Sunday, November 18, 2012

Before the Blow

We're lucky to be living tucked in by the water not far from the beaches of Emerald Isle, North Carolina.  Being protected just off a big river without pine trees close around your home is a pretty good recipe for staying out of trouble in the winds and storms of the Crystal Coast.  It is also very convenient when you want to enjoy the area's waters.

Our home is on Raymond's Gut a little more than half a mile from the center of the White Oak River.  The White Oak depending on how you measure its width is close to two miles across where we live.

Swansboro and the Intracoastal Waterway even with some zigging and zagging around oyster rocks are only about three miles down river.  The beach over by the Point at Emerald Isle is about six miles away as a pelican flies. 

A trip down the river in our skiff takes only six or seven minutes once you have idled out our inlet.  The total ride is about ten minutes and another ten minutes will put you well out Bogue Inlet and almost in the Atlantic Ocean.  We live in a place where the water provides easy access to many neat areas including Hammocks Beach, the Point, and Bogue Inlet.  These pictures of a ride down to the marshes south of Swansboro provide an idea of the beauty of the area.

It does not take many years of living near the beach to learn to appreciate a few miles of separation from the Atlantic Ocean.  Usually the wind blows a lot harder over by the beaches.  The cold seems to penetrate a little more by the ocean, and in the spring it seems to take a little longer to warm up the ocean compared to the river.  The beach is a little cooler in the summer, but I have heat pumps for that if I can't find some water to cool my body.

I truly enjoy going to the beach, but I don't mind the short commute from our home.  It comes with a lot of advantages.  One of those is protection from most storms.  As we are sliding toward the holiday season, the weather is definitely changing.  We are seeing more frequent storms and being a little farther away from the incubator of the storms is definitely an advantage.

In the last three weeks, we have witnessed Hurricane Sandy and two Northeasters.  When the storms are coming that regularly, any protection from the power of the Atlantic Ocean is welcome.  Of course as we have all learned, no place is immune from the power of Mother Nature.

Timing and location are often very important.  We have been lucky to to be witnesses to the formation of the Northeasters instead of seeing them at their peak power.  We also ended up on the less powerful end of Sandy.  My wife and I were traveling in Canada when Sandy started up the coast.

As soon as we realized the magnitude of Sandy, we turned and headed down the coast.  It seemed like we were seeing the stormy weather of Sandy from over a thousand miles away.  Yet being those six miles inland often provides a more protected life on the coast even with a huge storm like Sandy.

Barrier islands and marshes are the keys to protecting homes from storms.  We're really lucky to have Emerald Isle and its well-treed hills standing tall between our location and the power of the Atlantic Ocean.

As the wind and rain was slamming against our home on this Sunday before Thanksgiving 2012, it was easy to imagine just how much stronger the winds might be over on the shore.  I would love to open my door and go down to the beach to fish.  However, that pleasure comes with a bit more challenging weather than we have inland.

We often can tell when the weather is going to be bad.  The pelicans and herons will often abandon their more coastal haunts and come ride the storms out in our inlet.  They seem to enjoy the protection of our trees and marshes that keep much of the wind away from their perches.

I've written before about one spot where the Herons go to hide.  I'm very fortunate to be able to see that place from our upper deck and our dock.  One of the especially protected corners of the aviary requires a walk over to the community boardwalk, but I have seen several herons in there at one time.  When there is more than one heron in there, you know the weather is going to be bad because herons are not noted for being social.

Sunday morning before our latest Nor'easter, we had a pelican swimming behind the house and two great blue herons jostling with a younger great blue heron for a prized perch in the rookery.   I knew with all those big birds wandering around our cove that we would likely get a dose of nasty weather.

The rain and winds came early Sunday afternoon, but we just turned on the gas fire place logs and had a peaceful nap while the weather raged outside.  The knowledge that we were just far enough away to miss the worst of the storm made our nap just that much more peaceful.