Walking along the boardwalk, I happened upon a band of pirates led by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow. This was the second Jack Sparrow I’d seen in the past 20 minutes, but this one was a good bit more convincing than the first. He had the half-staggered walk down pat and greeted me with a spot-on, lilting, “Hello, Mate.” I was in the town of Beaufort (that’s Bo’ Fort) for a weekend class on wooden boat-building at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Coincidentally, it also happened to be the weekend of the Beaufort Pirate Invasion. I was completely unaware of this fact when I registered for the class and only figured it out when I started calling around to book a room and found the first four or five places I tried were full — some 30 days in advance.
Beaufort sits at the southern end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks near the deep-water port of Morehead City. Settled in the 1700’s, largely by New Englanders, the town has a distinctly northern coastal vibe similar to the small fishing villages I have visited in Maine and Massachusetts. Furthering this connection is the local whaling history. While not as productive or well-known as places like New Bedford or Nantucket, the Southern Outer Banks region was a modest contributor to the whaling industry of the 19th century, a legacy documented in great detail by a display at the wonderful North Carolina Maritime Museum on Front Street. Continue reading