Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday Afternoon - Aground in Shallotte Inlet, NC

All members of our family are acutely aware that navigating Shallotte Inlet, between Ocean Isle Beach and Holden Beach, is nothing short of tricky.  

Here's why:

In this aerial photo by, you can see the muddy area to the left...that is sand, even though there are waves that make it look like, well, WATER.   The deeper channel is clearly visible on the right (Holden Beach) side.

Because of the tides that rip through here, the sand shifts around like a living creature, piling up into bars and shoals that move around.  A lot.  Mainly because of this constant shifting, the Inlet isn't marked.

In April every year, all of us develop a heightened sense of alertness, with an ear tilted toward the inlet, because we know that visitors won't necessarily know to hug the Holden Beach side to avoid the hidden sandbars that lurk on the Ocean Isle side.  To run aground in the Shallotte Inlet on the wrong wind or sea, or with night approaching, can be deadly.

Soooo, when I got the call from Husband around 4:00 Sunday afternoon that he was aground in Shallotte Inlet, I jumped in the car and drove down there.  All photos from my Iphone...sorry for the quality, but you'll "get the picture"!

This is my first view when I emerged from the beach access path:

No boat.  But, the inlet beach is very long.  So, walk, walk, walk.

Aha!  There he is - the boat with the black bottom.  Looks like water under him, until you get closer...

The Ocean Isle Fishing Center World Cat is standing by, and a smaller boat that came to help is in the middle.  That's Husband STANDING in the inlet.  Know what I mean?  Standing in the inlet??

In the time it took me to walk around to the tip of the sandbar, the tide almost completely went out.  That fast!  You can see the waves out on the horizon, thankfully calm and a couple hundred yards away.  Those are what get you in trouble when you run aground in an inlet. 
Husband has just figured out that I am in the neighborhood, and taking his picture.  He yells out, "Little White Dove!  I'm  Running Bear!".  Stand-up comic, he is.

Nothing to do now but put the anchor out, abandon ship and wait for the tide to come in.

Walking where water was, only 15 minutes ago.

You can see from the shadows that night is fast approaching - the absolute worst time to be trying to maneuver a boat off a sandbar with the tide coming in behind you.   

The dogs are unconcerned, and wait with us for the incoming tide and son Barrett to come join the fray. 

Barrett arrives later in the evening, and deftly ushers Dad down the waterway in inky darkness.  Working together, they swiftly engineer the boat off the sandbar with the help of the incoming tide, retrieve the anchor, and head home.

Thankfully, all's well that ends well.  Lesson learned.  Hug the Holden Beach side of Shallotte Inlet.  

No harm to the boat or engines, just to my Husband's bruised ego.  As you might imagine.  But it could've been a lot worse.  Thanks again, good old Guardian Angel!


Jenny Woolf said...

Glad it worked out well at the end. Those dogs sure don't care!!!

Linda McMullan said...

Jenny, you are so right - those dogs only care about their dinner (enhanced with canned cat food that ONLY comes from their human Grandpa) and riding on the boat. Ahhh, it's a Dog's Life!

snowwhite said...

What a beautiful ocean shimmering in cobalt blue! But, sea hides danger and mystery right there under water even though it looks very calm and peaceful. I can see clearly the differences of colors of the sea in your photo. Linda, your story interests me very much and makes me realize nature has many faces. I was surprised with the picture of your husband standing in the middle of the sea. I would have been puzzled without your explanation! I hope now everything is all right. Say hello to your cute dogs!
Best wishes,


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