Whether you like it or not, cold weather and water are heading our way (I know….BOOO). With the change in conditions, it’s really easy just to put on some sweatpants, cozy up on the couch, binge watch EVERYTHING, and let your fitness and connection to the outdoors slip away.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Even though it’s not 85 degrees and gorgeous, you can still enjoy the physical and mental health advantages of spending time outdoors. You just need to BE PREPARED. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for some time outdoors in winter on the North Carolina coast.
Hurricanes, tropical storms, tropical depressions, tropical remnants.....they are all part of life here on the coast. Whether you've just moved here or you've been here forever, you need to be prepared but you can do it in a way that doesn't have others shaking their head at you. Here are some tips:
1. First things first, yes, you need a emergency pack. Canned/nonperishable food (make sure you have an opener), water, batteries, a radio, and more, packed in a way that you can take it with you if you need to leave your home. You should also make sure to have cash and a full tank of gas.
2. You do not need milk sandwiches. Whenever one of these storms even starts to head our way, all of the milk and bread just disappears. If it's a legit storm, you won't have power, thus no refrigeration, so why are you buying milk?
3. You need to decide what you are going to do BEFORE the storm gets here. Here's an easy chart to go by:
-Tropical Depression- Get ready to go to work in the rain. A non event.
-Tropical Storm- Go buy beer and decide what show that you are going to binge watch for the hours of rain. Maybe invite some friends over since you may have the day off. You may have some yard work to do the next day. This is no big deal.
-Category 1- See Tropical Storm except way more yard work. You may want to think about having a big cookout before it gets here, too, so you can empty out the freezer for when you possibly lose power for a day or two. All bets are off if the storm stalls over us and drops 3 feet of rain like Florence did.
-Category 2- OK, now you can start getting a little nervous. Be prepared to have no power for a few days (a generator may be a good idea but you need to have bought it WAY before the storm gets here). Don't expect to go to the grocery store because it will be like Lord of the Flies. The people who didn't prepare will be trying to fight you for that bottle of water. This is where the cash comes in because most places will only be accepting cash. Maybe think about evacuating so you don't have to deal with any of this.
-Category 3 or higher- You need to leave. The storm will be bad enough and the aftermath will not be fun at all. You need to run SOUTHWEST because the storms always turn north and then east when they hit. Our favorite hurricane vacation stop is Atlanta.
Just know that the media LOVES when these storms come around because their website clicks go through the roof. They are going to play this thing up and go "wall to wall" coverage. Stay calm, be prepared, and, usually, these things are no big deal.
If you are new to boating, you may not believe that the boat ramp can actually be a very stressful place, especially on a summer weekend. There’s a ton of people trying to get their boat in the water at the same time, the kids are in the back screaming, and the precious few parking spots are disappearing right in front of your eyes.
Fights CAN and DO break out at the boat ramp! Sounds like a terrible way to start a day, right? Fear not, there is a way to stay out of going to fisticuffs with someone who’s not handling the pressure well! It’s Boat Ramp Etiquette.
Boat Ramp Etiquette is pretty simple, and effective, if you just follow these simple rules:
1. Do not jump in line
This seems pretty simple. Our ability to stand in lines in our society is really what separates us from the animals. Even if you don’t like what someone ahead of you is doing, even if you think you could do things faster……don’t jump the line. That is a recipe for things to get heated.
2. Do not hold parking spots
So you are 10th in line and you only count 5 parking spots left in the lot. You decide to push your wife or kid out to go stand in the spot. Bad idea. I’ve seen this go sideways so many times. If you stay in the line, and you are good at counting, you should have a spot available once your boat is floating. Don’t risk the safety of your loved ones.
3. Don’t block the ramp with your boat
This one isn’t as big of a deal at a ramp with multiple ramps but at a one ramp park, like Trails End Park in Wilmington, it can grind everything to a halt. Get your boat in the water quickly. Hopefully, you’ve taught someone on your boat how to pull back from the ramp and idle (and then gently pull up to pick you up when you get back from parking). If you haven’t done that, or you are by yourself, at least be on a trot back from the truck. Your fellow boat ramp warriors will feel the respect.
4. If your boat won’t start, MOVE
If your boat, trailer, and truck are blocking the ramp, that is NOT the time to crack open the cowling and start diagnosing. If it won’t crank after a couple of minutes, pull it up out of the way and then you can go to work on it. You should always see if your motor will crank before even leaving to head to the ramp.
5. Know how to back a trailer before heading to the ramp
It’s OK if you don’t know how to back your new boat trailer. No one is born with trailer backing abilities….it takes practice! A Saturday in July is not that time to practice, though. Find a terrible weather day, or a day in the off season, to head to the ramp and practice over and over. Not knowing how to back your trailer on a busy day can lead to you getting nervous and in a hurry. Getting in a hurry can lead to you doing something stupid that will mess up your boat, trailer, or someone else.
6. Be Nice!
This one is the rule that could fix so many problems at our ramps. Just be nice! It’s not hard.
There are some other more nuanced parts of this but this should keep you out of a dustup. New to boating? Our New Boater Training classes might be for you. Let’s navigate the boat ramp together!
So, you've never seen yourself as an "outdoorsy" person? Maybe the extent of your outdoor experience is going to the beach. But now you live in the beautiful place, with so much to explore and you want to get out there. Where do you start?
Here are some easy options for easing into a new outdoorsy lifestyle:
1. Try out some easy camping!
You don't have to backpack into the wilderness, or kayak to an uninhabited island, to get a taste of camping. Try one of our nearby, beautiful state parks! Carolina Beach State Park, Lake Waccamaw State Park, and Jones Lake State Park are all within an hour drive from Wilmington. Each one of these allow you to park right next to your campsite, use a bathhouse (which will make you feel more at home), and have hiking trails and other attractions close by to your tent.
Don't have camping equipment? You can rent from places like lowergear.com or you can even give us a call. We could work out a way for you to maybe use some of our equipment.
2. Book a GUIDED outdoor excursion!
A guided outdoor excursion, such as a kayak excursion here on the coast, is the best way to learn the easiest and safest way to explore our area! You can check out all of our adventures at capefearadventurecompany.com/adventures . If you are heading up to the mountains, check out NC Outdoor Adventures or Natahala Outdoor Center.
3. Just go for a hike!
Does all of that sound like a lot? Just go for a hike! We've got some great trails right here in the Wilmington area, that are perfect for a beginner. The Sugarloaf trail at Carolina Beach State Park, the Basin Trail at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, and the Abbey Nature Preserve at Poplar Grove Plantation are all beautiful, easy trails to get you out exploring the outdoors!
Any questions? We are glad to talk it through with you so give us a call or shoot us an email!