Monday, October 08, 2007

It's All Good

A beautiful day at the Coast, off Shakleford Island on Sunday

What a great weekend. It started out looking pretty disappointing with previously made coastal plans cancelled. Then I heard of a local Internet paddling group (you gotta love the Internet) that had 27 going down for a weekend of camping and paddling, Bear Island and/or Shakleford Island. Perfect!

I arrived at Cedar Point Campground (Croatan National Forest) outside Swansboro on Friday evening. There were kayaks on top of cars everywhere. I was invited to share an overflow spot with Craig and as we introduced ourselves, we soon realized one of those "small world" moments. It turns out that Craig is a canoe instructor and guide at Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co, owned and operated by Joe Jacobs. My first kayak lessons were with Joe's previous company Rockrest Adventures. And it was with Joe and Rockrest Adventures and then with Joe and GetOutdoors, where I then went on to teach sea kayaking for a few years.

It wasn't long before I was enjoying the company of some I'd already knew and paddled with previously, other's I'd heard about, and many I was getting to make new friends with. This was a wonderfully diverse group of people, coming together with a love and interest in being outdoors, paddling, camping, and sharing a social occasion.

There were 27 in attendance, all with different boats, from recreational, inflatable, plastic, kevlar, expedition, and racing styles. As different as the boats were, so were the tents and camp setups. I came home ready to hit Walmart, Target, and REI. This was car camping at it's finest.

The event, fairly loosely organized, had been planned to accommodate all preferences and interests. Starting with various options for eating out or eating group meals in camp, and with 3 different paddling options each day for the variety of skills and endurance levels. I started the weekend with the 'peel em and eat em shrimp' dinner at Bushwackers on the pier at Emerald Isle with 12 new friends.

Saturday morning I joined a group of 13 and paddled out to Bear Island, taking the longer paddle from Swansboro (next to Barrier Island Kayaks), following the Intercoastal behind Huggins and Dudley Island, then getting onto the canoe trail and into the Bear Island Lagoon. We were eventually joined by the others who had started the canoe trail at Hammocks Beach State Park. We all spent a couple hours swimming and picnicking on the beach. Then our group headed out paddling across the sound and inlet to complete the circumnavigation. A third smaller group were paddling on the White Oak River for the day.

A busy parking lot at Bear Island.

Saturday night included a few group dinners at camp. Shrimp Kabobs, hamburgers and hotdogs, corn-on-the-cob, Spanish rice, coleslaw etc... It doesn't get much better.

Sunday there were again different paddling groups forming to accommodate peoples schedules and interests. Another group going out to Bear, this time to the West end of the Island, and a couple groups all heading out to Shakleford, leaving from Radio Island and beaching on Shakleford at the tip of Beaufort Inlet, where we could enjoy the beach and surf, more swimming and boogie boarding.

Launching off Radio Island

I headed back home about 3pm, made a quick stop at the Dairy Queen, and started my 3 hour drive home with a big smile. It had been a wonderful weekend. Now I had to come up with a Halloween costume for my kayak, for one of their next events, a large Halloween paddle on the lake. .

On the way home, I got a call from my son Alan, who invited me out to dinner on my way home through Raleigh. He wanted to tell me about his weekend Adventure Race, and to work out some boat trading. He and friends are off on a Bear Island sea kayaking trip next weekend, as part of their fall break from NC State.


Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

Sounds like you are having some of the great weather we are experiencing... Isn't life on the water grand!

craigcanoer said...

If I follow in your footsteps, will I grow up to be as good as you? It was great to get to know you better, and to learn some new paddling skills from you.