Cape Lookout

We didn’t waste any time in getting moving again! Our friend Paul showed up the same evening that Stan left. We had big plans to leave early the following morning from Oriental to Cape Lookout. The Beaufort Inlet can be a nasty beast, and we were a little worried what the trip might look like for us. We haven’t actually taken the big boat out into the ocean yet…

We woke up early the next morning to thunder, lightning and rain, and promptly called off the whole thing.

Paul made a coffee run that morning, and we all fueled up on caffeine and sat around the table solidifying our plans to stay put. After the caffeine kicked in, our nervous hesitations began to burn off and our old plans blossomed a new, in a less committed fashion. We figured we could go to Taylor Creek, just a hop away from the Cape, and decide from there if we wanted to go all the way or anchor till morning. Sometimes, you just have to un-commit before you can muster up the balls to follow through.

Another friend in times of sedentary indecisiveness, is caffeine. Before we knew it, we were untying our dock lines and heading out! The morning showers had subsided, and the threat of more were definitely looming, but not acute.

We put in some Jimmy Buffet that to us on the boat for us to get the mood right. Emilia had quite the dance party.

The ride to Taylor creek was pretty quick and painless.

A little too quick. There was no hesitation, we just kept right on going to the cape.

The total distance from Oriental, NC to the cape is about 30 Nautical Miles. 8 of those miles are off shore, a small section of ocean from the inlet to the bite of Cape Lookout.

We timed our inlet adventures for slack tide. We have been through the inlet in rough conditions before, and wanted badly to avoid that.

It didn’t seem to help much.

And so we kept on. Why? I don’t know, sometimes turning around in the face of discomfort feels even more uncomfortable than continuing on.

Emilia slept through most of it, thank god. It felt like a janky carnival ride with loose screws and questionable ride operators. The waves were 1 1/2 – 4 feet with no time in between. We let the jib fly hoping it would stabilize the boat some and give us more speed to shave off every possible minute of the disquiet. We should have raised the main but the wind was gusting over 15 and the boat was a little too rocky for us to confidently raise it up and stay on deck. (Yes, we are adding jack lines to our list of things to do.) At least we knew we would have some repose once we got out of the inlet

Just kidding.

It was a rickety ass carnival ride the entire way to the bite. (The videos really don’t do it justice)

We managed to skirt the afternoon thunderstorms during our bumpy ocean trek. Looking back, we probably should have traversed the inlet in the morning hours, before the winds picked up and the storms could jostle the seas.

Cape Lookout will never disappoint.

In the 1960’s, Cape Lookout became a National Sea Shore, protecting it from the imminent development that was pending. It is an absolutely serene place, and I shudder to think what it would be like with high rises and condos slapped along the dunes. It’s unreal to walk alone on the entire beach of this undeveloped barrier island on the East Coast.

We dropped anchor and went to shore for some shell hunting and cast netting.

We fished for dinner but only caught sharks. Again. What’s the deal?

Despite all the baby sharks we caught, we went for a swim around the boat, and surprised Emilia through the emergency escape hatch.

During the two nights we spent there, we saw dolphins and sea turtles, and the evenings gave us a luminous show of stars in the night sky and bioluminescence in the water. Pure magic.

I may have been a little grumpy on the second day of our trip, but it was probably because I was so damn worried about the inlet ride going back. If slack tide didn’t help lessen the bump, what would? Certainly not wind and tide colliding. Which was unfortunately going to be our only window back in the morning. We didn’t want to risk waiting until the wind and waves had time to build into the afternoon.

There are so many things to look for when planning whether or not to go out:

wave height

wave distance



wind and tide together


I guess you just have to keep going out until all the pieces come together to give you a big picture. Right now, I can’t seem to put all those factors into the right graph chart to tell me whether or not its a good time to go out.

That morning we left at dawn and it was already proving to be much smoother than our previous adventure.

We even hoisted both the sails.

It was effortless and drama free. The wind and tide were opposing each other when we got to the channel, but the wind was light, and the tide was with us. So maybe it’s just the intensity of some of those factors that matter most. Not so much their order.

Who knows..?


anyone? I’ll take any advice anyone wants to throw out there!

We made it back to the shrimp boats of the Neuse

And tucked ourselves into the protected harbor of Oriental.

Adam did a stellar job of docking our boat. Until he realized he was pulling us into the wrong slip. But he did a great job the second time too.

I think the hardest part about docking the boat is knowing that everyone is watching us. I mean, maybe I’m just being paranoid and somewhat narcissistic. I did meet a neighbor the other day and when I pointed to our boat he said “Oh yeah, I saw you guys pull in.” That must have been entertaining.

He was incredibly nice and even offered his downstairs apartment to us in case there was a big storm or if we just wanted to get off the boat for a night.

Oriental really does cater to sailors. Heart and soul. His kindness made me feel warm and welcome, and incredibly grateful to have secured a place here.

5 responses to “Cape Lookout”

  1. Great sense of story, with excellent accompanying photos! I loved the “escape hatch” photo the best!

  2. Beautiful beach at Cape Lookout. I loved the early morning pictures. Did you see Lighthouse ?

    1. We usually anchor out so far from the lighthouse, but the first time we went we did go check it out. It’s classic and worth it for sure

  3. The pictures and the story was fantastic. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Thank you for these great sea stories. Keep on sailing!

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