A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6.30- South Ave. Utility Work

Old Glory is secured to the bucket
Utility workers blocked off South Avenue between Wall St. and King St. for a while today while replacing a utility pole.

I arrived just as the worker in the bucket finished lashing the flag to the bucket... the flag was placed on the pole along with thousands of others throughout town and Pamlico County in anticipation of Independence Day.

The utility work caused severe traffic tie-ups in the downtown Oriental area...

I stood and watched for about ten minutes, and there must have been at least four or five cars in that time that had to turn around in the Oriental Inn parking lot in order to bypass the blockage (since Wall St. [off to the left in the picture] was the only way in or out) at this heavily-traveled intersection leading from greater downtown Oriental to the sprawling suburb of Neuse River Heights and to such popular tourist destinations as Lou-Mac Park, the fishing pier, the South Avenue waterfront (visible dead ahead in the photo), and Miniscule Beach.

The levels of driver frustration were palpable... as one fed-up driver rashly exclaimed in a fit of violent rage: "Well, I s'pose ah'll jes turn 'round 'bout hair, and go on back 'round t'other way." Really, that's about as accurate a quote as I can give him... that guy clearly needs to chill a bit, take a little BP med and relax ... ONC stylee! We don't appreciate that kind of reactionary threat around here...

Monday, June 29, 2009

6.29- Provisioning "Shelly Lewis"

Capt. and crew of "Shelly Lewis" prepare to get underway
(click on image to enlarge)
The "Shelly Lewis" shoved off this afternoon to go shrimping. I'm guessing she is going out to trawl in Pamlico Sound, but that is just a guess.

The Captain (on the right, on the dock) and his two crew spent about a half hour carrying gear and provisions out to the boat at one of the Garland Fulcher Seafood Co. docks on Raccoon Creek.

About a case of Dr. Pepper (I'm guessing that is reserved for the Capt.'s mess), several of bottled water, bags of groceries, boxes of who knows what, block and tackle, gasoline (prob. for a generator) and my favorite, the giant sealed plastic bag stuffed with clothes, shoes and a sleeping bag (crewman in black shirt).

Once loaded, they backed out into Raccoon Creek, then headed headed out the harbor towards the end of the breakwater and Oriental Marker No. 8:

Godspeed, "Shelly Lewis," and may you return safely with all aboard and a hold full!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6.27- Cruising ketch

Saw this Dutch-looking gaff-rigged ketch coming into the harbor this afternoon.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

6.23- "Buoy Maker"

"Buoy Maker" sails down Raccoon Creek into Oriental Harbor
"Buoy Maker" is a beaut of a boat I regularly spot sailing around local waters. Here she is on a run out of Raccoon Creek into the anchorage of Oriental harbor after buzzing the Town Dock.

Now, I would call Buoy Maker a "gaff-rigged catboat," but certain people I know insist that that is a redundancy...

One of those people is this really really really old dude (and for you folks who live outside of Oriental, add another two or three "really"s) who thinks he can sail, tells me that if it has any other sail rig, it is not, by definition, a catboat of any sort whatsoever.

This nameless person insists, for instance, that the boat I called a "catboat" in my May 5 2009 DP is not a catboat at all, but a "non-such."

Well, the nameless critic may be from one of our Yankee states wherefrom catboats originate (state remains nameless to protect identity), and he may have owned a catboat or two (gaff-rigged, of course), but I maintain that a catboat can have ANY sail rig at all provided it is only one sail, there is no standing rigging (the mast is free-standing), and the mast sets way forward near the bow.

In any case, my critic and I can certainly agree that "Buoy Maker" is 100% "Catboat."

Monday, June 22, 2009

6.22- Shrimping in the harbor

A small boat trawls for shrimp in Oriental harbor at sunset

With June comes the evening ritual of a dozen or more small boats trawling for Brown Shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) in and near Oriental Harbor... they are not allowed to shrimp on the other side of the Hwy. 55 bridge, seen in the above photo.

The boats motor slowly around the harbor and a bit into the River Neuse (generally counterclockwise, so far as I can tell) dragging their trawlnets behind, then hoisting and sorting the catch in the boat.

Typically the first shrimpers show up in the harbor in the late afternoon/early evening, and by sunset there will be a dozen or more working the harbor, many staying until near midnight.

Brown shrimp comprise about 65 percent of all shrimp catches in NC... In the fall, shrimpers will concentrate on White shrimp (aka Green Tail) and a minuscule catch of pink shrimp in the spring.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

6.21- "Mildred"

The wreck of "Mildred"

Today I sailed the 10 Bauer Classic dinghy up Smith's Creek to the "Y" near the headwaters, and ducked into the eastern tributary, known as "Morris' Creek."

