There are special places on the Southern Outer Banks, and there are special times. July seems to be one of the best times for mornings when the water hardly has ripples and can barely be distinguished from the sky.
I call those mornings “blue water mornings” mostly because of someone who told me that he didn’t like the color of the White Oak River. I told him that he had just never been on the river enough to appreciate its color palette.
The White Oak is actually a blackwater river which means that the very clear water in the river is stained brown by the pigments from organic materials in the marshes which provide the water for the river.
The neat thing about the White Oak is that the river takes on a lot of different colors. It is actually a photographer’s dream. You can catch some amazing reflections on the surface of the river. There are days when the river is blue in the morning and brown at night with a golden sunset in the pines. Sometimes when I get out on the river in the evenings, the sunset is just stunning.
The combination of wind, sunlight, clouds and the water in the river can create some amazing photo opportunities. Of course a beautiful, uncrowded river with hardly a ripple on it begs to be enjoyed with something other than a camera.
I enjoy both our outboard motor powered skiff and my kayak. Many mornings it is a toss-up as to what I will drop into the water. The picture in the post was taken Sunday, July 15, as I was returning from what I call a ride to the marshes.
My morning had started with a walk of one and one third miles which included a trip along the boardwalk at Bluewater Cove where we live. The combination of the white puffy clouds and deep blue sky reflected on the almost perfectly calm surface of the White Oak was more than I could take.
I hurriedly finished my walk and got our skiff ready for a ride down the river to Swansboro. My skiff is in a dream spot only twenty five feet from my garage so getting prepared for a trip on the water is not very complicated. I did have to wash some sand out of the boat from my adventure on the previous Friday when I got the boat stuck on a sandbar at low tide out behind Bear Island, but that only added five minutes to the preparation.
It only takes about three minutes to idle out Raymond’s Gut to the White Oak River from my dock. Once I am on the river, Swansboro and the Intracostal Waterway are only seven or eight minutes away. It just takes some zigging and zagging around oyster rocks.
It was a beautiful ride down the White Oak that morning. There were no other boats on the river, and I didn’t have to slow down until just before the Highway 24 bridges in Swansboro where a couple of small boats were fishing. Since I had seen them the Friday before, I was prepared for the official looking no wake buoys by the Icehouse in the Swansboro harbor.
I’m a little in the dark about what is happening with the big barge and the crane on it, but I hope it has something to do with increasing water access in Swansboro. I love the boardwalk in Beaufort, NC and would love to see Swansboro get one.
After going through the harbor, I crossed the ICW and followed what is called west channel which takes you back behind Huggins Island to the ICW just west of the channel out to Bogue Inlet. Since I was scheduled as one of the elders helping with the communion at our church, Cape Carteret Presbyterian, I decided that I had better skip the trip out to the Point so I turned and headed west back down the ICW to Swansboro.
It was early enough that there was very little activity at the Wildlife Resources Boat Ramp in Cedar Point. After slowing down for the no wake markers at the ramp, I got the boat back up on plane until I got back to the harbor where I slowed again until I got to the north side of the Highway 24 bridges.
I met a boat and seadoo just before I got to Jones Island and one other boat as I was crossing the river, but that was the extent of the morning traffic jam on the river.
The water and sky were both a stunning color of blue, and it was pretty hard to make the turn at the Red Sixteen buoy and head back to the home dock. Still I managed to walk into the house about ten minutes to nine. I had a quick shower, cooked some breakfast, and was doing a few computer chores when it dawned on me that I supposed to be at church a few minutes early. We hurried around and got to church only a few minutes late for our meeting. We had a wonderful communion service which was a good way to end a beautiful morning on the water.
I’ve been boating on some less than desirable mornings. You end up doing that when you don’t have the luxury of living by the water. When you have to drive six or seven hours to get to the water, you end up taking what you get when you arrive.
Still one of the special things about a blue water morning is that they are relatively rare. While we get several a year and sometimes a number of them in a row, they are always a surprise, and a special opportunity that I hate to miss when I’m too busy to get out on the water.
There are so many days when the river looks quiet until you get out on it, or days when the wind picks up by the time I am coming back through Swansboro harbor. Those aren’t bad days to be on the water, but somehow they don’t create the special memories that a blue water morning does.
To be in the right place at the right time to enjoy a blue water morning is a blessing that I’m truly thankful for each time it happens. There will come a time when I won’t be able to zoom down the glassy surface of the river, but I’ll have plenty of pictures, movies, and memories to make me smile.