Category Archives: beach

The Breakthrough

Tropical cyclones are better experienced from a distance. Earlier this month Hurricane Earl, hundreds of miles out to sea, swept by us. High seas churned up and washed through in expected areas.  The S-curve originally paved a bit straighter, has long been notorious for ocean over-wash. The S configuration is due to the fact, it has been relocated westward so many times. Arguably it has been one the most expensive sections of road to maintain in the state.

With the new bypassing bridge opened, traffic will no longer need the traditional route.

Since the S-curve was abandoned, this was the first time an over wash has broken through the spot that has been repeatedly dug out, rebuilt and reused. This time that won’t happen, ever again.

Road signs are still in place with the asphalt surface buried under accreted sand.

Hundreds of sandbags were of little help against the power of the sea. As part of the bridge agreement they, along with the roadbed, will be excavated and removed.

For over 30 years Mirlo Beach has been a fantasy development that is becoming another victim to the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Oceanfront property owners in dire shape, have gotten permission to move their houses west toward a street no longer needed. At the very best, it should give them a few more years to ponder their options.

Meanwhile, the Black Pearl stands stoically defiant in nature’s grasp.

Chalk Up Another

After a few days of northerly gales, I got up this morning to hear about another oceanfront building succumbing to the perils of the sea. It was not unexpected. I wanted to have a look, and the area south of the Rodanthe pier was ground zero.

There was already a contingent on hand to see the spectacle. With visitors here, I’m sure most of them had never seen such a sight. Walking in I saw photographer friends, Don Bowers and Dan Pullen. Sauntering around various vantage points, I settled in on a wind-protected elevated perch where Don and Dan joined me. They were shooting up a storm.

Over the years I’ve lost count how many buildings I’ve seen destroyed. I’d venture that it approaches 50. In 2008 I watched one on Sea Haven Street actually buckle and go down.

Today after a 2 hour wait I got to witness another one in the process. It was leaning eastward on piles high over the beach as waves plowed beneath it.

 After an hour we heard a little snap. Fifteen minutes later another cracking sound. It was then I knew it was going to sea. Five minutes later we heard another crunch. A minute passed and the creaking picked up into a crash. Suddenly before our eyes, the foundation gave way and lowered the structure on to the incoming waves. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch  getting splashed with water and melting away.

In a matter of seconds, it had collapsed…

At first it floated around, teetering in the surf.

As water poured in, it began breaking apart, expelling contents.

Dan got up-close and personal as a wall of debris washed toward him.

In less than 5 minutes, you’d never know it was a two story house.

As man builds so close to the sea, the messy spectacle continues!

Parting Shots

Some of my first memories living on Hatteras Island involved surfing next to the Salvo shipwreck. Locals referred to it as the Richmond. It was, and still is an iconic feature of the village. Over the years, even surrounded by tumultuous seas, it has held fast and never budged.

According to state records it is the remnants of the Pocahontus, a Civil War transport steamer that wrecked during a storm in 1862.

I go to it regularly, sometimes checking the waves, to meditate, relax or take some pictures. Last Saturday I did just that. It was a beautiful day, waves rolling in with four cormorants perched on it.

Early Sunday morning an approaching front brought gale force winds. Anxious to see the transforming ocean conditions, I drove out on the beach to see how it looked. Hunkered in my truck, I photographed the wreck through a windswept downpour. 

I shoot impulsively. So could these be my last photographs of 2021?

Maybe not!

Larry

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.

Christmas 2020

For years, I went to my parents’ house for Christmas, although sometimes I’d stay at home here on the island. Christmas Day on Hatteras is a time of indescribable peace, quiet and hardly any traffic. There’s no feeling like it any other day of the year. Most transplants leave and travel to be with families elsewhere. The beaches are nearly empty and it would seem those still here have the entire place to themselves.

Combing the beaches on Christmas Day I’ve found a traditional symbol of the time, what I’d call makeshift Christmas trees. Whenever I see them they touch my heart and, I photograph them.

Christmas Day of 2018 this undecorated tree stood out on an empty beach.

On Christmas Day of 2019, I was happy to see this naturally decorated one. They’re always anonymous and delightful to see.

Merry Christmas!