I have seen this wreck often from the other side, but I have always been in someone else's boat or a boat with deep draft, so this was the first time I've been able to approach and examine the wreck.

A woman in a neighboring house saw me shooting, and chatted with me, telling me all she knew of the vessel:

It was owned by a local black commercial fisherman known as "Popsicle." The boat had been afloat and in seemingly good condition when the woman moved onto the neighboring property in the mid-80's, but has since sunk and deteriorated as we see now.

Here is the approximate location on GoogleMaps... Cloud happens to obscure this one particular spot:

View Untitled in a larger map

Saturday, June 20, 2009

6.20- Jumping Mullet

Two Striped Mullet (Mugil cephalus) fail to reach orbit above the River Neuse
(Click on above image for full size)

I am told that the fish around here that jump entirely out of the water are mullet, while those that just break the surface in a silvery flash are menhaden.

The "Jumping Mullet" have begun their annual summer dance above the waters.

In the photo above, the mullet on the left is descending after a prodigious leap while the one on the right is in ascent, having just emerged where the water is rippled.

At right (click image to enlarge) is a closer crop of the left-side fish (above) as seen in the frame immediately preceding today's feature photo (camera on multi-shot setting)... The lone fish is still ascending from the disturbed water (lower right of photo on right) where it loosed its watery bonds.

At times one can count one or two dozen mullet-jumps per minute at a given stretch of river or creek bank, especially when the wind is down and the waters are calm.

There seems to be no consensus on why mullet jump...

Some say they are escaping predators (mullet themselves eat plant matter, so they don't chase flies or bugs)...

Some scientists theorize that mullet have the physiognomy to absorb gaseous oxygen... one scientific study of mullet jumping by the University of Southwestern Louisiana observed an inverse correlation between numbers of mullet jumps per minute and dissolved oxygen levels in the surrounding waters... suggesting the fish supplement low water-supplied oxygen by taking some breaths of fresh air.

Yet others say the fish is simply having fun, playing and jumping. To my unskilled eye, that seems the most satisfying explanation. Sometimes anthropomorphizing is irresistible.

For whatever reason they jump, and no matter how many are jumping around you, they sure are hard to capture in a photograph... by the time you detect a jump and begin swinging the camera around, the fish is already back in the water.

I have found that to photograph mullet, one needs to find a place where there is a lot of jumping, then point and focus at one spot in the water and wait with the shutter half-depressed until a fish happens to jump into the viewfinder... also multi-shot (motor drive simulator) is recommended, which usually means having to shoot in manual or aperture-priority mode.

Mullet often jump two, three and four times directly in a row... If you can lead them properly after the first jump, you may be able to get a shot of the second or third jump, if made.

For all my advice, all I have is about three passable, yet blurry, shots of mullet in the air and about seventy clear pictures of splashes in the water as the mullet lands... Here are a couple detail crops of the above two fish splashing down in quick succession:
(Click below images to enlarge)


Friday, June 19, 2009

6.19- Bow to Stern Youth Sailing School

The "Bow to Stern Sailing School" youth fleet maneuvers through the Oriental harbor anchorage

The Bow to Stern Sailing School’s Youth Sailing Program is in its second year... These guys are out sailing almost every day for eight weeks during the summer.

See the Bow to Stern youth sailing program's webpage at http://www.towndock.net/youthsailing

Read an article about this, their second year, at TownDock.net: http://towndock.net/news/second-season-for-youth-sailing-camp

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6.11- Skywatch Friday

Front from the West moving across the River Neuse
(Click on image to enlarge)

This very dramatic cloud formation marked the edge of a front moving in from a northwesterly direction earlier this week.

A Northeast-Southwest line of clouds extended from horizon to horizon, moving off to cross the last 25 miles of marshlands and barrier islands before hitting open ocean.

Rain soon followed these ponderous clouds, as you might guess.

I look forward to seeing the other Skywatch pictures from around the world on the other SWF sites listed at:


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

6.10- Washing the fish guts

Town workers pressure wash the Lou-Mac Park Fishing Pier in Oriental

The fishing pier at Lou-Mac park is a terrific Oriental asset, but it does require maintenance.

Fishers use the railings as a butcher block to chop all manner of live and dead fish, crustaceans and other critters into assorted pieces... The bait gets chopped and put on hooks, then the incoming fish get chopped for more bait. The "keepers" usually are taken away live in buckets or coolers of water, but some are also field cleaned on the pier's railings.

And so the railings get this treatment every so often.

In the background of today's picture you can see one of the Oriental School of Sailing vessels tacking up towards Oriental channel Marker No. 1 about to be waked by a sports-fisher powering out of Oriental Harbor.