While there are people who would never consider going to the beach for Thanksgiving, our North Carolina beaches get many visitors.
Somehow things seem to slow down here at the coast as the holidays approach. We locals slide into our late fall routines and our visitors seem to enjoy the unhurried way holidays play out here on the coast. It is all part of the quiet small town life that is the essence of Carteret County.
You do not have to be a visitor to enjoy the beach around Thanksgiving. Even in a year like 2014, when the first cold weather arrived a little earlier than normal, the beach is not off limits. You can usually find people on the beach in November and December. Sometimes even January provides us some great beach days.
I have been biding my time for a beach visit. With some unexpected cold weather, the thought of a hike at the normally breezy Point at Emerald Isle just did not seem like a good idea.
Our seasonal reversal when the beach area becomes consistently warmer than the mainland has yet to arrive. That being the case, figuring out what to wear on a late November beach hike was the biggest challenge besides actually finding a nice day for a hike in this strangely cool November.
Since our unusually cold weather around the third week of November, our weather has been working its way back towards more normal temperatures. Sunday, November 30, appears to mark the beginning of some mostly normal weather with high temperatures in the mid sixties and low temperatures in the mid forties.
I took advantage of November 30, the warm Sunday afternoon that ended the month, and headed over to Emerald Isle for my beach hike. It was sixty-one Fahrenheit when I left our home near the White Oak River. I watched my car thermometer and it bounced to 62F going over Bogue Sound but fell back to 61F by the time I parked at the Station St. parking lot. The whole trip only took about ten minutes since there is little if any traffic this time of year.
My normal hike at the beach is about two miles. It often depends on what looks interesting and what else I have planned. I stuck to my two mile hike this Sunday because I hoped to get back home for a quick boat ride on the White Oak River.
As always I found changes at the Point since my last hike. I think the most dramatic difference is the disappearance of this water feature that cut across the end of the Point earlier this fall. The area now is just sand.
A close second is the elevation of the sand by the beach vehicle access ramp at the end of Inlet Drive by Bogue Court. The height of the sand just keeps growing in this area. Considering that seven years ago there was no sand there, it is even more impressive. If you are down on the lower portions of the beach, new dunes growing make it impossible to see what remains of Coast Guard Channel.
The beach was very peaceful with only a handful of trucks and just a few visitors walking. There were two guys kite surfing over by the Point, but I did not see a single boat in the Inlet. There was a friendly brown pelican, some sanderlings, and a couple of rudy turnstones.
I solved my clothing dilemma by wearing a swim suit, long-sleeved t-shirt and a light nylon windbreaker. I might have gotten by with just the t-shirt but as soon as the sun starts dropping things cool off quickly at the Point. There were places the windbreaker felt good. I did see some tracks of someone who had walked the beach barefooted earlier in the day.
My walk lasted less than an hour so I was off the beach before four PM and headed home to take advantage of the last light. As the sun started dipping below the pine trees, I headed out our inlet, Raymond’s Gut. I planned a short run to test our boat since we just put it back at our dock after some repairs.
Everything worked fine, but the water temperature in the river was down under 53F which I think is considerably colder than last year at the same time. Water that cold usually means there are no fish lurking on my favorite oyster rocks. There were no clouds in the sky so waiting around for a sunset did not make a lot of sense. I headed home knowing my wife had some tasty Senate Navy Bean Soup with Kale waiting for me.
It was a great day which started with a 1.5 mile hike around the marsh early in the morning. Next came the first Sunday in Advent at our church. We enjoyed some tasty leftover turkey for lunch and I followed that with my nearly 2 mile hike at the beach which did not include walking on water in spite of the Google map. The day finished with a short but fun trip out on the river with the return ride being just in time for a nice sunset filtered by some pine trees. The first week of December looks as good or better than Sunday, November 30. Certainly December 1, has turned out very nice.
If the water warms a little and it should, I can think about taking the kayak out one last time before winter. It would not be that unusual.
If you are ready to visit, you will find some great information in our free online guide to Emerald Isle. It is a great time of year to visit and enjoy the peace that comes to our Crystal Coast waters. If you think you might be interested in living here, try visiting The Crystal Coast, Saltwater on my feet. There are 129 posts there.
We also send out an almost monthly newsletter. Our most recent newsletter was sent out on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It is available here on the web. You can read our October newsletter online at this link.
We will be sending out our next newsletter the week just before Christmas.
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