Three things define spring by the water along the Crystal Coast, low water, cold water, and whipped up water chased from every direction by the wind. The picture above is of Bogue Sound on a day when boating water would have been challenging to find in many places outside the main channels.
It is hard to say which month, March or April, might be the cruelest month of spring. I think many boaters along the Southern Outer Banks would agree that both can be challenging. The air temperature often feels like we should be out on the water. The beautiful blues of the water are tempting but experience teaches us that those lovely shades of blue are hiding very cold water.
Also the water seems to stay calm only for brief moments. Then sometimes, as it has done in the last few days, the water just disappears, and you wonder what happened to all those predictions of rising sea levels. High tide looks a lot like low tide. About the time my thoughts wander to my kayak which could easily handle the low water levels, the wind starts blowing and reminds of how cold the water actually is.
Boating on the coast is often a grab the moment kind of endeavor, and it is very hard to do that in March or April. I have enjoyed trips in March that erase some memories of the cold boat rides that we usually face in spring but they are rare. What I really want is to go out and just enjoy the warm Carolina sun on my back and maybe try a little early fishing even if I do not catch anything. Life has taught me that fish are optional even during the best fall fishing months.
I would love to catch a fish or two while soaking up the sun, but I am reconciled to taking this spring one step at a time. In 2009 we waited until April 24 before we got a real day on the water. The weather was even cooler in 2010, and it was June 1 before we got a really nice day on the water. Spring of 2013 had its own challenges. However in 2015, we managed to get on the water on April 12.
March can tease us with an hour or so on the water and even some great mid-March weather, but we have seen a frost and lots of wind including even some small waves driven into our very protected cove.
I guess until our water returns and the winds slack off, thinking about some past great beach walks will just have to do with help from the occasional trip out into the river with the skiff until the water warms enough for some kayaking.
We are on the spring roller coaster and while this year's winter has not been as bad as some past winters, I will still anxiously await any warmth and a break in the winds. Our weather is variable but generally nice. However, it can change very quickly especially once the water starts warming. That can be good if it warms up just enough to open the windows. Sometimes I have waded in the surf at the end of March. If the weather warms too fast, we miss that great part of spring after all the pollen is gone when we can sleep with our windows open.