Raymond's Gut, the inlet which flows into the White Oak River, has a funny angle to it (which you can see in this drone picture) so if there is a quick surge of water up the river from a storm, much of it usually misses us. We have not had a lot of experience with hurricanes in our ten years here. Our only serious experience was Hurricane Irene. While Irene brought high water and an extended period of heavy rain, we only lost power for three hours which was just enough to convince me to run the generator for a while. We had one fairly large fishing boat escape the hurricane by coming into Raymond's Gut. Tropical Storm Hermine just passed almost over top of us, but we only got 4.5 inches of rain and wind guts of 10-20 MPH.
When winter rolls around with what passes for nasty weather here on the Crystal Coast, we have a number of large birds that "hide" or more likely just take up residence in the gut for a while. They spend winter in and around our gut and can often be seen roosting in the neighborhood. When we have a bad storm, there is a place in our inlet where the egrets and herons go to hide from the weather. We even have a famous great egret Frank 29X who hides from Canada's nasty weather in our inlet. Visiting us is actually his winter vacation.
One reason we do live along Raymond's Gut is because we can usually hide from the worst effects of coastal weather but at the same time be only ten to fifteen minutes away from the beaches and those wonderful waves.
We did not come here to Raymond's Gut to hide but to live a dream that I had for many years. My dream was to live on the water and to be able to have a boat and a kayak that were easily launched. It has turned out to be a perfect place to do that and I spend a lot of time watching the water to make certain I take advantage of the great water as often as the many perfect moments out in the White Oak River or out near the Point close to Bogue Inlet present themselves. Being on the big water out by the ocean or on the beautiful White Oak River is the reason we moved from the side of a mountain in Roanoke, Virginia.
As perfect is any place is, there are always challenges in life even along the quiet waters of Raymond's Gut or in rural Canada where we lived for many years. While I talk about hiding, I have never been one to hide. Perhaps I would rather stay in the shadows but I have always been one of those people who when pushed will endure a lot just to stand up for what is right. In New Brunswick, we had an education minister who was implementing policies that were going to harm the rural schools. My wife, Glenda and I, along with others organized and attended school board meetings. I ended up in a public debate in the local newspaper with the minister of education. I guess I finally got under his skin and he finally said that people living in rural areas should not expect good schools. That was the end of him, he had to resign.
While I lost my job and much of our retirement (in stock options that had not vested) by standing up against Apple's unfair treatment of the team of people working for me, I will never regret doing what is right.
Last May 2015, I was part of group that had to step up to the plate and the handle the affairs of the HOA that takes care of the community where we live along the shores of Raymond's Gut. Our management company/developer had unexpectedly dumped us and told us to go find someone else. It was a really tough year, almost as bad as my last year at Apple. As was the case at Apple, greed and selfishness were driving the agenda of a handful of people who wanted things done that would benefit a few at the expense of the many. As is often the case, they would stop at almost nothing to achieve their goals. Fortunately we were able to stand up to them and get through the year.
I even wrote an article, My Decent into HOA Hell, about my HOA experience and it was published by the Raleigh News and Observer. From people reading the article, I found out that our HOA was not alone in its struggles and that NC has very poor supervision of HOAs, Management Companies, and Developers. This website, HEAR4NC, is dedicated to getting better laws enacted in North Carolina and the folks behind it have working to achieve that for years.
It seems our country is bedeviled by this idea that the few deserve to walk on the backs of the many. HOAs are just one of many examples.
Anyway, we finished the year with the HOA righted. The finances were finally in order, and the covenants were being enforced fairly. Then we had to watch as an election rigged with developer proxies in May 2016, swept in a group dedicated to taking the HOA back to its old crooked ways. The brother of the developer was elected president and the husband of the biggest trouble-maker during the previous year became vice-president. Since taking office they have violated our covenants, ignored state law, refused to honor our by-laws, and ignored requests for written minutes. They have also refused to announce meetings or hold a real board meeting where residents could take part. It is a sorry record and they are only four months into the year. They even reversed a decision the previous board made after paying $600 for legal advice from a lawyer. They were arrogant enough to admit they had not even read the opinion from the lawyer.
As is always the case, there are people who want to sweep this under the rug so that others buying in the community will not know about it. However, it would be too big a bump under the rug. Many people interested in our community find me from my Internet postings and ask questions about the community. Lying is not part of how I live so I have to tell the truth. I certainly tell everyone how much that I love living here but an HOA that refuses to have meetings with the community and send out board meeting minutes would be too hard to sugar coat even if I were willing to try.
Just this week, a lady called. She had read my News & Observer article, and started the conversation by saying, "After reading your article, I knew you were the person that I needed to talk to.." It is not surprising to me that none of the people to whom I have explained the situation have changed their mind and bought somewhere else. Everyone has thanked me for telling them the truth. The part of the truth that I have shared with them that is the most important to me is that the more people who move into our neighborhood with the idea that they have to help fix the problem, the better opportunity that we have to actually fix it. We do not need more people oblivious to the problem and unwilling to help fix it. Having a transparent HOA that treats everyone in the community fairly is best way that I know to increase property values.
I remain convinced that we will oust the evildoers that are back in charge of our HOA. An HOA Board on a mission to hide their actions from the very people whom they are supposed to govern is not following a strategy that will work for any length of time.
It brings to mind a favorite Bible verse of mine. John 3:20:
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
There is a lot of sunshine that falls on Raymond's Gut and as soon as we get it focused, I suspect these folks will not be able to take the heat or the light.