All Stirred Up & Steamy
Persistent Wind & Very Warm Temperatures
The Crystal Coast has enjoyed an early summer and the very warm temperatures have been here since June with almost no break. Recent temperatures at the beach have been in the upper eighties with some low nineties. Here on the mainland we have seen temperatures in the low to mid-nineties. Kinston, North Carolina, about an hour inland from us saw a high temperature of 99F on July 9.
With the warm weather we have had lots of sunshine and a persistent warm breeze from the southwest. Warm winds along the coast are nothing unusual but these have lasted a long time. The winds have stirred our normally crystal clear surf so much that for the last few days it has lost its characteristic emerald summer color.
We were lucky earlier in the summer around the middle of June when I took these pictures over at the Point on Emerald Isle. The water was fantastic then and even very nice early last week. This weekend a front is supposed to drop through the area and the winds shouild change and come from the north which will calm the surf and give it a chance to clear up.
Unless you have been hiding someplace, you have probably heard about the shark attacks along the North Carolina coast. Fortunately none of the attacks have been in Emerald Isle but that does not mean that the area is shark free. We often catch small sharks even when we are fishing up the river miles from the ocean.
This video taken from the Bogue Inlet Pier shows sharks swimming around the pier. Piers where they catch and clean fish are favorite haunts for sharks. Emerald Isle has banned shark fishing and chumming for sharks. Pine Knoll Shores is considering establishing fishing free zones for swimmers.
Usually sometime during the year someone at the pier will post a picture of big fish that was partially eaten by shark before the fish could be landed. My recommendation is do not swim near a pier and be mindful that the ocean is not a swimming pool.
It has been great swimming pool weather early in the mornings and late in the evenings. Our almost seven year old granddaughter spent nearly two weeks with us and the nearby pool was even more popular with her than the beach. There is a picture of our neighborhood pool in these early summer pictures.
One of my granddaughter's trips to the beach was very memorable because she spent the afternoon swimming in a long backwash of water that formed behind a sandbar at the beach. My daughter said it was a perfect, safe place for young children to swim and make friends.
My kayaking and boating have been slowed not only by the winds but also by having cataract surgery which required me to stay out of the water for a while. On top of that my boat needed some repairs and only got operational again a couple of days before I had my surgery. Then the mounting bracket for my depth finder transducer broke. "BOAT" means "bring out another thousand."
However, I am back in business and assuming the winds cooperate I will be out on the White Oak River fishing my favorite oyster rocks on Saturday morning, July 11. While the water is very warm, if the water is calm, I might have a chance to find a flounder or drum lurking in the shallows. It is not like my kayak has to be moved very far to get into the water.
We were dry when I wrote the last newsletter but we managed to get almost eight inches of rain during June. That moisture helped immensely with the heat. Some of our spring flowers have survived and our grass still looks like a green carpet which sometimes is not the case in mid-July.
Our gardening this year has been very successful. We got our first ripe tomato on June 4 which was ten days later than last year but still early even for this part of the country. Our garden usually does well since growing things on the Crystal Coast is not too hard if you know how to work with the weather instead of fight it.
Our Cherokee purple tomatoes and white half-runner beans have been especially good this year. We are now starting to prepare for our fall garden. With all the heat we have pulled up a few of the early tomato plants but fortunately our second crop tomatoes that have some shade to protect them are just starting to get ripe. Our seedlings for our fall tomato crop are about an inch tall and happily growing the garage. We will plant our second crop beans in late August. Last year we have fresh beans in mid-November.
We are lucky on the Crystal Coast to have an abundance of good produce stands and even local produce in the grocery stores. All the area's summer vegetables and melons are in at this time of year. We have enjoyed both a Bogue Sound watermelon and cantaloupe. Last weekend I got some local corn from Piggly-Wiggly that was better than any I have had since I stopped growing my own corn on the farm back in the eighties.
Our family had a quiet Fourth of July at our house and stayed close to home to avoid the crowds. I did venture out on July 5, and made a trip to Clyde Phillips Seafood between the bridges in Swansboro. I was surprised to find an almost empty blanket of ice in the cooler. Jimmy, the owner, told me he had never seen a day as busy as July 4. They sold completely our of fresh flounder and the rest of the fresh fish was gone by Sunday at noon. I felt lucky to go home with some clams and shrimp.
Based on trips over to Emerald Isle on the last couple of days, I think the crowds have already thinned a little. There were less than ten vehicles in the newly paved Eastern Regional Access when I stopped to take a couple of pictures. My trip back from there which is not far from Third Street where I took the pictures of the sea oats only took 24 minutes which is pretty close to what it takes in the wintertime.
When I drove by Jordan's Seafood Restaurant at a little after 5PM there was no line on the porch, there were parking spaces at Dairy Queen, and the Food Lion parking lot looked fairly empty. This Friday evening, July 10, we swung by Lowe's Grocery in Cape Carteret and it was practically a ghost town. So if you are thinking about coming to the beach and want to make sure you do not miss the warm weather, now might be a great time.
The crowds always thin after the middle of August, but maybe everyone came early this year. It is hard to tell with just anecdotal information. If you come down, you might see some demonstrations over in Swansboro where a group of citizens has decided to continue fighting the Walmart that is coming to the area but otherwise things are moving slowly as they usually do this time of year when the mornings and evenings are the best time of day.
We have made a decision to delay the update of our five-star-rated Emerald Isle Travel Guide until fall. It was very difficult trying to get it updated during the busy season. It seems to make more sense to do it in the fall and then the most up to date version is available in the winter for people to do their vacation planning. If you subscribe to this newsletter, you are getting the updates anyway.
If you would like to see some more pictures of the area, try the very special ones that I have posted as introduction to my book, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, A Crystal Coast Year. If you are headed this way. do not forget to start out with our free on-line guide to Emerald Isle. I also have a good introduction to Beaufort which I just visited this past June. A few shops have changed but it is still the same Beaufort and the Maritime Museum is as entertaining as ever.
If you would like to see our previous newsletter, you will find it at this link. In the next few weeks, I expect to be on the water a lot so you can count on some boating and fishing stories in the next newsletter. I will also be back out hiking my favorite beach, The Point.
Have a great summer and remember, salt water cures almost everything and a cold beer on a hot day will handle most of the rest.