An updated version of this post can be found at this link.
Living on one of North Carolina's coastal rivers is a true pleasure, and I have written about it before including this post, How to Enjoy a Coastal River.
I am reminded of how wonderful the river is each morning when I look out towards it from our dock behind our home. Part of my morning routine is to check the tide level on one of the dock pilings and survey the water surface.
Then I try to gauge the winds out on the river. If it is really windy out on the river, it is pretty easy to catch from the visible whitecaps. However, it can be very calm in our inlet, look calm on the river and still be pretty windy on the river once you are out there. About the only way to really know how windy it is on the river is to get in the boat and head out to the river.
There are mornings when the air, wind, and tides just seem to tell me to get in the boat and ride down the river. It is one of the urges in life that I don't try to resist at all.
Many mornings I can actually take the boat down to Swansboro and be back before my wife even gets out of bed. Usually early in the morning, even in the summer, the river mostly belongs to me.
Once in a while, there is an early morning fisherman or someone checking their crab traps, but mostly an early ride down the river is a solitary experience that lets you really enjoy the pleasure of being on the water.
There are couple of reasons that the traffic on the White Oak is so light. One, there is plenty of other water for boating down here, and two, there are oyster beds in the lower river which require you to pay attention while boating. The channel is well marked, but if you aren't used to following buoys it can be challenging especially if the light is bad. Many boaters would rather not pay attention.
If you are lucky enough to have a GPS and can follow someone up the river who knows where they are going, it is pretty easy to establish your own road map. Most people going up the river know where they are going, but once in a while someone who seems to know where they are headed will venture off into shallow water and start looking lost.
I can think of nothing that I enjoy as much as my early morning boat ride. It sure beats mowing the lawn or going to a sales meeting.
I have a number of maps of the river posted, but this one shows the most challenging part of the channel between Bluewater Cove at Red Sixteen and Jones Island just before the Swansboro Harbor.
Here is an album with a number of White Oak photos containing GPS data which can give you a good idea of a ride down the river.
This is a photo taken at the deep hole on the White Oak just before Bluewater Cove. I will often circle there waiting for the sun to set or to enjoy a little more time on the river before heading home.
The river is a great place to enjoy the water, but it also leads to lots of other places that take being out on the water to another level. Once you get to know the waters along the Southern Outer Banks, they are not such a big puzzle.
They are, however, a bundle of fun and the reason I live where I do.