My wife and I took a vacation down to Atlantic Beach which is on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands. We usually go to Hatteras or Ocracoke, but this year we thought we’d try somewhere new. I have a thing for photographing lighthouses as an excuse to get out and explore, so we decided somewhere within sailing distance of Cape Lookout would be interesting. The morning started out with pretty light winds from astern. I really could have used my topsail I’ve been tinkering with, but it’s not quite ready for prime time yet.

Leaving Anchorage Marina. Pretty narrow through here, especially under oars.

Heading across Beaufort Inlet with the Atlantic off to the right. The number of boats that passed me was incredible, and it only got worse throughout the day. Boat wakes came from all directions and the channel was pretty narrow in places. Fortunately it was all downwind and the wind was predicted to shift to a beam reach on the way back.

On the sound side of the uninhabited Shackleford Banks. After bouncing through boat wakes I decided to raise the centerboard, let the rudder pop into barn door mode, and cut through the marshy islands. This not only gave me interesting things to look at and navigate around, but it also massively cut down on the number of other people.

Although not everyone… this guy was out buzzing boaters in his Jet Ski of the sky. He didn’t get super close to me, but my wife got a video of him flying down the beach.

What I thought were watermen off in the distance turned out to be feral horses grazing in the marsh! Supposedly they came from Spanish or English shipwrecks during the age of discovery and genetic testing does seem to indicate their line dates back 400 years. I was feeling pretty lucky to see them, but after sailing further I saw tons more all over the island. Must be a tough life eating marsh grass and drinking brackish water.