The Zig and Zag of the White Oak River

Living on one of North Carolina’s coastal rivers is a true pleasure, and I have written about it before including these posts, How to Enjoy a Coastal River and A Great Big Coastal River.

I am reminded of how wonderful the river is each morning when I look out towards it from our dock on Raymond’s Gut. Part of my morning routine is to check the tide level on one of the dock pilings and survey the water surface. Our home is very close to the water as you can see from this picture taken from my kayak.

After checking the tide, I try to gauge the winds out on the river. If it is really windy out on the river, it is pretty easy to catch from the visible whitecaps. However, it can be very calm in our inlet and windy on the river. Or it can look calm on the river and still be pretty windy on the river once you are out there. About the only way to really know how windy it is on the river is to get in the boat or kayak and head out to the river.

There are mornings when the air, wind, and tides just seem to tell me to get in our skiff and ride down the river. It is one of the urges in life that I don’t try to resist at all.

Many mornings I can actually take the boat down to Swansboro and be back before my wife even gets out of bed. Usually early in the morning, even in the summer, the river mostly belongs to me. A typical trip might look like the one shown this Google map except for the stop at Casper’s for fuel.

Once in a while, there is an early morning fisherman or someone checking their crab traps, but mostly an early ride down the river is a solitary experience that lets you really enjoy the pleasure of being on the water. An early morning on the river on a warm July day can be a memorable experience.

There are couple of reasons that the traffic on the White Oak is so light. One, there is plenty of other water for boating down here, and two, there are oyster beds in the lower river which require you to pay attention while boating. The channel is well marked, but if you aren’t used to following buoys it can be challenging especially if the light is bad. Many boaters would rather not pay attention since they are accustomed to boating in lakes where there are few if any marked channels

If you are lucky enough to have a GPS and can follow someone up the river who knows where they are going, it is pretty easy to establish your own road map. Most people going up the river know where they are going, but once in a while someone who seems to know where they are headed will venture off into shallow water and start looking lost. You can get into trouble on the White Oak and it happens once in a while.

This is a larger version of the photo at the top of the post. It was taken at low tide and shows some of the oyster rocks on the downriver side of the deep hole on the White Oak just before Bluewater Cove. At high tide these rocks are sometimes covered by as little as six inches of water. Hitting those oyster rocks at high speed would not be fun.

However, with the right conditions, a little forethought and attention to the marked channel, I can think of nothing that I enjoy as much as my early morning boat ride. It sure beats mowing the lawn or going to a sales meeting.

I have a number of maps of the river posted, but this Google maps one shows the most challenging part of the channel between Bluewater Cove at Red Sixteen and Jones Island just before the Swansboro Harbor.

Here is an album with a number of White Oak photos containing GPS data which can give you a good idea of a ride down the river. Since Google likes to force you into Google+ photos, watch for this little banner and click it if you are interested in seeing the map with the photos.

The river is a great place to enjoy the water, but it also leads to lots of other places that take being out on the water to another level including being out by the big water. Once you get to know the waters along our coast, they are not such a big puzzle.

Living by the water is lots fun and the main reason I live where I do. Even in a spring that has started off cold, the water can warm enough to have me dreaming about saltwater or out walking the irresistible beaches as soon a little warmth finds us.

There are lots of pictures of the White Oak River, Raymond's Gut and the Emerald Isle area in my new Kindle Book, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, A Crystal Coast Year, and you will find complete beach information in our recent 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide.

If you would like to read more about the Crystal Coast and why we are living here, you will find some helpful posts at this link.

More information about life here can be found at my Crystal Coast Life blog.

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