Saturday and Sunday this Labor Day weekend were about as nice as you get for early September weather on the NC coast. Mild (mid-80’s), low humidity, light northerly breeze, and the ocean was about as smooth as a lake. On Saturday, we beached “Sandbar Hopper” on the east end of Bear Island (Hammocks Beach State Park) and walked around to thhe ocean side. Lots of sand moved during Irene, but not sure where it went. All the State Park “no alcohol” signs were washed away, too 😉 . The west end of Bogue Banks didn’t show evidence of appreciable buildup of sand (or signs!).
Generally, there was very little storm damage here. The docks at Island Harbor Marina took a lot of damage, and other private sound-side docks were worse for the storm. The dunes on Emerald Isle had very little damage, but the beach is very steep right now. The steepness helped to deflect the energy of the water into the surf zone rather than the dunes, I think. A few years ago, Emerald Isle pumped lots of sand on the beach, and while it’s coarse sand and not as nice as the sand at Bear Island, it served its purpose in the storm.
We went back to Bear Island on Sunday. The tide was half-high and rising when we got there, So we easily ran the Bear Inlet access channel, and worked our way up along the back of the island very close to the inlet. We were the first boat in there, but as the day progressed, about 15 others showed up. Walked along the beach on the ocean side, and the dunes had taken a beating. The beach was very flat (still is) and the waves crashed into the dunes during the storm. The high tide line is now at the base of the dunes. It’s natural movement of sand, but clearly the sea took some island back. I expect we lost a lot of turtle eggs, as those nests that hadn’t hatched were flooded (there were 34 nests on the 3 miles of Bear Island this year). When we left, we took Sandbar Hopper out Bear Inlet into the ocean, and ran east to Bogue Inlet. The damage to the dunes was clearly visible where we were, about 1/4 mile offshore.
The ocean was smooth, with widely spaced small swells as we skimmed over the water. The bouys marking Bogue Inlet are still out of place from the storm, but on a day like Sunday, you really don’t need them, just watch the water and the breakers. As we cruised into Bogue Inlet, we looked at the crowd on Coast Guard Island (a spit at the end of Bogue Banks) and were glad we’d gone to Bear Inlet. Must have been a couple hundred boats, with huge crowds swimming, sunning, and enjoying the holiday weekend. We scooted over to the Coast Guard channel, then around to the back channel, under the bridge and back to the marina.
Grilled tuna and portabello mushroom caps for dinner; a great weekend.