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Saturday, January 29, 2011

On the river one week after the snow storm

 It was on January 22, 2011, just a week before I wrote this post, that the Crystal Coast got hit with a pretty good snow storm.  We had four inches along the White Oak River, and a few miles away near the Emerald Isle beaches, they had seven inches of snow.  It even stuck to the roads which is very unusual here.

As it was snowing that Saturday, I made a promise to myself.  As soon as the snow stopped, I would try to get on the river if the tides and winds cooperated, and the temperature got above 50F.

These pictures provide a pretty good idea of the snow that we got from the storm.  Saying that it was the third snowstorm that we have seen this year makes it sound like we live in a North Carolina snow belt.

Fortunately is not nearly as bad as it sounds.  This last storm was by far the largest of the three that we have had in the winter of 2010-2011, but even with this largest storm our driveway melted clean by noon of the next day.  I bet I know some northern inhabitants who would trade their last storm for our "blizzard."

All week after our snow, the weather here continued to improve while the Northeast was being pounded with snow.  We even woke up one morning to 54F.  It was great to return to more normal temperatures, but the tides remained very low until late in the week, and I did not want to chance getting stuck off my lift so my skiff stayed at the dock.

With the nicer weather, and my boat still on the lift, I returned to my afternoon hikes which the coldest weather had stopped..  To have some computer fun I started using the My Tracks app on my Android powered Droid phone to record my hikes.  With the link you can see one of my afternoon hikes on a map.

While there is a very new road missing on the aerial photos of our subdivision, you still can get an idea of how my hike took me on the edge of the marsh, through our boat yard, over some open land and up to the lake at the center of Bluewater Cove.  I was looking for hooded mergansers, who have been delighting us with their showy plumage, but there were no ducks on the pond that afternoon.

When I finally decided to make good on my promise and check the river out, it was twenty minutes to noon and the temperature crawled over 50F.  I was bundled up with a vest and hooded jack which were both on over my life jacket suspenders. I added a nice cap and sunglasses and then pulled my hood up.  I would prefer headed down the river with just shorts and a tee-shirt, but we got a ways to go on that.  I have to go back to late November to find some close to warm boating.

It probably should be lesson one in boating.  The air temperature around you is most often going to be close to the water temperature.  Today was no different.  The water temperature was in the mid-forties, and if you add something close to 35 MPH for a windchill, riding in the skiff actually felt like I was outside in a temperature in the low thirties to upper twenties.  You might say that it was still pretty nippy out on the river.

The ride idling out the gut to the river wasn't too bad. but when I turned and gave the skiff some throttle and headed down river, I could really feel that wind chill.   As you can see from the map, I made it almost to Jones island near Swansboro.

There were no clouds in sky, everything was a beautiful blue but it was still too cold for much of boating even bundled up like I was.

On my way back, I took to circle near the red sixteen buoy so I could safely to check in with Foursquare with my cell phone.  While there is little danger of someone stealing my honorary title as Mayor of Red Sixteen, you cannot be too safe these days.

The cold weather has turned the gut which runs from our house out to the White Oak river into a big bird sanctuary.  I have gotten a number of great bird pictures which I have posted on the web.

With the weather warming, our big bird population has dropped somewhat.  Still I photographed a couple of nice white herons sunning themselves in the pines behind our home the same afternoon as my chilly boat ride.

This winter has been one to remember, but I am hoping that my boat trip sent a strong message to winter.  We have had enough already, just ship whatever cold weather and snow that is left over to Canada and New England. 

After all most of those frozen Northern souls choose to live there, and secretly enjoy shoveling the white stuff.

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