Changing Sands

An overwash at the Point, September 16, 2017

An overwash at the Point, September 16, 2017

You cannot live near the beach without being aware of the impact of wind and water. Our sandy shores are constantly being reshaped. It is the rare occasion when you go to a beach and it has not changed since your last visit.

Strong waves backed by high tides and strong winds can easily carve a bench into a beach like the one near the Point pictured here. I took that picture on a high tide walk at the Point on September 16. For the first fifty yards there was hardly enough beach for walking. The high water was coming from Jose and mostly covered an area that normally has plenty of beach.

Ten days later I walked at Third Street Beach at the eastern end of the Town of Emerald Isle. All summer there had been a bench there with a steeply sloped beach. Maria did not come close to us but her waves and winds took the bench away at Third Street and gave the beach a gentle slope as you can see in this picture.

Changes from moving sands can be even more dramatic at the Point, an area on the westernmost tip of Bogue Banks Island where Emerald Isle is located. I regularly walk the Point but I never pay any attention to the maps that Google and Bing create for the area. Even with the miracles of the Internet, the Point can change faster than you can post a map.

The picture of the top of the post is an area being washed over by the same high tides that carved the bench. It is hard to believe the changes at the Point in the last ten years. This picture which shows the Point under water was snapped on November 4, 2007. Since that time the sands of the Point have made a remarkable recovery. Where there was once water I have measured sand stretching .313 miles in 2013 to .261 in September of 2017. Today looking out from the same vehicle ramp, there are acres and acres of sand that seem to stretch almost to the horizon.

If you pull up this map of hikes on the Point, you can begin to imagine how it has changed especially if you remember that water covered most of the Point in 2007. I did not fully complete my recent hike and make it to the end of Bird Island near Coast Guard Channel but from the angle of the shore when I turned back towards the ramp, I am expecting drastic changes.

The good news is that the Point seems to be very resilient. Many beaches are not that lucky. We are fortunate to have beaches here on the Crystal Coast that are not as endangered as those out on Hatteras Island.

If you need some guidance on having a great time here in Emerald Isle, please remember to check out our book, A Week at the Beach – The Emerald Isle Travel Guide.  The 2017-18 print editions were published on August 15 and  are Prime eligible at Amazon. the Kindle version went live on September 20. If you are in Emerald Isle you can pick up a black and white copy at Emerald Isle Books and Toys in Emerald Plantation.  The Emerald Isle Town Office carries the color version.

The sign-up form the Crystal Coast Life Email Newsletter is below. I have to apologize that I have been unable to get out a newsletter this summer but if all goes well I will have a news-filled one out the first week of October.  I am going to try to publish once every three months during the winner. Next year we will not be remodeling our home so maybe time will not be so precious in the summer months.  The most recent edition of the newsletter can be read at this link.

The Week Of The Fourth At The Beach

Blue sky and waters in Raymond's Gut

Blue sky and waters in Raymond’s Gut

Spending the Fourth of July week at the beach is a grand American tradition.  In spite of our modern world where very few people have the luxury of two weeks off in a row, many people still manage to stick their toes in the ocean for a week around the Fourth.

Here along the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina we welcome the crowds that visit us during the whole summer but the first part of July seems to be a special time for everyone.  Summer tourists provide enough revenue so our local businesses can survive through the quiet winter months.

However, it is no accident that a local would write a Fourth of July beach article and feature a picture with no beach in sight. The weekend around the Fourth of July is the least likely time for those of us who live here to go over to the beach.  We have plenty of other water to enjoy like Raymond’s Gut where I took the above picture on Saturday morning, July 6, 2013.  Even I am not interested in braving the bridge traffic on Saturday afternoon the first weekend in July.

While the residents who actually live on Bogue Banks Island where our beaches are located have a few more challenges than those of us who live over the mainland, the truth is that we have plenty of room in Carteret County for our area’s visitors.  While the grocery stores and restaurants are crowded enough that most of us who live here avoid them on the weekends during the summer season, it is possible to get in and out of a grocery store without much trouble. We survived a trip to Piggly-Wiggly without any trauma on Saturday, July 6.  During the summer months, you have to pick and choose your restaurants and be smart about planning when to go out to eat, but it is no great burden.

