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Jug Handle Bridge

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.

 

 

Pound Nets

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!

Crossing the Bar

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.

Earth Day

With Earth Day officially two days ago, I thought about some natural wonders that I’ve seen. During the 80’s and 90’s, I made quite a few trips to play and photograph in Costa Rica. They were all diverse, fantastic experiences, and I especially admired tropical rainforests.

On a 1994 trip, traveling with long time friend Allen Jones, we hiked into remote Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula and spent a better part of a week camping, exploring and taking pictures.

Considered one of the most biodiverse systems on earth, the park at Corcovado is a classic example of old growth tropical rainforest.

Leaving Corcovado, we noticed a logging road just outside the park so we drove in. A huge clearing indicated lots of tree cutting.

Continuing down the road, we watched a truck leaving, loaded with huge logs.

The red dirt road meandered up into a dense forest.

At the end of the road, workers were dragging logs from the woods then loading them onto a truck.

It was a good time for my limited Spanish to came in handy. We introduced ourselves and asked if we could take some photographs.  They welcomed us and continued working.

Logs were skidded from the forest one at a time then cut to length for transport.

Back in the forest were bare stumps selectively numbered for harvest.

With such beautiful heartwood, the trees must have been quite old.

While cutting a log, the man on the left caught a small wood fragment in his eye. I got my first aid kit equipped with some eye drops to wash it out, a technique I learned as an EMT. He was quite appreciative. Despite destruction of the forest, I had to respect these men, working so hard to earn a living, supporting their families.

Decades later I wonder how much if any, of that virgin forest is remaining.