The Kayak Chronicles ©

by Darren Caffery


Paddling the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Bodie Island & Pamlico Sound

Tuesday October 1, 2002


The original plan was to paddle the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge today however the marine forecast predicted a scorcher of a day (mid 90's) with high humidity and nothing more than a mild breeze. Since the Pea Island area is very shallow and there are no sandy beaches or good swimming areas there, we agreed to change the paddle to Bodie (pronounced 'body') Island near the Oregon Inlet, just north of Pea Island and the Oregon Inlet Bridge. In this area, I also expected to see some dolphin. Al bailed out on this paddle, deciding to shoot some film and explore  the barrier island instead.


Tom, Lenny & Marylou and I launched from the Oregon Inlet Marina ramp at about 10 am into the Pamlico Sound.  The vast sound was a mirror with only an occasional ripple from a passing boat wake. There sun was shining bright and it was already about 87 degrees.  There was not even a mild breeze at this point and so we set a course for the more open part of the sound, hoping to catch any breeze that mother nature could send our way. On our paddle out into the sound, we had the backdrop of the huge Oregon Inlet Bridge to the east and a great selection of small islands with white sandy beaches to the west. After only a few miles, and passing a few snowy egrets and many brown pelicans, we landed on a small island for a dip to cool off from the intense sun and heat.  We swam, explored the island a bit and shot some post-card like pictures of the Bodie Island lighthouse from atop a very large dune which offered a panoramic view of the area.



 After the short break, we paddled back into the sound into areas where dolphin typically are spotted in the channel.  Within a few minutes we heard Lenny call “Dolphin ahead!” and the we all got a glimpse of a small pod dolphin, jumping out of the water in unison on their way back out of the channel and inlet. I had difficulty capturing their image on the digital camera as the camera would not snap the shot fast enough and I always ended up with a picture of a small splash where they just submerged. We continued paddling and soon approached an island of brown pelicans who departed in masses to the air and water as we got near. One of the pelicans appeared to have a broken wing which may have been tangled in netting or fishing line of some sort so it struggled to get away from us.  We kept our distance and paddled away from it as not to scare it but Marylou was soon on her cell phone, attempting to get phone numbers for a bird rescue.  After making quite a few phone calls and then calling the state department of fish and game and getting the bureaucratic runaround we encouraged Marylou to abort the rescue effort.  “Sharks have to eat too” Lenny and I joked. I thought 20-30 minutes of phone calls characterized a very noble effort.



As we continued our tour of the Pamlico Sound, Marylou and Len took another break after a few miles as I internally debated a circumnavigational sprint to another island in the distance. After checking the mileage on my GPS map and the current time, I decided against the circumnavigation but Tom and I sprinted about 1.5 miles out to the island before returning to round up Marylou and Len for our 3.5 mile return trip to the take out.

We landed at Oregon Inlet shortly after 5 pm and 14 miles of paddling and island hopping. It was another great day on the water in the OBX.

We caught up with Al later that evening at the motel and we all headed over to Mulligans Raw Bar & Grille in Kill Devil Hills for dinner and drinks and to discuss the remaining logistics of our Portsmouth Island camping trip for the next day.  After dinner, we stopped at the local Food Lion chain to pick up provisions for our camping trip.  Since we would need to be up at around 4-4:30 am the next day, I tried to make it an early night by “powershopping” in high speed. As Lenny and Marylou debated in the aisles about whether or not to buy Spam or beef stroganoff, Tom, Al and I paid for our food stuff then rushed off to the motel to get started on our sleep.


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