25 April 2010
Saturday, May 1, was a magnificent spring beach day. When I got up in the morning, I knew the air felt different. It was my lucky day. My boat ended up being my office. I took a client up the White Oak river from Bluewater Cove to River Oaks Plantation.
He had been wanting to take the trip since February, and I kept telling him to wait for some decent weather. Today was more than decent weather, it was wonderful weather for being on the beach. It was a little windy for a serious boat ride, but it was fine for the short trip that we took up the river. After my boat trip, some lunch, and few more yard chores, we headed off to the beach.
The temperature when we left the house in Bluewater Cove was about eight-five degrees Fahrenheit. When I glanced at it over on the shore, it was seventy eight degrees. The big surprise was that the island was filled with a strong showing of visitors this first weekend in May.
Traffic was not bad through Emerald Isle at 3:30 PM, but Jordan's Seafood already had a good crowd. We had planned to go to the the Eastern Regional Access but when we got there, it was packed. We decided to go on up the beach to the Third Street Beach Access to see if we could fine a less crowded spot.
Luck was with us, there were only two cars in the small parking lot. We walked up the ramp to the beach acces, and my wife said that it would be nice to see a different beach than Third Street. When we got up to the small observation deck, it was pretty obvious that the beach was far different than any other of the many times that we have visited. The water was so low that you could see the shallow trough of water just off the shore.
Being the brave soul that I am, I waded through the waters which got just above my knees. When I climbed up on the small sandbar, I knew that it was the right spot to take some pictures I was so excited about getting a few new photos that I hardly felt the sixty-five degree water, After the first thirty seconds it was refreshing and not even cold.
On a hot summer day, word of a great shallow swimming area for children like we saw at Third Street on Saturday would quickly travel the length of the Island. I saw dozens of young children frolicking in something very similar at the Point off Inlet drive last summer, Today I took several shots including one of a A Ruddy Turnstone.
As the water started coming up on my little island, I decided to wander back to the shore. I stopped on the shore to take some more photos, and a bikini clad lady walking along the beach stopped to compliment me on my tee-shirt which suggests that life is better if you quit your job and get a tan.
The beach walker turned out to be from Denver, North Carolina. It was her first trip to Emerald Isle. She had already fallen in love with our beaches. She seemed pleased that we were not another Myrtle Beach and that our night life consists of walking the beaches.
After our wonderful visit to the beach, we drove back to the Food Lion at Emerald Plantation. There we picked up some strip steaks that were on sale, Our next trip was to visit a friend who had offered us a second batch of fresh lettuce from his garden.
With all our errands done, we headed home where my wife fixed a salad while I grilled our steaks. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day. I suspect that I will never forget wading across that trough of cool ocean waters to the small island of sand. It was almost too beautiful. I posted a few of the pictures just to keep the memories of the day fresh.
I also did a YouTube movie of a surfer with a kite. We really enjoyed watching the surfer. He did a great job staying upright. After thirty minutes of being pulled up and down the beach, he came ashore. I suspect his Saturday night's sleep was very sound.
One of the great things about living on the Crystal Coast is the weather that we get to enjoy. For the most part we have a very moderate climate with weather just cold enough so that you can have a taste of winter.
For the first time in years back in February, we actually had a few inches of snow on the ground for a couple of days. No one was very upset with the snow since it is such a rare occurrence.
In spite of snow visiting some northern areas recently, spring has been here for a long time. I planted my tomatoes on March 24, and there has not been any frost since then here along the water. Still It was just last weekend that area strawberries started appearing on local produce stands.
Spring was a little slow arriving, but after its arrival, spring is hanging around when most of us would like to see some real warmth.
Yesterday I had my wife drop me off at the access to the Point at Emerald Isle. I wanted to walk out and see how the added sand from this winter's dredging looked. In the distance I could see a handful of four wheel drive vehicles parked and their occupants working to catch some of the first fish of the season.
It is only in the best of times that the waters at the Point are fairly calm. Those are the days on the water that we really cherish. Yesterday's waters off the Point were probably calmer than they had been earlier in the week. The picture with this post are the waters just off the Point snapped on Thursday of this week. Based on the winds early in the week, the waters look pretty good.