Yes, the parking lots and roads are somewhat more dangerous, but it is pretty easy to stick close to home or to avoid the crowds by knowing the best times to go out.  The really neat thing about the Crystal Coast is that even during the peak of the tourist season,  we are not really that crowded and as my Northern Virginia based son likes to say, our parking places are big enough for a pickup truck hauling a boat which is very different from the Prius sized ones in his area.

I can rattle off plenty of examples of the uncrowded nature of our shores and waters.  I went hiking on the Point, a popular beach are in the town of Emerald Isle on July 2.  I ended up writing a post, Escaping The Crowds.  In it I talk about how easy it is even during the week of July 4, to find a stretch of empty beach here on the Crystal Coast.

There are other even more isolated beaches here like one of my favorites, Hammocks Beach which is accessible only by boat.  I could have mentioned Cape Lookout National Seashore and its 57 miles of isolated beach, but getting some space on the beach is not a challenge here.

You will find some crowds if you try to launch your boat at the Wildlife Resources Ramp in Cedar Point during July weekends, but you will likely find plenty of space at the Emerald Isle Wildlife Resources Ramp.  There will be lots of boats it you are on the water from 11AM to 4PM, but if you leave at 7:30 AM and get back before 10AM, the crowds are not nearly as bad.  Of course you could just enjoy the waters of the White Oak River which is much less crowded than the Intracoastal Waterway.

If you are going kayaking, the White Oak River is an especially good choice and it is never crowded. There are lots of areas of the White Oak that are almost off limits to boats because of oyster rocks which are easy to avoid in a kayak.  I have kayaked each of the last four days.  My trips have ranged from two hours to close to four hours.  I have seen a total of two other kayaks and perhaps twelve to fifteen boats in the four days.  That is not exactly beltway style traffic.

On July 3, I took our skiff into the marshes on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway by Swansboro.  I was back home by just after 9AM.  I saw two boats on the Intracoastal Waterway and one boat fishing under the Highway 24 Bridge in Swansboro.  Again that is no where close to heavy traffic.

There are plenty of people here in spite of those examples. We just have lots of room for everyone to spread out.  In fact we are so uncrowded during the off-season that most of us look forward to the spring crowds to bring a little life to the beach areas.

We are not the beach for everyone, but if you are trying to avoid crowds, you can easily do so here on the Crystal Coast near Emerald Isle.  You might have to drive a few minutes to get to a Target, but if you are coming to the beach to shop,  you probably need to pick a different beach than one of ours anyway.

If you want uncrowded beaches, fishing , kayaking or some boating before you finish the day with a walk on the beach under an unmatched canopy of stars in the soft, warm beach air, then you will probably enjoy your time here.  We also have local caught seafood and plenty of local produce.  Cooking at home is a great way to avoid restaurant crowds.

Beyond the lack of crowds this is a great place to vacation or to live. You certainly will not find a more family friendly area.

However,  there are better places for shopping, listening to iPods, and going to night clubs.  Our beaches are the ones which reconnect your soul to the natural world.  This is a part of the world where you can hear yourself think.  We are all about unwinding people who spend most of the year being wound up way too tight.

Come visit and you will fall in love with the area.  If you want to read more about the area try our book, A Week At The Beach – The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide.  You will easily pick up enough beach lover secrets to justify its $4.99 price at the Kindle store.  You can read it on your iPad or other electronic device including your smart phone with free Kindle reader software.

If you need some additional visual stimulation to convince you that the Crystal Coast is the right spot, here are a few resources.  This is a link to an album of pictures of my July 2, 2013 hike at the Point.  This is a slide show of a boat trip down the White Oak and out to the Point area. If video is more your style, try this short YouTube video of my July 3 trip into the marshes.  Finally if kayaking is more your thing, this is a web album of my kayaking trip down the White Oak River on July 6.

One way or the other, I think you will be convinced that the 2013 Fourth of July week was a great one here on the North Carolina coast. Even the weather cooperated.