The holidays are almost upon us and winter has decided to visit us. For those unfamiliar with the Crystal Coast, I define a winter day as one when the temperature does not reach 50F.
We endured some colder weather earlier in the fall. It did pass and we have enjoyed some magnificent weather in December. The first few days of December were in the upper sixties. The second week only had a couple of days stuck in the fifties. Even better the week leading up to Christmas had a day close to seventy degrees.
The river water returned to nearly 60F which is not bad for December. With warm water and mild temperatures December has been a great time to enjoy the area’s waters. Earlier this week before Christmas I spent an afternoon fishing the White Oak River in my kayak. It was warm enough that a long-sleeve t-shirt was all that I needed to be comfortable.
While I did not catch any fish, I had a great time being out on the river in such perfect weather. I also got to watch several bottle-nosed dolphins feeding in the river. I cannot remember the fall kayaking weather being any better since we moved down here over six years ago. I know that I have been out in my kayak more this year than any previous year.
Unfortunately even here on the Crystal Coast we have to deal with the changing of the seasons. The evening of Thursday, December 20, a front came through, and it feels like our really nice weather will disappear for a few days. We are lucky because most years we get some nice days sprinkled all through the winter. It is not unheard of for us to have several days in the seventies during January, but we can also get some snow.
Usually whatever snow we get is gone by noon, but strong winds and cool temperatures can make boating more challenging. While I am dedicated to getting my skiff out on the river at least one day a week even if it requires a little ice-breaking, I tend to stay in our inlet with my kayak once winter is officially here.
A trip in the kayak like I took earlier this week puts me about 1.5 miles from home. When the water starts to cool and the winds start to below, I can find plenty to keep me occupied closer to home in our own inlet. I can sneak out in the river a little ways and still be protected by a point of land sticks out into the White Oak but mostly I enjoy the warmth of our sheltered inlet.
If the weather turns bad, I can paddle home in under ten minutes. Our inlet is a great place for some easy winter kayaking. There is plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained. Usually my neighbors which include a great blue heron, a kingfisher or two, a great egret, and sometimes even a pelican are around to keep me company. When the weather is nasty, we get even more of the big birds.
Even if the birds desert me, I can usually count on a beautiful winter sunset. Somehow being confined to the Inlet for a few weeks isn’t such a big deal when your surroundings are so scenic. I have plenty of wonderful memories of warmer weather to keep me going for a month or two. By the end of February, the North Carolina sunshine is starting to warm things up, and I know it won’t be long before the tomatoes are in the ground once again.
So far this year’s weather has been easy to enjoy. I hope it stays that way.