On Monday we took some visitors to Beaufort. On our way back down the beach, we stopped at the Iron Steamer beach access. I walked out to the beach to take a few pictures. When I left the car, my visitors were following me. It was very windy on the beach. I took a few quick pictures, and then I turned to look for my friends. They were nowhere in sight. I thought perhaps they had taken the boardwalk entrance while I had followed the vehicle entrance. However, some searching failed to turn them up. As I turned to walk back to the car, I could see them already back in the car. I guess they found the sand blasting of their ankles a little uncomfortable. I had hardly noticed.
It was just one of those days in the spring when the wind is blowing enough to keep almost all the boats at the dock. We had seen a few boats moving around in Beaufort's sheltered harbor, but most people were wisely staying tied up at the dock.
While the winds have made going out on the water challenging, it has been a pleasure watching the land warm up. My tomatoes are growing well, and I even have one that is the size of a hen's egg. I have enjoyed the area's beautiful azaleas and now the knockout roses are coming on strong. This morning when I was walking back from the mailbox with the morning's newspaper, I paused to enjoy how green things are here on the land.
While we are waiting for the area's waters to warm, the seas to calm, and the winds to die down, it is truly a pleasure watching spring unfold. While part of me would like to rush spring so that I get my boat out into the water, another part of me knows that I need to slow down and enjoy this part of the year. The temperatures at night are perfect for sleeping, and the heat pumps hardly run. It is a time of the year on the the Crystal Coast when we know that the best is yet to come. We will have plenty of heat soon enough. Likely we will be wishing for cool air before June gets here.
In spite of all that, I can hardly wait for that heat, and temperatures into the eighties this weekend are not going to make it easier
Finally the beach vegetation is showing signs of life. The light green beach grasses as you walk onto the beach are a welcome sight. This time of year I like the grasses more than the blue water which I know is still a chilly sixty-five degrees.
Even the marsh grasses in Bogue Sound are turning green. With that happening, it will not be long before the Crystal Coast is a paradise of blue and green with golden sunsets. When Spring gets to this point, it is one of my favorite times.
The temperatures during the day are nearly perfect with a warm Carolina sun, and at night we often have cool temperatures which make for great sleeping weather. Also while the fresh strawberries have come a little later this year than in the previous few years, they herald the beginning of the fresh local produce season. All this is enough to start me dreaming about past summers.
The one thing that is certain about the weather is that it is uncertain. Our first summer here the cool spring like weather lasted almost to the first week in July. Another summer we had some of the hottest weather of the season the first week of June when temperatures rose into the low nineties which is about as hot as it ever gets around the Crystal Coast.
Today in spite of the strong winds, the temperatures managed to get close to eighty degrees. After church I was working in our yard, and I got hot. Then two hours later the temperature dropped ten degrees as a front went through, and the winds picked up. By the time we went out to dinner with some friends, it was even cooler and some fog had formed. Later when we drove over to the Emerald Isle Food Lion for some eggs and English muffins for breakfast, the air as we got out of the car felt like a warm spring evening. More importantly it smelled like the beach in summer. In the winter you do not get the same experience.
With everything looking and smelling like spring, it is easy to start dreaming about some great some days on the water and on the beach. One that sticks in my memory is last July 15 which I deemed a perfect beach day. The combination of the water, the sky, and the temperature was as good as it gets. As a photographer I found the rich colors that day just amazing.
Actually it was only last June when we got an early spell of warmth which convinced me to take my first dip of the year. The temperatures were warm enough that the still slightly cool salt water felt great. That warm early June day has also stuck in my memory.
There are lots of memories from last summer that are set to soon be triggered. We just got our first green tomato. It has me thinking of those first tasty tomato sandwiches which I hope we will be enjoying the first week of June.
Last Friday we took our first ride down the White Oak River where I got to wear shorts and a tee shirt. I felt like I was really back out on the river. Conditions were not perfect, but I always think the first warm weather trip on the water is special.
It will not be long before we catch the first fish of the season. That reminds me that I should go get my fishing license renewed before that first fish gets on the hook. If the winds will drop down some this week, I might just put the kayak in the water. It was just a couple of years ago that I caught the first fish of the year from my kayak. It was a nice flounder that I caught just at the mouth of the Bluewater Cove inlet. I had it cleaned, cooked, and on our plates just a few minutes after it was caught.
Fishing and life at the beach do not get much better than that. Late April is a great time of year to be enjoying the Crystal Coast and remembering great times from previous years.