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Friday, July 16, 2010

A World of Dazzling Water

Many people come to the Crystal Coast year after year just to enjoy the beaches. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Our area beaches are some of the finest in the country. However, a significant number of folks come to enjoy the waters beyond the beaches. Those who launch a kayak, skiff, or bay boat get to play in one of the greatest boating playgrounds on the east coast. We have miles and miles of water suitable for boating. You can pretty well find water to suit your boating tastes. We have large coastal rivers, broad open sounds, intricate marshes, and all the ocean you could ever want. This is also a safe area to boat. While the waters of the Intracoastal Waterway are sometimes crowded during the weekend, often during the week, there are very few boats out on the water.
I have enjoyed kayaking for many years, but I am relatively new to power boating. One of the reasons that we picked the Southern Outer Banks as our new home four years ago was my intuition that the area would be a great place to learn how to boat.

That turned out to be exactly the case. In the fall of 2006, I took a boating course from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. That winter I spent a lot of time figuring out what kind of boat and the best place to buy it. We ended up with a 20 ft. Sundance skiff with a 90 HP Yamaha motor.

It has a slight V in the hull so it takes well to choppy water. It also draws very little water, and with a four stroke Yamaha, it is easy on fuel.

At the time we purchased the boat, I hired a local Captain to take a couple of trips with us. That was three years ago, and now I have over one hundred hours piloting the boat. I feel very comfortable boating in our area. I boat enough to know that our channels can change quickly so you need to be careful when you are out on the water.

We often combine fishing with boating, but sometimes we just go for a boat ride. This past weekend I took some friends on a 36 mile boat ride. We actually went ten miles up the White Oak River beyond Stella. In that case the boating was just part of a wonderful Crystal Coast kind of day that also included swimming, biking, and a beach walk over by the Point.

There is something special about going up the river beyond the railroad trestle in Stella. You enter a different world of marshes and Bald Cypress trees. It is a neat spot to get away from it all.

Boating is very weather dependent so the very next day, the weather looked promising so another friend and I set off on another adventure. We took the ferry channel from the Intracoastal Waterway over to the dock at Hammocks Beach and then followed the channel to the end of the vegetation on the backside of Hammocks Beach-Bear Island. Just as we were trying to decide how to navigate the shallow water we had run into, a fishing guide boat came along, and we ended up following him through the short stretch of shallow water. It was a great trip and I have the pictures to prove it.

Other great boat trips include visiting Shackleford Banks down near Beaufort. It is a long ride but well worth the trip. We have seen ponies every time that we have visited. These are pictures from a 2007 visit.

I have only touched on power boating in this post, but I can tell you this is an absolutely wonderful place to enjoy a kayak.

If one of your dreams is becoming a boater, I do not think you can find a nicer place to do it than North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. You will find everything here to be successful in boating from un-crowded waters, to people willing to help you learn about your boat and boat friendly subdivisions like Bluewater Cove.

Living where you can drop your boat in the water and go for a quick morning boat ride while the river is smooth as glass is what I wanted to find, and I found it in Carteret County. 

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