Bald Head Island Circumnavigation
Article by Katie Moore.
Two weeks ago Jeoffrey , co-owner of Coastal Urge, called me and asked if I wanted to circumnavigate Bald Head Island. To his knowledge, he said no one had ever paddled around the entire island before. I was immediately interested because I thought it would be a nice distance to paddle, the scenery would be beautiful and it would be a great opportunity to paddle new water. It was all that and more! It turned out to be quite the adventure as the whole day was plagued with challenges. The day started out at 4:30 am at Middle Sound Marina. My old man and I started the engines on his 1970 Bertram and headed to Dockside to pick up Tyler and two of the film crew. Once we picked them up, only one engine would start forcing us to travel on one engine down the Intracoastal Waterway, turning our 45 minute cruise in to a 3 hour trip. Finally arriving at the BHI harbor at 9:30 am, and we quickly began our paddle because we were 3 hours behind schedule and now had a falling tide. Tyler, Jeoffrey, Will, and I left the harbor and headed for the creeks with our escort boat and film crew following. Because of low tides, we were constantly dodging sandbars and searching for deeper water for the boat. Once we made it to the landing point at the back of the creek where we planned the cross over to the ocean, we were faced with our first major challenge. At high tide, the crossing is very easy, pull right up to sand and walk across. But since we were an hour from dead low tide, we were facing 100 yards of knee deep muck and oysters to our right or 200 yards of marsh flat and fewer oysters to the left. We parted with our escort boat and opted for marsh flat route using our boards and paddles as crutches to cross over the deep muck and sharp oysters.
An hour later, we finally made it to the ocean to be greeted by large roaring surf. Two hurricanes out in the Atlantic were churning up large surf, again, making our excursion more challenging. On the beach, we stopped to wash the mud off ourselves and our boards, and then we all began to make our attempts to get out into open water. Picking and choosing the right times to challenge the waves, we all made it out. Very happy to have survived and to finally have deeper water and the winds behind us, we headed around East Beach. We were making good time and putting some distance behind us. When we approached Frying Pan Shoals, all we could see were breakers. Large surf and low tide were making the crossing very difficult. There was no way to paddle around the waves because they extend on for miles out into ocean and walking around on the beach wasn’t an option. Tyler and I were the first to approach the first set of swells. Again, picking and choosing just the right time, we were able to slip through but not without getting wet. We watched as Will and Jeoffrey as they also made their attempt though the shoals. We all headed on. Now paddling along South Beach, we were faced with different wind conditions and had to paddle hard on our right.
As we approached our next set of shoals, a driving rain storm blew in, raining so hard it was hard to see the island and each other. Now drenched, tired and hungry, we head in to final leg of our excursion. Slow to approach, trying to judge a good spot, Tyler and I were caught in the whitewater of a breaking wave. I was knocked over almost losing all my gear. Quickly jumping back on the board, Tyler and I made it through and Jeoffrey and Will followed through behind us. Finally meeting back up with our escort boat that was unable to make it through shoals, breakers and shallow water, we turned and paddled into 15-20 mph head winds. Digging deep, paddling hard, we eventually all staggered safely into harbor, completing the journey.
Movie Coming Soon.
Wilmington, NC | Bald Head Island, NC