Out By The Big Water

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Mostly Pelicans on the eastern tip of Bear Island

Mostly Pelicans on the eastern tip of Bear Island

We live in a world with more places that have been tamed than I care to imagine.  I have always been a fan of being on the edge of civilization.  It is harder to find that feeling these days, but you can get a good taste of it out in Bogue Inlet by the ocean.

My wife is not a fan of the area where I snapped the picture of all the pelicans on Bear Island.  Perhaps she had enough living on the edge during our years in Canada. Our life in Canada’s Maritime’s was not a particularly easy one.  There were times that you were pretty close to being on your own.  Town was twenty miles away, a blizzard was blowing, the temperature was in the minus twenties and the power likely was out.

We survived with a wood stove, spring water that came through the house by gravity feed, candles and Coleman lanterns.  We also had a small generator but rarely used it. Our Chevy pickup truck never failed to start in any weather even without plugging in the block heater.

There were a lot of ways find yourself in trouble where we had our farm.  Freezing to death when the temperature drops to minus forty was just one worry.   When the wind is blowing and it is that cold, you tend to be very careful.  Materials behave very differently and exposed flesh freezes very quickly.  However,  you really feel alive if you survive a morning working outside in weather that cold.  Coming inside from deadly cold like that brings a sense of relief and a feeling of safety that most of us take for granted in our suburban existence.

Our modern world along the coast of North Carolina is not immune from danger.  People die here each year in the water.  Some die in accidents in the surf, but there are people who die because they put themselves and their boat in situations more dangerous than they have guessed.

When you take an open twenty foot boat out to Bogue Inlet, the area between the Point at Emerald Island and Bear Island,  you are in an area that can claim your boat faster than you might expect.  We have been fishing on the ocean side of Bear Island when the waves got rough enough to make us quickly pull up the anchor and head for safer waters.

There are times when it can be pretty calm out in the ocean and we do venture out beyond the beaches.  I do not go out by myself, and when I do venture out there I prefer to have a competent boater as my co-pilot.  Maybe I took enough risks on those long walks to our barn during blizzards in our years in Canada.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the water near the shore was not particularly calm on our latest trip out to the area near the big water.  Anchoring in twenty feet of water in choppy seas with a strong current is also not the easiest thing to do and certainly not something that I would even attempt without another person at the helm.

The beauty of the area and the occasional fish that we catch in the rough waters draws us back year after year.  It is not a place where I take my wife who is not fond of getting wet. While I am a good swimmer, I always wear my life suspenders when I am in my boat but even with them on, falling in the water near Bogue Inlet is not something I would want to do.  Being in water that is under 60F with a strong current would not be fun any time of year much less late November.  Thoughts of the strong currents and cooling waters made me very careful when I heaved the anchor into the water recently.

You can find lots of places in our area where the water is shallow and calm and almost walking distance from shore.  Jumping into water like that in summer can even be fun, but things are very different as the waters cool from its summertime temperatures which are often well over 80F.

We try to be very safe when we are out boating. Still I am always happy to see the red Towboat.us rescue boat at Casper’s Marina as we head through Swansboro Harbor.  It is also nice to know that I have the cell phone number of Andrew, the local Towboats.us captain, programmed into my cell phone.  He could certainly be out to the Inlet in just minutes.

Still on a day like our recent trip when there are almost no other boats around out by Bogue Inlet, you know that you have to keep your wits about you and try not to do anything stupid. Making a mistake in a boat in rough waters is amazingly easy.

On our most recent November trip, we fished for a while and even caught a few small bluefish.  Then we carefully pulled the anchor and went looking for bigger fish back towards Swansboro.   Since we had limited time, we decided to head back up the river and try the oyster rocks in the White Oak River which have treated me very well recently when it comes to fish.

While you might get a boat stuck on the oyster rocks in the White Oak, contrary to my wife’s opinion, you will not sink or wash out to sea if you get in trouble on the White Oak.  It is a far different kind of place than the waters out by Bogue Inlet where boats have gotten into serious trouble even this year.  The White Oak is also a spot that I know very well even in the fog.

As much as I enjoy going out to fish around Bogue Inlet during our long boating season here on the Southern Outer Banks, there is something of a feeling of relief when we idle back into Raymond’s Gut and head to our dock.  While the elements we challenge out at Bogue Inlet are nowhere near as harsh as the ones we found in the rolling hardwood hills of New Brunswick in the depths of a blizzard, they can be just as unforgiving.

We had a chance to relax and enjoy the quiet waters of  the White Oak for a few minutes before heading home from the oyster rocks.  That trip was a short one compared to a trip out to Bogue Inlet.

After we docked and went inside to grab a turkey sandwich,  I was pleased that I could still feel a little excitement from having been out by the big water earlier in the day.  It is a nice feeling. Challenging some tough water and getting home safely does make you feel alive.

I hope I can continue visiting Bogue Inlet, those waters between the Point and Hammocks Beach, for a long time.  I am not ready for a rocking chair yet, and I am happy to be living on the Crystal Coast where there is still some excitement to be had from living close to the elements.

 

 

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