A comment to my previous post, How to review the reviewer, prompted me to compose this post with some comments on the weather and the area.
We have lived in a maritime climate both in Canada and here in North Carolina. There are similarities.
I post a lot of blue sky pictures, but we do get some not so sunny weather.
This cloudy day shot was snapped on April 14 going across the bridge to Emerald Isle. This morning the skies have cleared by 10 AM.
What we have learned about living along the coast is that maritime climates are very complex. How far you are from the coast, what kind of water you are on, how sheltered you are, and what direction your home faces are all critical elements that often get ignored. We were sort of oblivious to them when we picked our current home, but somehow we lucked out.
My first maritime experience was in St. Croix Cove, Nova Scotia on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia is one of the foggier places on earth. A summer ago there were places in Nova Scotia that had 85 days of fog. That's a lot of fog.
However, there were also places that had very little fog. When we were living on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, we often found that we could not start haying because we were covered with a fog bank. Two miles inland, it would be hot and sunny. We learned our lesson, and we went on to farm in central New Brunswick which actually had better weather because it had less of a maritime influence.
Things are a little different here on the Carolina coast, but our friend from Beaufort who sparked this post had this to say about the weather in Beaufort.
i have to smile on reading this and some of his other comments. We have a much different view of the area's climate, and yet we live only twenty five miles from Beaufort. While we live on the water, we are almost surrounded by land. Beaufort is pretty well surrounded by water. I actually did not think a lot about all this before we chose where we are. It was more luck than good planning that we ended up in a spot that is warmer much of the year and has more reliable cooling breezes in August and September. The real reason for our location is that we got a lot more for our dollars where we are.
By some strange quirk, we also seem to miss some of the worst rain storms which cruise up the coast. Cedar Point and Cape Carteret can be swamped, and we are high and dry. It is surprising since we are only a couple of miles inland and the river where we are is two miles wide. A couple of years ago Beaufort got hit with 11 inches of rain in relatively short period. We had .75 inch. Over the long term it will average out, but right now we stay dry a fair amount of the time.
Having said that, this winter was a colder than normal winter down here. It is was by far the coldest that we have experienced. In January of 2007 we only had nineteen hours below freezing for the whole month. That same winter I had tomatoes ripening until late December. We also had eleven days in January when the high temperatures got above 70F.
We did see less than one half of inch of snow on our grass this winter. There was no snow on our driveway or on the roads here. What snow we saw this year is the first snow that we have seen in three winters. People tell us that it was the first seen in the area in six years. Other areas got more snow. We do not qualify as a snow belt.
Since our home is south facing with lots of windows, we do not use a lot of heat even in a winter like this past one. There is an area just behind our home which is sheltered and often is warmed by the sun into the seventies even when it much cooler outside.
On moving here, I quickly learned that life and weather over by the ocean is much different. By road we are about six or seven miles to the beach. It would be a little more than half of that if you could fly. In spite of the short distance, it is not unusual to see the temperature drop 10-15 degrees by the time you get to the beach during the day in winter and spring. I have recorded a number of funny moments when I felt comfortable wearing shorts near our home but ended up freezing when I got out of the car over on the beach.
While the beach gets almost continuous wind, we seem to get more nice breezes and miss some of the worst winds because we have walls of trees that slow the wind from some directions. Of course those winds still make our life less enjoyable because taking our Sundance skiff out in heavy winds is not something I want to do or which is fun.
Weather is weather, if it is too cold, wait a while, and it will soon be too warm. I have enjoyed living in places where 20F in January felt like a heat wave. Now when the temperature gets below sixty we act like we are going to freeze.
Going back and forth to the mountains in Virginia helps us keep a little perspective. The mountains are definitely colder in the winter, spring, and fall. In the summer the Va. mountains are warmer than we are on the coast.
Our perspective on the weather is helped by our not being in a town or having houses close around us. It is almost if the shape of the cleared area where our subdivision is and its position relative to the river enhances summer breezes. When the construction crew was doing our home, I can remember being told more than once that they were pleasantly surprised with how cool it stayed in the heat.
Of course that is all relative. It you are living in air conditioning turned down to 68F, and you expect our summer breezes to feel cool, you will feel disappointed. We even keep our air conditioning on 78F most of the time.
You also get used to the climate if you spent plenty of time out in it. I grew up in NC around Winston-Salem, NC. We did not even have an air conditioner until I was eight or nine years old. You live with what you have, and perhaps the weather always looks nicer some place else, but as I child I can only remember one or two nights of retreating to our air conditioned living room for a night's sleep.
Anytime you write about the weather and come close to bragging, you are likely to be humbled quickly. The day after I wrote the fog post, we had one of the three foggy days that we have seen since we moved here nearly three years ago. Not long after I proclaimed we rarely get snow, we saw our 1/2 inch of snow. Perhaps we will get whacked by a rainstorm of historic proportions this weekend. In which case I will not have to water the yard that is close to needing it right now.
I have been over in Beaufort for a couple of those August days when the heat and humidity are so bad that a three block walk looks impossible without the help of an air conditioned car. I have seen Swansboro that way once. There was no sea breeze.
Still I will take our area to any that I have seen. No area is perfect. Most places are what you make of them. Lots of people love living in the Seattle area. There not much sunshine up there. A standard present for attending a convention in Seattle is an umbrella.
We enjoyed living in New Brunswick for eleven years, but it was nice when we moved to Halifax, NS and the black fly bites on the kids necks could finally heal. There are different challenges here. The waters are shallow and take some skill to navigate, but the diversity of marine life is hard to beat in an area with at least three seasons. I am not a fan of California style weather where things stay much the same. California appeals to lots of folks but I would not want to be in San Jose tomorrow when the temperature hits 98.
Yet you cannot appreciate the heat without some cold. I could not feel the benefits of living where I do if I had not lived and worked in cities. We looked very hard at the Beaufort area, and I still enjoy visiting it. The reality was that we could not afford to live on the water in Beaufort. It turned out to a positive switch for us.
For far less than what it would have cost in Beaufort, we got a brand new home on water that is three feet deep and under ten minutes by boat from the Intracoastal. We can fish Bogue Inlet and up and down the beaches with little trouble once the spring winds die down.
Other times I fish in sheltered areas in my kayak or wander the beaches with a surf rod. Time has shown that our place in western Carteret is a better spot for us. Others will have different experiences.
There is a lot about buying a place that you never know until you have bought it and lived in it for a few years.
I am looking forward to the heat of the summer, but it can strain your body. I solve the heat problem in three ways. My first choice is a quick dip in the pool that it just across the cul de sac from our home. If I can make time, getting out on the water with my kayak or the skiff ends up being a cooling experience that also lets me relax.
However, there are some weeks when the waters in the river and swimming pool warm to the point that they are no longer cool. Then the only solution is jumping in the ocean and letting the cool ocean water hit the middle of my back. That never fails to cool me down. It is the magic spot on my body for releasing hit. Fortunately we are never more than ten minutes away from the beach so I do not suffer a lot from the few weeks of hot weather.
In the end weather is more about what you make of it than how hot, cold or wet it can be. It you are going to be on the east coast, Carteret County is not a bad place to be. You can find some great places on the water for reasonable prices. Those prices just might not be as reasonable in certain parts of Beaufort, but Beaufort has its charm.
I will venture that Beaufort has no lock on friendly people. I have found lots of those almost everywhere.