A: When it's a 20% chance of a thunderstorm and I'm out on the water!
Dad and I took my "new" (to me) kayak out yesterday for my first real kayak trip. We watch the weather report, and they said there was a slight chance of rain, but we saw only a few clouds, and the wind was very mild, so we went ahead with our plans.
We put in under the drawbridge, because I'd been that way before, and we paddled under the drawbridge and around to Taylor's Creek. We hadn't got very far when we heard the horn announcing that the bridge was going to open, so we stopped and turned around and watched a shrimp boat come in. As we watched, we saw a big black cloud coming our way, and began to hear the first rumbles of thunder. We continued into Taylor's creek and saw the Beaufort waterfront from the water; the Maritime Museum's watercraft center is made to be seen that way. The cloud become more and more ominous, and so our trip began with a little hard paddling.
I knew we could stop at a dock, even a private one, if we needed to. No one would begrudge a kayak a little dock space in a thunderstom. But I didn't know how to get in or out of the boat on a dock, and it's not a skill I wanted to develop in a hurry. I'm pretty sure I would have been swimming. So we paddled on, and got down to a little local park where there's a little sandy area for kayakers, canoes, and small boats. We pulled they kayaks up, grabbed our phones, camera, and keys, and decided to go get some coffee. Fortunately, since we didn't have our wallets, I have a running tab at the local coffee shop.
It rained on us on the way, and so we waited probably 45 minutes for it to fair off, and then walked back down the couple of blocks to the park. There were still some pretty impressive clouds, a stalled frontal boundary that was supposed to do nothing, but we listened to Dad's weather radio and it said that there would be no cloud-to-ground lightning, and we were already going to get wet, so we forged ahead.
We went across Taylor's Creek to Carrot Island, and followed the island back up to the mouth of the creek, and went around. This time of year, the horses are usually way down in the marshy end of the island or on the back side, and we wanted to try to see them. We did get sprinkled on several times, and heard a fair bit of thumder in the distance.
The backside of the island has some little beaches, and then it opens up into some marshy areas and also a big sandy spur on the seaward side. We wandered as far as we could into the marshes, made a 10 foot portage across some of them, and found a big area of open water, with the beachy spur to our right. We paddled basically to the end of the open water, irritating green, white, and lesser herons, oyster catchers, the occasional egret, and white ibis. And we found the horses! They were much further down than we were, but I had my camera and Dad had binoculars. There were about 15 of them, which is more than I've seen at any one time.
There is a cut through the island at high tide, and we had planned to look for it, but my arms were getting tired and I was afraid I'd be worn out before I could get somewhere to take out. I think it would have taken a portage across the sand, and then some poking around, and we might not have found it. I'll be looking next time I go out, though!
The paddle back was very easy. The tide and the breeze were with us, and the marshes had been flooded, so we didn't have to repeat our portage. We crossed the channel, and went by the Duke Marine Lab docks at Piver Island (and saw the first cloud to ground lightning strike, but the front stayed north of us). We passed by a fairly low dock, and Dad showed me the proper technique for getting out at a dock, so now I at least know the mechanics of it, and then we were back under the bridge, stowing the kayaks and headed for home.
Last night when I went to bed, my arms and hands ached so much I had a hard time getting to sleep. Today, I still feel tired, but I had a great time. I'm ready to go again. With practice, I'll develop some more stamina and be able to see even more great stuff!