Monday, July 13, 2009


A reader posted a comment on yesterday's journal asking two questions. The first asked about our new island radio station. Information about the station (including a link to listen on the web) is available here:

The second question asked about how our beach changes from day to day. The reader mentioned that some beach communities "groom" portions of shoreline to create people-friendly areas. As he or she guessed, no such intervention is done on Ocracoke. Generally speaking, however, Ocracoke beach (and not just the lifeguard area) is very people-friendly. We can have small, gently rolling waves, or more powerful (great for body-surfing) rollers, but typically the seafloor slopes gradually, making it ideal for families and very care-free swimming. Sometimes, of course, sand bars form, and there might be a deeper trough between the beach and the outer bar where the largest breakers meet their first obstacles. Once in a while a pool of water (maybe three feet deep or so) will get trapped higher up on the beach after exceptionally high tides.

There are reasons for caution however. Ocean swimming is very different from pool swimming, and everyone (parents especially) should never be complacent. Currents change frequently, and rip currents can form unexpectedly. They pose the greatest threat to beach goers. Information about rip currents (how they form, how to recognize them, and what to do if you're caught in one) is available here: The ocean is powerful and deserves your full respect!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the second half of my father's short journal. I call it Remembering Growing up on Ocracoke. You can read it here.


  1. Debbie Leonard8:00 AM

    You often mention going to the sound to swim; where do you go? Is it to a public or private access. I've been swimming at Springer's Point after kayaking over there, but that's all. Are there other good public access points?


  2. People swim on the sound shore around from the south point, but be sure you know what you are doing. It's been a while since I've swum there, but sometimes the current is strong (especially when the tide is changing), and there can be a sudden and deep drop-off at times. Just be aware of conditions. Springer's Point is a convenient swimming area if you can walk or bike (there is no parking there), and don't mind braving mosquitoes along the wooded path. Sometimes when we're out clamming or kayaking we'll just take time to swim and play out on the shoals.

  3. Anonymous4:54 PM

    Visiting the beach one is allowed to bring food? a cooler? are there trash receptacles or are beach goers expected to pack it in / pack it out?

    Curious as I saw a picture of the lovely blue Hyde County PAYT bags. How has that been working are things picking up? does the idea fly with renters? Are there those that think it stinks --sorry could not help myself.

  4. Anonymous11:22 PM

    And information--and thoughtful--response. Thank you.

  5. Beach goers often bring lawn chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, coolers, toys for toddlers, etc. Sometimes, if they can find a private area, they don't bring anything (including bathing suits).

    Re. Pay as You Throw: This has met with mixed reactions. Now the county commissioners have offered options. I'll discuss them in a future post.

  6. Anonymous9:00 AM

    I certainly hope your town has recovered from the shock of what happened to your July 4th festivities to step back and ask some hard questions. First who recommended using that particular vendor for the fireworks? What kind consideration of looking at their safety record occurred? were these summer workers trained properly-certified?? had they ever done this before --did they have plenty of rest after loading and driving the route to the island??

    I know this may not be the place for answers but seriously the entire island was at risk. What happened prior to the explosion? what set everything off? was someone using a cell phone could that have ignited something we are not to use cell phones when pumping gas -- was everyone that perished in the cab at the time of the explosion? the survivor had jumped out as I think i have read in accounts -- it was truly a sad sad day but to truly investigate the events that led up to the moments prior to the explosion will involve some difficult questions to be answered truthfully. In order that proper safe handling of these materials is made evident and no short cuts. safety precautions are called precautions for a reason.

    The memory of these well intentioned workers should be devoted to the preservation of life saving steps when engaged in dangerous activities

  7. Please rest assured that local, state, and (I believe) federal investigators are looking into the fireworks explosion tragedy very carefully. I would be surprised if this disaster didn't change many things re. fireworks displays, not only on Ocracoke, but throughout North Carolina, and beyond.