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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling In Love With the Crystal Coast

We live in such a wonderful area, I am never surprised when someone falls for the area. All it takes is finding a special spot or two that really sticks with you. I guess that everyone has their favorite spot here on the Crystal Coast. A lot of folks love Shackleford Banks. I know that I have one or two places near the top of my list. I actually cannot remember when I mentally picked my top places, but this week I got to watch my youngest daughter, Katie, who is in her twenties fall in love with a couple of spots here on the Crystal Coast. While she and her significant other, Alex, have visited here a few times, they always seemed rushed. This visit was different. First it was spontaneous. Second it was a vacation that they really needed. Last August Katie gave birth to our first granddaughter. Having a baby changed their lives just as it does everyone's. The last almost eleven months have been an intense introduction to being parents. So when they got to the beach this time and found an adoring grandmother willing to take care of their baby, they really appreciated their free time. They also fell in love with the area.
This visit almost seemed like the first time that they had really seen the Crystal Coast. Katie worked to get as much into a day as possible. It was like every minute was precious. Number one on her list was to find a beach where she could collect some shells. Number two was to get her tan back in shape.

The first choice for finding a beach was to head to Bogue Inlet in our skiff. Unfortunately I could not make the first trip, but they had little trouble finding a place to anchor and hunt for shells. Katie was really pleased with the shells she found while Alex fished from the boat.

The next day I joined the party. Katie was determined to go back to the same spot. We headed out Bogue Inlet and anchored in sight of the Point in something less that two feet of water with the stern of the boat in casting distance of some deeper water. I was pretty happy minding the boat since the tide was going out. Alex fished for a few minutes, and then volunteered to carry Katie's shell collection basket.

As they headed off in the distance I reminded them that we were in a spot that would certainly not have enough water to float the skiff in an hour. As they disappeared, I knew in my heart that they would not be back before I had to move the boat.

I had just enough luck fishing to keep my interest up. I caught a couple of small sharks and a couple of flounders. One of my flounders measured 14.5 inches which as any fishermen will know is just one half inch short of legal. The other flounder was closer to 13 inches.

I kept checking on Katie and Alex, but they finally were so far away from the boat that I could not see them. At the same time, the tide was going out a little faster than I calculated. As the water got to 1.5 feet I decided to move the skiff. I pulled the anchor and made it into some deeper water. I thought about anchoring, but I knew they would be back soon so I just circled around in the Inlet looking for good spots to mark for fishing. It was not long before I saw them coming. I nosed the skiff up into shallow water and picked up my passengers.

My daughter seemed like she was in heaven. She had found lots of shells in their walk of about one mile. She was so excited to have been in such a special place. We headed back to home while making plans for our next trip.

The next day they spent most of their time at the Bluewater Cove pool while I did some boat maintenance with the help of a friend who replaced my seized up bilge pump. Having to miss a day on the water seemed to make Friday, the last day of their visit, even more special.

I could not believe it when she wanted to take her dogs for a run Friday morning at the long Cedar Point Croatan Trail. Even early that morning you could cut the humidity with a knife. She came back refreshed, but the dogs were exhausted.

After a quick dip in the pool, Katie and Alex were again ready to head out to the Inlet. I suggested that we go out the Inlet and cut back towards Swansboro and anchor just off the popular stretch of beach there. Katie decided she wanted her own beach so we went a little farther towards Swansboro and found some sand emerging from the water as the tide went out.

We managed to anchor the skiff at a cut with a nice current so I could fish while Katie and Alex wandered the newly emerged beach. I think it was love at first sight. It is pretty hard to resist a place as magical as Bogue Inlet. When you can be there on a sunny warm day, it is easy to think that you have found the most magical place on earth.

Fishing was about the same as the day before. I caught a couple of small flounders and a small shark. There was more entertainment since there was a dog having fun on the almost adjoining beach. We had paid attention to the weather and wanted to be back at our dock well before the predicted four PM line of storms. We headed home at about 3:30 for the 15 minute ride back to Bluewater Cove.

As we helped my daughter pack for the trip home Friday evening, she was already planning her next trip to visit her special places. I doubt that I can guess which one is at the top of her list, but they are all pretty special in my book. She was also talking about a visit to the Aquarium and Beaufort. She has a serious case of Crystal Coast love.

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