Deep thoughts (and photos) by M. Scott Smith

Photos of the Day: OBX 2007 🔗

I recently returned from a trip to North Carolina's Outer Banks. During the trip, I spent quite a bit of time on the water with my trusty kayak. Some shots from the trip follow. These shots were all taken within a few miles of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, on the sound side.

Shortly after I took the following photo, I was attacked by a dog. In my kayak. I'm not kidding. I had to flee.

This was some murky water, and it kept getting narrower, and narrower... My kayak is nearly 15 feet long. I had to do some backwards paddling to get out of this jam.

A view of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse few visitors get to see. Starting at the Whalehead Club, you must paddle a distance away from the lighthouse through the choppy open sound, only to return through a mazelike series of passages that can become too shallow to paddle when the wind shifts water around in the sound. Although it looks like the lighthouse has been lit in this picture, it's really the sun reflecting off the lighthouse lens. I was at the perfect angle at the perfect time to see this effect.

The sun is going...



With the setting sun pulling all the light from the sky, I had an hour or two of night paddling in front of me. Glad I used the bug repellant.

Back on the dock, I set up the tripod and took some long exposures. It may look like the sun is still setting, but in reality, it was pitch dark and I couldn't see without a flashlight. This photo is a 30-second exposure taken by my Nikon D200.

Another 30 second exposure. You can see Venus (I think) and a couple of stars in the sky.

That's me, with a flashlight, lifting up the kayak as the camera captures 30 seconds of light.

Me walking along the dock making sure I didn't forget anything.

The night I took these pictures, the sound was relatively calm, although the unsheltered, open sound became a bit wavy as the wind picked up after nightfall. That made for an exciting paddle back in the dark. (I'm not sure what I would do if I capsized in the dark.) Earlier in the day, and for the first time on the trip, the wind seemed to disappear completely, allowing me to paddle farther than I normally do (and giving me a false sense of security).

During trips on previous days, the wind was steady and strong. This makes wide open stretches of the sound quite turbulent, and paddling through these strong waves and currents is an adventure. I've learned to trust the stability of my kayak, although it takes constant paddling and adjustments to stay upright as big waves converge from multiple directions. It can be hard not to feel a sense of panic as you see a big wave barreling towards you. It drives you to search for the leeward side of an island or calmer inlets to explore.

Although I snapped some nice photos, the main goal of these paddling trips was to make audio nature recordings. This presented its own set of challenges, not the least of which was keeping delicate and expensive recording gear dry, without tipping over the kayak. I captured some great recordings and hope to edit them into a "Sounds of the Sound" compilation.

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