Friday, November 29, 2013

Quick, Again


Charter dock at Carolina Beach
A couple weeks back, I noted how quickly autumn rushed through. But that was hardly noteworthy when compared with the winter we have already had.

Early this week, the skies were dull and heavy, gray with temperatures dropping from a high of 63 at sunrise. By midnight, gale force winds descended, and the next day dawned bright and clear with a wind chill in the teens.

On the other hand, we have found the oysters at Keith's Endurance Seafood ("seafood so fresh it bites", really), and they have been the best ever. Butch bought half a bag and asked Beth to make an oyster stew this past weekend. She did, and Butch shared with us the sweetest, most buttery oysters I have ever eaten. Period.

Good, but not abundant. I stopped by this past Monday to buy some for our traditional Thanksgiving breakfast of oyster stew. Keith's huge walk-in cooler was empty. No oysters except a few jars of already-shucked. He had sold 85 bushels that morning only to learn that none of his oystermen were braving the wicked winds and seas to tong more oysters to sell to Keith. Keith needed 500 bushels between Monday and Friday to satisfy his orders. Not going to happen. He feared he might not have even 30 bushels for the holiday weekend.

From Keith's dock looking toward Oriental and downriver
One lone otter slipped and fished along the edge of the shoal across the channel from us. An adult loon and three young loons have been diving around the docks. And a crumpled V of geese flew by a mile or so off, its racket clear and moving as the flight tried to re-form into an aerodynamic V while they headed east, probably to a favorite patch of open water near Cedar Island. Winter is here, but it should not be here for another month.

The human migration south also continues, a steady trail of boats moving upriver to Adams Creek, the ICW cut from the Neuse River to the Newport River. Two nights ago, a tornado swept in from the ocean leaving a swath of debris from Atlantic Beach through Morehead City and on through Beaufort. We felt the edge of the storm with gusts over 40, but no damage.

After a few inches of rain and two long gloomy days, it has been bloody cold. That means that the inside of the boat is wet even when it is dry and sunny outside. To wit:

The Rain of Winter (inside)  02.17.13
(from the least read post I have ever written and apologies to the four people who originally read it)

I have tried not to whine about it, but summer on a boat in the South can be brutal with unrelenting heat and humidity, skin and clothing perpetually damp and sticky. On the other hand, we have yet to meet a winter's day for which we cannot find comfort aboard the boat (knock on wood). Worst case, even on a day such as today with sharp tendrils of huge winds ripping at our clothing and tearing at our skin, we can bundle into a cocoon with fleece and sleeping bags and hot tea in the saloon (no, it is not properly a "salon" though the Puritans have popularized that term). Mind, this does nothing to alleviate the rain inside, but it makes it bearable. Back to this later.

Friday was warm and reasonably still with temps in the low 60s and "abundant sunshine", as the weather forecasters like to describe a pleasant day for being out of doors. Of course, the weather forecasters should be called weather "guessers" as they are rarely any more accurate than any sane person making a wild ass guess. Yesterday was a fine example of the wholly unscientific results of their forecasts, er, guesses. 

Raindrops and fog on the winter river
A winter precipitation event was something of a certainty. Its extent and duration were mostly unknown. We were predicted to receive, variously, cold air and rain, cold air and snow mixed with rain, snow without accumulation and snow with accumulation. From that series of multiple choice options, we were free to select the outcome most acceptable to each of us. After all, no one knew what would happen until it did.

It rained and, before the temperature dropped below freezing, it snowed. Then the temperature dived into the twenties. Inside our cozy cabin, enveloped by suddenly chilled fiberglass, our warmth (three human furnaces cranking out 98.6 degrees, plus a dog) and warm breath condensed on every cold surface. What had been dry but cool became cold and wet. By morning, it was raining all over the boat. Drips here and there and everywhere. No matter how many towels used or surfaces wiped, the wet flourished at the interface of a cold hull and deck with the interior warm air.

I still like it better than summer. At least in winter I do not stick to whatever I touch.

Charter dock at Carolina Beach
PS
Driving across the bridge over Green Creek this past week, I noted that Southern Cross, one of the infamously homesteading boats in the harbor, had been moved out of the harbor and inside the bridge. Two down, two to go.

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