Beach Nourishment – both sides of the story

When we stumbled upon the pipe yesterday, we had no idea what manner of material it might convey.

This morning I walked the two blocks to the beach barefoot with my sturdy umbrella turned against an 18-mile-an-hour wind. As I approached the easement, I noticed a wildly-flapping, red “No Swimming” flag.

The tide had come in and was tearing at the dunes with exhilarating fury. I turned my back against the wind and began to walk. Realizing I would have to face into it on my return, I turned to walk the other way. I opened my umbrella and felt it wrench from my grasp.

Yeah, no. This was not happening. I fought my way back through the stinging rain, umbrella useless at my side, the ocean boiling on my right—a colossal cursed cauldron. Tomorrow is another day.

Bob and I are drawn to the shore in search of restoration. Even folks who didn’t grow up on a coast or island seek solace from sand and surf. But beachside relaxation implies beaches, and beaches are built of sand.

It’s no secret that our shorelines are eroding. In some places, there are  only a few feet of sand between high tide and the real estate. Fortunately, engineers have stepped in to fix the problem using pipelines and dredgers.

When we stumbled upon the pipe yesterday, we had no idea what manner of material it might convey. Come to find out, it is a mover of sand and had been brought to Kitty Hawk in July to begin their renourishing project.

Aerial footage of the operation.

I like to think of beach nourishment as basic hygiene, akin to toenail clipping and leaf raking. The process not only preserves our vacation playgrounds but it keeps roads and buildings from getting sucked into the Atlantic.

Alarming signs like these are a small price to pay for coastline conservation.

I’m glad someone wrote “Keep Off Pipe” on a structure that invites interaction. When I was growing up on City Island, someone—perhaps my father—brought home an old hot water tank. We kids and all our friends never tired of rolling around on that thing, barefoot, like circus seals.

The pipe is much larger than it appears, so I took this photo for scale.

Bob, testing out his new lens, was as intrigued as I was.

He was especially interested in the inner workings. He has, after all, quite a lot of experience moving large quantities of liquids around.

We both got a Pac-Man vibe from this view.

Bob and I look forward to better weather later this week. But despite the threat of hurricanes, we prefer off-season fall. The water is too cold in spring and the sand too crowded in summer.

Some friends are coming in this afternoon, and our Air BnB host has provided ample indoor game opportunities. We’ll eat, drink, and tell stories around the game’s table while the wind sandblasts the shore break. But not to worry, beach nourishment is coming soon.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

Don't be shy - leave a comment!