful.
Is it time to reprovision, then Beaufort is ready for you. Taylor Creek Grocery, an unusually well outfitted mini-grocery store and deli, is located either just across the street, or within an easy one block walk (see http://cruisersnet.net/?p=90572). A walk of several more blocks will bring you to the Coastal Community Market (606 Broad St), with a great selection of organic and all-natural foods. And, Beaufort Town Docks does indeed have courtesy cars which allow for ready visits to the local supermarkets.
Beaufort is a wonderfully historic community. If you have not taken a dream-like stroll along Ann Street, and viewed the historic homes, not to mention their incredibly landscaped and well manicured lawns, you have simply missed some of the best that the cruising life has to offer. Don’t believe me, well just take a look at our Beaufort Photo Gallery (http://cruisersnet.net/beaufort-nc-photo-gallery/).
Then, there is the nearby North Carolina Mariner’s Museum, and particularly its adjacent (across the street) wooden boat building shop. Be sure to take a few moments to watch the craftsman at their work from the visitor’s gallery.
So, there is every reason to visit Beaufort, NC, and much to see and do (and eat). Again, the subject of this string of articles is the Beaufort Town Docks, and, as you will see below, there is a wide range of opinions, ranging from the mixed, to those who believe that the Beaufort Town docks are a fine facility. Again, we strongly suggest you take in all this verbiage, and make an informed decision for yourself.
However, wherever you park your vessel, don’t dare miss a visit to this wonderful and historic community!
We always anchor up Taylor Creek, a short dinghy ride up away from the docks. Unless you are rowing, there is no need to be in front of the docks. Better yet we go the Morehead city and stay at the Sanitary Restaurant.
Sad. Used to enjoy going there. The owners don’t “get it”.
Upon visiting again (still alongside) I feel compelled to respond to a recent review on Cruiser Net.
It saddens me when someone completely misses the point of a location.
The marina does have a local laundry facility, far better than a single washer and dryer and a four hour Que, there is a professional grade laundry service less than 100ft from the offices.
The trash is kept away from the boaters by perhaps 15ft from the dock head, nice and discrete by the car parks so as not to trouble us with fowl odors as we enjoy the views from the cockpit, or trip over the trash cans on the dock.
The docks float, so yes they can be made to wobble, nothing new there, unless you are used to securing on industrial wharfs on a millpond.
The marina staff are excellent at ensuring a vessel is safe and secure before they dash off to the next vessel requiring their services, for note I would suggest handing the upstream “Brake” line before the downstream one that is pointless when coming alongside on a tidal flow!
It is also vital to understand that most of the staff here have worked this location for decades, and are trying to assist more than one vessel at a time, when the bridge opens they are inundated with arrivals in a very short time frame, and work frantically to keep as many vessels safe as they are able.
One of the great charms of Beaufort City Docks is that the generally informed public can wander down to the boats and stop for a chat, I have met some truly wonderful people here and sincerely hope that the marina experience is not diluted by fort Knox type security gates!
I am surprised that anyone is upset by the marina rates, they can be obtained prior to arrival, and if you don’t like them there are plenty of more expensive choices nearby, or you could anchor off and try to make use of facilities you are not entitled to!!
I hope that people are able to read through the negative experience and understand that they are a minority. I can understand that goofing up your arrival may leave you with a sour taste.
For reference, the power posts are mounted through the docks, and upon inspection I can see they are through bolted, no nails evident upon the 4 x 4inch timbers.
The review above fails to mention how the quirky courtesy cars save an easy $30 round taxi trip to grocery facilities, this (if you are so minded) makes the mooring rates look more attractive ?
As a boater who has visited the Beaufort Docks at least 60 times since 1985, my experience has little in common with Landry and Baier’s. In the winter and spring of 2012-13, I cruised the ICW from North Carolina to St. Augustine, stopped at many marinas and came away with a greater appreciation of Beaufort Docks. No, Beaufort is not the cheapest marina – but it’s not the most expensive marina either, including some with fewer amenities.
In my view, Landry and Baier were unfairly critical of the Beaufort dockhands. On many occasions, the dockhands under veteran Dockmaster Jeb Brearey have skillfully guided my boat into a slip against tricky currents without incident. No, they don’t always hang around offering to plug in your power cord – it is, after all, a busy marina and they are often needed to help other boaters. I give the Beaufort guys credit for being most helpful when it counts. For example, they remain knowledgeable about weather conditions within 100 miles and are able to offer guidance to mariners. If you are arriving late, a dockhand will stay on duty to help you tie up. And they are familiar with local experts who can perform boat repairs at modest rates, as I know from experience.
I also disagree with your reviewers’ comments about the facilities. The bathrooms are not new, but they are cleaner and more spacious than those at most of the marinas I visited during my ICW trip. Your reviewers could have asked for a slip closer to the bathrooms if that was an issue for them, but even the most distant slips are a shorter walk to the bathhouse than at many other marinas.
