Our cold winter is just a vague memory as the first heatwave of 2015 grips the Crystal Coast even before the official first day of summer.
It is great beach and pool weather because the water is still refreshing. While it is plenty humid, it nothing like the weather that sometimes settles over us in August.
All of the many ways of enjoying the water are a possibility this time of year. While my skiff is laid up waiting for a fuel pump, I have managed to walk the beaches, kayak the White Oak, and relax in the neighborhood swimming pool.
Our weather during the spring months has been nothing short of astonishing. It has been a phenomenal gardening season. We were almost overwhelmed with lettuce from late February through early April. We are now enjoying ripe homegrown tomatoes and fresh green beans from our garden.
Raymond’s Gut, pictured to the right, is the body of water that runs behind our home and out to the White Oak River. About three miles down the river you will find Swansboro. It is in Swansboro that the White Oak meets Bogue Sound which runs behind Bogue Banks.
Long ago the Corp of Engineers diverted much of the White Oak to run down the Intracoastal Waterway and out Cow Channel and the Western Channel towards Bear Island. Bear Island, one of the true treasures of the North Carolina coast, is also the ocean side part of Hammocks Beach State Park. Most area boaters use Bogue Inlet as their route out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Bogue Inlet passes between The Point and Bear Island. Bogue Inlet is one of the favorite fishing spots for the area’s fishermen and visitors. I have enjoyed some memorable days fishing just outside of Bogue Inlet. That includes one when we caught bluefish until our arms ached.
While I love to fish just outside Bogue Inlet, that requires a fishing partner or I get in trouble with my wife. Going out the inlet is something of a small expedition compared to just slipping my kayak into the water from the lawn behind our home and paddling ten minutes out to the oyster rocks.
It also turns out that over time, I have caught more fish out along the oyster rocks in the White Oak River than out by the big water around Bogue Inlet. Last year I caught my first red drum of the season in the White Oak on May 24. This year I am still waiting for the first one, but based on reports coming from the beach, the action over by Bogue Inlet has also been slow.
Whether I catch fish or not, I still enjoy the river and truly the best way to see it is by kayak. This year my first kayak trip of the year on the river was April 12. Each year that first day is a little different but it is always eagerly anticipated.
Because the river is so peaceful, many holidays I choose to spend some of time off in my kayak out on the river. I had a great time in the kayak out on the river during the 2015 Memorial Day weekend.
One of the best things about kayaking the White Oak is that you almost always have the river to yourself. I generally stay in lower four miles of the river. On a summer weekend I might see a boat or two in that four mile stretch that I consider home, but in eight years of kayaking the river, I have only ever met two other kayaks. There is plenty of room on a river that approaches two miles in width.
I did get use my skiff some this spring before the fuel pump gave up the ghost. One of the great pleasures of life is getting your boat up on a perfect plane and riding down a glassy smooth White Oak River. The river is smooth like that only rarely and it usually happens only early in the morning.
That blue line on the horizon is something that keeps boaters coming back for more. One of my favorite things in the summer is to get up, have some coffee and head out before breakfast in my skiff to the marshes on the south side of the Intracoastal Waterway near Swansboro. That trip to the marshes is also a great time to do a little drift fishing from the skiff.
Getting in a skiff and heading out to Bogue Inlet and one of the boat accessible beaches is also a great way to stay cool during a heat wave. While the river can get pretty warm by August, the ocean usually stays refreshingly cool most of the year.
I am looking forward to getting back in my skiff and enjoying the area’s more distant waters that are hard for me to reach without putting the kayak on top of the car.
Of course I try never to neglect the area’s beaches. I have walked the whole strand of beaches in the Town of Emerald isle more than once. There is no doubt that there are plenty of great beaches along Bogue Banks, but my real favorite is The Point which is at the westernmost end of Bogue Banks and sits on the eastern edge of Bogue Inlet.
The Point is unique because it is so wild but at the same time is so close to civilization. This recent hike at the Point looks like I walked on water, but the truth is that the mapmakers have a hard time keeping up with the Point.
In November 2007 you could see nothing but water from the vehicle ramp. Today there is three-tenths of a mile of sand to walk before you reach the edge of the water. The Point not only changes with each visit, I think the Point also changes me a little each time that I visit. A hike at the Point touches everyone.
A two mile hike at the Point around low tide is one of the best ways that I know to forget about everything that is bothering you. Just off the Point is the spot where Bogue Inlet meets the Atlantic Ocean, it is amazing spot where currents some at each other from all directions.
We can only hope that summer will be as great as spring has been. Beyond spring fishing out by the oyster rocks, many days I have gardened until I dropped. The results have been well worth the effort. From the overabundance of lettuce to the Swiss Chard that will not give up, the garden has treated us well. We had good crops of green peas, onions and sugar snap peas. I have already mentioned the recent successful harvest of green beans. We grew our favorite variety, white half-runner beans.
We have already gotten a few tasty Cherokee purple tomatoes and our Umberto tomatoes continue to be a variety that we can count on to produce early and last all season.
Our winter flowers did not do as well as we expected but the snapdragons and dianthus have stayed with us and been beautiful all spring. The guara and Russian heather in my barrier island beds have really come into their own this spring.
You will find a few pictures of the flowers and vegetables in this album. While we are having some real summer days, that is all part of living in the South. It is a price you pay if you want to be on the water most of the year and have tomatoes for six or seven months out of the year.
You will find more articles about the Crystal Coast at my Life Along The Crystal Coast Page.
We send out a newsletter about the area about once a month this time of year. The Crystal Coast’s wonderful spring is documented in our last newsletter. For a review of 2014 along the Crystal Coast click this link.
Our newsletter covers many topics. Besides weather, fishing, beach reports and local news, you will even find reviews of local restaurants as new ones pop up. If you would like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, just click on this link and register by providing your email address. Your email address is only used for the newsletter.
For more quick information about the area head for our free online guide to Emerald Isle. If you are really interested in the area, our 180 page travel guide is invaluable. It is available for as little at $3.99 for the Kindle version. We update it every summer. If you are in the area and want to have a look at a paper copy, stop by the Emerald Isle tourist bureau. For more information on our books click on this link.
Why we love it here?
While no place is perfect, the Crystal Coast presents us with many options besides beaches that make life here very appealing.
Living by the water is not for everyone, but we really enjoy everything from waves on the beach to the warmth of an evening on the beach or even the power of the ocean you feel standing in the surf.
The magic of the river or our other waters is never far away. Sometimes the big water calls and other times I get seduced by the river and the fog. There are few places where you can have such wonderful November days on the beach.
In the summer there are times when the heat will not seem to go away but there are ways to deal with the heat or humidity and even escape our paltry crowds.
We typically have plenty of summer weather, but we do have four seasons here including some cold weather every few years. That just makes the other three seasons besides winter seem even nicer.
My Crystal Coast, Salt Water on Your Feet site also has a number of articles for people considering a move to the Crystal Coast.
To make life even better here on the coast, I would recommend a visit to our wonderful church home at Cape Carteret Presbyterian Church. We love to have visitors especially during our monthly fellowship luncheons.
Our quiet spot sheltered by Bogue Banks, the Croatan National Forest, and the Cape Lookout National Seashore is a very friendly and scenic area with a great future. Right now it is the spot for us and sometimes I think I am living in a time and place that cannot survive the pressures of the modern world forever. I am just happy to be here now and able to share it with my children and grandchild.
This is a link to a simple map of the area. There are more detailed ones in our Emerald Isle Travel Guide.