There are 3 kinds of hurricanes, good, bad and somewhere in between. The good ones stay far offshore as did Hurricane Larry most recently. As a beachcomber, I have always loved watching the power and beauty of waves. That fascination has been a constant subject for my photography since beginning life on Hatteras nearly 50 years ago.
Traveling from several hundred miles away, Larry’s waves arrived as a south swell, with a hefty current sweeping northward. Most of the surfers left the island for points north where conditions were smaller and more approachable.
I hadn’t worked a beachscape in a few years, and felt I was in the company of an old friend. It was just me, my camera and Larry’s pulse.
The outside bars were breaking nicely.
The inside bars were hard and hollow.
I was entertained by an occasional wave rolling back into an oncoming one.
Larry put on a show and was good to stay well off the coast.
For a couple years I’ve been driving past the construction site of Hatteras Island’s newest bridge. Called the Jug Handle because of its shape, it bypasses a section of highway 12 that’s been constantly washed out by the ocean. Like most bridges, construction began from two terminal locations, to ultimately meet in the middle. For me, it’s a chance to shoot some interesting pictures.
Ten days ago as the north terminus was nearing its south counterpart, I took a photo from the dunes across the highway.
A week later I shot a similar photograph from a closer vantage point along the sound side shoreline.
The cranes are enormous.
Water depth along the route is only a few feet deep, too shallow to work from a barge, so a trestle system was built along each side to accommodate machinery. This is the south end working its way northward.
Giant pilings are delivered on the north end where workers bridle them to a crane for lifting.
On the lower end, the 150 foot pile is secured in a pivotal yoke as it’s lifted.
It is transferred to a towering frame where it’s driven precisely into the sandy bottom.
A pile driver is placed on top to pound it the desired depth.
It looked like each impact drove the piling several feet. The two bridge ends will soon be connected. The 2.4 mile roadway is scheduled for opening early 2022.
A pound net is a fish trap that corrals fish into a pen where they are kept alive. They swim in the enclosure until they can be bailed out. In 1977 some commercial fishing friends of mine were setting up a pound net.
Eddie O’Neal, Ed Corley and Asa Gray were partners in this venture. They worked under the name Easy Money Fish Company, and constructed their net in an area of the Pamlico Sound, known as Scott’s Reef.
On a calm day, I rode out with Ed to check it out. They weren’t catching much at the time, but I photographed the basic layout shooting Panatomic-X, a fine grained black and white film.
The fish follow a portion of the net called a lead, which channels them into a pound where they cannot escape.
They’re penned in until the fishermen come to get them. Any unwanted or protected species are then released alive into open waters. Despite the labor intensive work to set up, a pound net is an efficient way to catch fish.
Thirty-five years later I photographed another net near Ocracoke Island. With commercial fishing getting to be a more difficult livelihood, there doesn’t seem to be as many as there used to be.
Years ago, Eddie O’Neal (1982) and Ed Corley (1985) died in separate weather-related commercial fishing incidents. Asa Gray passed away in 2018 after many decades as a waterman. How those guys loved to fish!
December of 1985 I went on a three day fishing trip with Captain Terry Saunders aboard the 80 foot trawler, Richard Wayne. Based in Wanchese, he was going offshore, dragging for winter flounder. For two days, productivity was moderate with calm seas.
That night, lying in a forepeak bunk I felt changes in the tempo of the waves. By early morning the wind had freshened from the northeast making for some choppy conditions.
Stevie Daniels’ Bailey Boy fished nearby.
The captains discussed navigating the narrow shoaling channel at Oregon Inlet before conditions deteriorated further.
They decided to cut the trip short, head back and not take unnecessary chances, crossing the shallow bar into the inlet. I shot Bailey Boy heading over the shoal as it followed us home.
My friend Eric caught this horseshoe crab in his nets. In order to grow, it was shedding its hardshell to temporarily become a soft-shell. Island life constantly reveals wonders in nature.