The docks are in good condition, and while it is true that washers and dryers are in a private business that closes on Sundays, they are directly across the street from the marina – not “blocks away.” I am surprised your reviewers had trouble finding the trash cans, which are in enclosures spaced along the boardwalk. What’s more, recycling is available – a rarity elsewhere. As for the issue of security, well-placed placards limit access to boat owners and guests.
I urge all boaters visiting the area to stay at the Beaufort Docks. Be sure to take advantage of the complimentary beer or glass of wine that Beaufort Docks offers all visiting crewmembers and enjoy one of the jewels of the North Carolina coast.
Be advised that Captain Tillett’s remarks below refer to the original introductory text to Chuck and Susan’s article.
Dear Mr. Young,
As a long-time cruiser, resident of Beaufort – and, yes, part-time employee of Beaufort Docks, I found the recent review of Beaufort Docks on your website to be very troubling. The review by the owners of ‘Beach House’ was neither “in-depth” or “un-biased.” As a matter of fact, I found it to be largely inaccurate and vengeful. And, I might add, for you to say this cruising duo “nobly accomplished their goal” casts real doubt on your commitment to accuracy and fairness. To go so far as to encourage cruisers to seek alternatives to the Beaufort Docks based upon this one highly suspect review unfairly damages the reputation of the Beaufort Docks – if not that of the town of Beaufort in general.
I don’t know where to start in refuting this so-called “noble,” review. To begin with, the floating docks at Beaufort Docks are not narrow and unstable – far from it. There is one set of docks with smaller fingers on which smaller boats (Beach House) are placed. The remainder of the marina has full-size floating docks that are in very good condition. The reviewers, in their zeal, completely misrepresented the type and condition of the docks.
Not sure why the reviewers chose to criticize the “power posts” at Beaufort Docks unless it was because the one they hit didn’t stop their boat to their complete satisfaction. In actuality, the Beaufort Docks has several types of “power posts” in service – the smallest of which is constructed of 4×4 material — not 2×4! “Power posts” at Beaufort Docks a problem? Laughable.
To even mention wakes from passing boats at Beaufort Docks is a joke. I can’t recall the last time I witnessed Beaufort Docks being rocked significantly by a passing boat.
The laundry mentioned is not “a few blocks away.” It is directly across the street – no more than 30 yards from the marina office. Where did the reviewers come up with this stuff?
“Head stalls” at Beaufort Docks are of various sizes. To imply they are all “very narrow” is totally inaccurate. And, the showers are not “painted.” They are, in fact, fiberglass.
The reviewers cited location and availability of trash receptacles. This one is totally baffling, as groups of receptacles large enough to accept large bags of trash are positioned at three different spots along the boardwalk. They’re in wooden enclosures for esthetics, all readily accessible.
To imply Beaufort Docks needs some type of security gates to keep folks from wandering down on to the docks is totally out of touch with reality. This is yet another example of the reviewers “reaching” for a predetermined result.
Beaufort Docks doesn’t have “a courtesy car”. Beaufort Docks has multiple courtesy cars -beloved old Buick RoadMasters. They’re a joy to drive, often favorably commented on, a trip down memory lane.
There is not a pump out hose on each dock. There is one pump out hose located at one pump out station. And, yes, there is a fee. Is this unusual? Hardly.
No mention whatsoever of the fact Beaufort Docks delivers fuel to virtually every slip in the marina and that the wi-fi is state of the art – oh, excuse me, those are positives and would not fit into the reviewers narrative, would they?
“The marina really has nothing going for it other than location.”
The messages below were received after we published a summary of this message string in the 11/15/13 SSECN Alert. As you will see, there are, again, many different points of view. In a nod to our department of redundancy department, we again suggest that you read ALL this input and form your own impressions!
The comments on Beaufort are of interest to me, as one who loves Beaufort, and who has stayed at Beaufort Town Docks many times. I no longer stay there, as the cost has gotten way beyond what it should be. We were last there returning from Florida in April of 2010. At that time, we were charged $2.25 per foot, plus a higher than usual electricity charge. For such poor rest room facilities, which someone on this website once compared to 1950′s Boy Scout camp, and no laundromat, it is not worth it, no matter how wonderful Beaufort is. Yes, there is a laundromat across the street, BUT it is not open on Sundays, the day we happened to be there, and it is not part of the marina.
Now, we go to Morehead City, and walk or bike to Beaufort. The marina costs are reasonable, and the restrooms are very nice. I hope that at some point in the future the cost will come down. We love Beaufort.
