Emerald Isle's Changing Sands

A vacation along the Crystal Coast is often remarkable for what has not changed. Year after year the waters are still emerald colored and as clear as crystal.

No matter when you come, there is still plenty of room on the beach, and the fresh local seafood always tastes great.

While the Crystal Coast portion of the
Southern Outer Banks has far more dense vegetation than many strands of sand, still along the shores and at the ends of the beaches, water and wind can make some substantial changes in a short period of time.

When I was a teenager back in the sixties, I first visited the Point at Emerald Isle with my Uncle Austin. We had to take my old four wheel drive Bronco a few miles down the undeveloped beach just to get there.

In 2007 I bought my first beach driving permit from the town of Emerald Isle. I wanted to go fishing once again on the Point. Within a week the access to the Point was closed and
the Point had practically disappeared at least at high tide. Over the past few years things have definitely changed again.

If you walked the beaches to the east of the Point in the last couple of years, it was pretty easy to notice the wide expanse of sand building in the area. These beaches have become very impressive and perhaps some of the best on North Carolina's coast.

By December 2008, a build-up of sand brought the Point back above the water even at high tide. The
access was repaired and things started looking more normal. Last summer the sand continued to grow along the edges. To the east a shallow arm of water had formed. It turned out to be a favorite spot for small and big children.

Unfortunately further accumulations of sand cut the water off from the ocean, and it needed to be filled in with sand from dredging. Still the Inlet seemed pretty stable last summer. We had a great time fishing in it and enjoying the boat accessible beaches.

I have walked on the Point a few times during the last year, and while I knew the sand was continuing its progress toward the Inlet, I did not realize the extent of the growth of the Point until we made our first boat trip out in May. Another trip or two has confirmed that the next challenge is not keeping the Point above water but making sure Bogue Inlet stays open for boat traffic.

When you are riding out Bogue Inlet's channel, and you can see people walking not far from the boat channel, you know things have changed massively. From the number of people we can see enjoying the new sands of the Point, it is clear that Mother Nature's changes are very popular with visitors and long term residents.

As a boater and fisherman I have not decided yet. The sands of the Inlet change every year. Last year we found some great structure and had a lot of fun fishing in the Inlet. So far this year, we are still looking for those magic places. Winds and hot weather have limited our explorations so I remain hopeful that the fish will show up, and we will soon figure out the new topography of Bogue Inlet.

One thing that I know for sure is that about the time I have it all figured out, it will change once again either from a storm or just normal winds and currents. That change is just part of life along the Crystal Coast.

Links to more pictures and information about the Point can be found in this article,
Big changes at the Point.

How to Enjoy a Coastal River

There are some things in life that are just plain fun. Taking a boat down an empty coastal river early in the morning is on that list. Actually it is probably in the top ten small pleasures in life.

I feel fortunate to be able to make that river run whenever I have a few extra minutes. As long as the tides and winds are cooperating, it is a great way to start a day off with some wind in your face.

North Carolina's large coastal rivers are wonderful places for boats and pure fun. Our neighborhood river, the White Oak, which separates Onslow and Carteret Counties, is a great backyard.

I keep my boating gear ready to go at any time. All I have to do is grab a couple of water proof gear bags and our throw pillow. The bags contain our GPS, registration, cell phone, and a few other emergency items.

When I step on the boat, I mount the GPS, put the plug in and cast off the lines.

Then I lower the lift into the water until the skiff floats free, start the engine and back it off the lift. It only takes three or four minutes to idle out our Inlet to the river. Once in the river, you usually need to pick up speed just a little to maintain control of the boat.

We have a well dredged channel in
Bluewater Cove, but I still pay attention to the depth of the water that shows on the depth finder. As I approach red buoy 16, which is the first marking the channel to Swansboro, I make a left turn and give the boat enough throttle to bring it up on plane.

Once the boat is up on top of the water, I just enjoy the ride down the river.
It is a wonderful trip, you can get something of an idea of the scenery by checking out this
virtual tour. There are just enough turns to make the trip a lot of fun. With no one else on the river, I usually run at close to 30 miles per hour.

With the water glassy smooth, you sort of slide around the turns. Of course that is even more fun than going straight. When I get to the bridge in Swansboro, I will slow the boat down to where it is not making any wakes.

I actually enjoy poking along the harbor. No much changes, but it is still
fun to see everything from the water. Once I have checked everything out, I will turn and head back to the bridge and eventually up river.

Usually the trip back home takes about ten minutes. If I have gotten out early enough, I will still have the river to myself. Running back up the river will be just as much fun as going down the river. My whole adventure usually takes about thirty minutes.

If you get a chance, do not pass up the opportunity to have a big river all to yourself. You will get hooked on it. More pictures of boating on the river and sound are available at
my Picasa web albums site.

Taking a ride down the river is a nice diversion from all
the dry, hot weather we are enduring.