“You'd be surprised by what emotion makes people do." -- Brit Bennett, "The Vanishing Half"

Friday, September 23, 2022

Close Call at the Beach

      This time of year my wife B and I often take a trip to Cape Cod. We love it there -- the seafood restaurants, the lobsters and clam chowder, the quaint towns along the shore, even the broad New England accents.

      One problem: fall comes early to Massachusetts. The days are brisk; the nights are chilly; the Atlantic waters . . . well, the north Atlantic waters never get very warm. New Englanders think 68-degree water is warm.

     So instead, this year we decided to head to South Carolina. Of course we have grandchildren there. We usually spend February in Charleston for that very reason. But now we decided: let's go when it's still warm out, when we can go to the beach and actually swim in the water. I looked it up. The surf temperature in September hovers around 80 degrees.

     So we booked ten days at the end of September. It was only after we made the booking -- non-refundable of course -- that we realized September is the height of the hurricane season. And thanks at least in part to global warming, hurricanes are getting more and more violent.

     I spent all of August and early September glued to the hurricane forecasts. Thankfully, this season has brought a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic.

     So we got here and checked into our airbnb one block off the beach. The very first day found us down on the sand, basking in the sun and frolicking in the waves. The water was beautiful!

     Then we heard about Fiona, lashing Puerto Rico and headed . . . our way? No, we were lucky. It was turning east, toward Bermuda, and then up north to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. 

     But we were warned that the hurricane would affect our coastline, sending 6 and 7 foot waves crashing onto the shore and bringing dangerous rip currents to the beaches. 

     By Wednesday the surf seemed rougher than normal. Small craft warnings went up. On Thursday and Friday we had bright sunny skies, temperatures in 70s and 80s, but those big, powerful waves came rolling in. They were big enough that they broke well before they got to shore -- sometimes gathering up again into smaller but still powerful waves and breaking again onto the sand. The undertow was strong enough to knock us off our feet if we weren't prepared.

     The surfers were still out. But we stayed close to shore, not challenging the waves, but content to dip into the swells as they tumbled over us and washed up to the beach.

     I feel bad for the Puerto Ricans, still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017, who bore the brunt of this hurricane. Puerto Rico lost power, suffered from devastating floods and significant wind damage. But we here on the East Coast have been spared.

      Now I hear that there's a tropical depression forming in the Caribbean. It could be named a hurricane in a few days and possibly track up through Florida and the East Coast.

     We're scheduled to be in South Carolina until Friday, Sept. 30. I hope we stay lucky.

     Here's what the breakers looked like from our beach on Friday afternoon (taken with my phone) . . . 


13 comments:

Dorothy Sander said...

I love it! Having spent my childhood swimming in the Maine oceans and now residing in North Carolina, I can totally relate to your experiences. Love your writing style and happy to discover a fellow writing boomer!

gigi-hawaii said...

That kind of surf is nothing compared to the surf in Hawaii, sometimes reaching 30 Feet. How's the food over there? Are you eating Crab Cakes? Enjoy your vacation.

Arkansas Patti said...

Sure hope all the hurricanes don't chase you away and you get to enjoy your splashing in the warm surf. This time of year is why I left Florida for Arkansas.

DJan said...

I'm hoping Ian (the now named storm) doesn't mess up your trip too much. It's looking like it could go many different ways from today. Fingers crossed!

ApacheDug said...

Sounds like a nice getaway Tom, even if it is during a tricky season. I'll be watching the weather and thinking of you this week! 🙂

Tom said...

Dorothy, Welcome. I've been to Maine several times, but never in the water. Gigi, on the menu here is shrimp, shrimp and more shrimp. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to shrimp! I've had snapper, grouper and, er, pizza.

Ed said...

For ten years we held a family reunion on the Florida Gulf coast and never thought a thing about hurricanes. But it was all about timing. We usually met in December, just outside of hurricane season.

Three years ago I made my first trip to New England and had my first bowls of clam chowder, lobster bisque and my first lobster roll. I still dream about all three things. Biting into them was like waking up and experiencing something wonderful for the very first time. I can't wait to get back out there where I can park myself on a coast and eat those things for three meals a day for a long while.

Wisewebwoman said...

I was spared on the east side of the island but the west was devastated. Houses swept out to sea and one with a resident. Rescue are still trying to find her. The waves were frightening.
Glad you are safe Tom and PR breaks my heart. Privatising their power was a terrible mistake.

XO
WWW

Rian said...

Tom, your airbnb on the beach sounds wonderful. I can see why weather would be an issue this time of year, but you seem to be doing OK so far. Hope it continues. I spent one summer on the east coast of Maine (Damariscotta and Hog Island) and loved it... but have never been to the South Carolina coast.

Celia said...

Glad the weather has been kind-ish to you. Always good to get out on the beach especially with the grandkids. On the Washington Coast we pretty much take a sweater and a raincoat no matter what time of year. Although with climate change the sweater is more often optional. Poor Puerto Rico, I'm so grateful I was born in WA state. Fickle Finger of Fate.

Bob Lowry said...

One of our daughters just landed in Halifax after Fiona made a mess of things. Our other daughter and her family are scheduled to go on a cruise from Port Canaveral, east of Orlando, on Friday. Hurricane Ian looks likely to ruin that trip.

Climate change has increased the severity and frequency of major storms in the oceans. I am not sure there are many times of the year when that won't become a common occurrence. The concept of hurricane season may expand to 8 or 9 months a year.

Tom said...

Bob, thanks for commenting. Too bad about your daughters. I agree, climate change is going to make life more difficult for all of us . . . but at least you're safe from hurricanes in Arizona!

Kay said...

I'm glad your trip wasn't too impacted by Hurricane Ian. What a horrible time for Floridians. I worry about Hawaii too. We are always watchful of the next hurricane.