Sanctuary and crew used to stop regularly at Beaufort City Docks. We gave it up as a stop several years ago. It’s the ambiance of the Town, certainly not the Marina experience, that makes the place at all desirable as a stop. The Marina experience is average to below average at the price point. Definitely, boater’s pay a premium to stop here. I liked the comment to “wait for slack.” What ill-considered advice that is to cruisers! When I’m tired and it’s getting toward sunset, or when I want to depart and get moving for my cruising day, that’s neither practical nor well-considered advice. I also liked the comment that only the fingers where “small boats like Beach House” are placed are narrow and wobbly. I guess that makes the fingers where I would be placed narrow and wobbly. It appears Susan and Chuck’s reporting is “correct,” confirmed by the admission of one who actually works there. Of course the marina *COULD* fix that, but I suggest one not look for conditions here to change. Enough people do stop that the town has no market incentive to change what it’s doing. They’re milking a cash cow, and for the locals, town revenue flowing from the marina beats local property taxes any day; property taxes they, themselves, do not have to build into their own cost recovery pricing. Management here (municipal government) is not motivated by customer service. So, I do support the recommendation to stop elsewhere in the area. Swift tidal currents and an average marina at above average prices? You can if you want to, but for us, “Nah!”
Jim and Peg Healy
It has been quite a while since we have used Beaufort City Dock. We used to stay there regularly because of atmosphere around, but this had nothing to do with the marina employees. We enjoyed music festivals and other venues convenient to the marina and also the plethora of eating places available. We did not mind that the laundry was across the street and although not really impressed with the baths, we found them adequate. What made us stop coming was the attitude of the docking personnel. They were RUDE. Sometimes we found docking just a bit difficult due to the very strong current. We had to listen to their constant criticism like, “well are you going to dock this boat or not.” We had no problem with the office personnel except maybe when one of the dock crew took over while the regular went to lunch. Consequently we either stayed at Town Creek Marina or just skipped Beaufort completely. Among our friends, we have heard the same stories. Also, the price per foot is astronomical. We were told that because they were the only game in town, they could do that. Would we call the marina cruiser friendly? Absolutely not! We even stopped anchoring in Taylor Creek a long time ago because of all the derelict boats anchored there and all the “private” mooring balls which probably have not been checked for ages. This is a real shame because Beaufort used to be one of our favorite stops.
Tom and Pat Denni
I could use pages describing the positives at Beaufort City Dock, but will not waste anyone’s time refuting the negative comments made against this facility & it’s staff. THEY MUST HAVE A PERSONAL PROBLEM. Keep up the great work at my semi-annual home away from home.
Thomas J Comber
All I can say is that Chuck & Susan on Trawler Beach House sound like very very novice cruisers. Yes the curent may run fast, but as the captian its your decision when to dock..maybe next time wait for slack! Do not depend on dock hsnds saving your docking experience.
I am sure you will find more expensive and poorer condition dock on the ICW. Enjoy cruising and except each new place as a grant adventure.
We spent two week this spring and enjoyed every minute!
OK, I have to weigh in. I’ve been visiting Beaufort by water since 1985 and it remains a “must” stop on the ICW. I must admit to not having used the municipal docks in a few years, but I have tied up there numerous times. It can be a very difficult place to get in and out of, particularly when the current and wind are strong. This often leads to unpleasant docking situations, which can color your entire stay there. Personally, if at all possible, I temporarily anchor until the current is slack and the wind is reasonable or else you are in for an exciting time of it. There are times when you I wouldn’t go anywhere near the docks–too tricky to get in there safely, no matter how wonderful the dock attendants. And, I have had some very difficult exits too. However, the laundromat, even though it is across the street, is one of the best close to the ICW–I suspect I have used it 20-30 times at least. Can’t comment on the restrooms or the power posts as I haven’t tied up there in a few years. I will only add that a visit at any marina is often shaped by the people you meet, whether it is the marina staff or the locals, and you will probably meet quite a few in Beaufort strolling along the waterfront. Mostly they have been great, but occasionally you get too much noise at night or someone asking too many questions while you’re trying to tie up in that current.
We’ve stayed at Beaufort Docks twice a year (North & Southbound between FL and NY) since 2005. We have never had a bad experience at this Marina. The Dockhands have always been helpful, their instructions clear and the Marina has let us use their ‘lender cars’ when we needed them. We enjoy the local residents walking the docks and chatting with them. When I read the original post, I wondered if they were speaking about the same place that we have always enjoyed. Judge for yourselves folks…
We have docked Vouivre at Beaufort Docks several times in the past, with our last stay being in October. We were traveling with friends in their boat Island Passage. The dockhands met our friends boat first (larger boat); got them tied up and then they were very responsive and helpful in getting us tied up. Both were very friendly too. Docking at Beaufort Docks, we enjoy being right there close to all the shops in town. Getting the chit for a beer was also nice. As far as the dockage rates, while they may be higher than some, they are also lower than other locations we’ve stayed. The marina is in a prime location and I would expect that their local taxes are higher than other less desirable locations; thus the need for them to set their fees at that rate. Bottom Line: If you want to enjoy being close to all the action, you may need to pay more….
There is a lot less current at the marinas in Morehead City and a lot more protection. And the “Praise” comments mentioned the cheapest, under 35ft rate or $1.95, not the $2.30 rate that applies to boats over 36ft. While the dock crew is indeed good in Beaufort, they have to be because the location is swept with current and the channel occupied by untended boats on moorings, none of which exist at the other options available in the area. Beaufort simply overcharges for a less attractive boating experience. If that appeals, great.