Month: October 2016

Are you Ready?

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Preparedness is the cure for worry.  Preparedness is easier said than done.  What preparedness means is up for debate only by those that aren’t keen to be ready for anything and not debatable at all for those with zeal.

My father always taught me to start early, never be late, and to always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  He was not a pessimist, he was a realist, and he was never late for anything.

I learned to always make sure I am there on time, which meant to always be there early.  Why?  Well, you just never know when you’ll “have a flat tire”.  How long does it take to change a tire?  Just long enough that if I leave now, I will still have time to change a tire and be on time!

My father also taught me that preparedness means that you will hardly need a thing you don’t already have, but you’ll be able to offer a lot.  I have an updated first aid kit in the back of my car that could probably supply a small hospital.  Laugh if you will, but it has come in handy more times than I can recall and don’t even get me started on a dive plan – my rescue diver instructor made sure there was never any doubt in those abilities.

Today, all this talk about being prepared for the nearby Hurricane (although very bipolar indeed), got me thinking about preparedness, complacence, and marine debris (of course).  As we work to frantically secure a “Hurricane Kit” it is easy to forget somethings on the list of to-dos, so here are some tidbits to consider (regardless of the uncertainty of landfall):

  • Don’t be complacent!  We haven’t had a bad storm in eastern NC in a very long time.  It is easy to forget how bad it can be.  Having lived here my entire life, I can tell you IT CAN BE BAD – deadly even.  Don’t have a complete meltdown – it will be alright, but be prepared and let this be an exercise to stay prepared now and for future storms.
  • Don’t forget the boat. Best case scenario is to pull it out of the water.  Worst is to do the best you can to secure it.  Keep a copy of your insurance paperwork handy.  Go check out your lines, add more lines, talk to the marina, and visit your vessel as soon as you can after the storm.  Removing derelict vessels is EXPENSIVE and you are very much liable if your boat lines break and your boat runs aground across the waterway.
  • Secure any fishing gear you may have outside or at a working shoreline.  That stuff is expensive and can be brutal for wildlife and our economy if it gets where it doesn’t need to be.
  • Bring all those toys, Halloween and Fall decorations inside. Stuff blows around even on a normal blustery day.  During a significant storm these things can become dangerous, potentially deadly, and they may end up in a creek headed towards the ocean (NOT COOL).
  • Tie down or properly secure all that random lawn furniture – bring it inside if you need to.  Get it away from windows and doors!
  • Board up windows and glass doors if you can.  I’ve seen stuff thrown threw windows during relatively small tropical storms.  Why chance it if you have the boards laying around anyway.
  • Gather all those important documents and put them in waterproof containers or bags – bring them with you if you plan to evacuate.
  • Get your meds ready to go if you evacuate and if not, make sure you have enough on hand if the stores are closed for a week or so.
  • Have enough water and canned food.  Don’t overdo it though on the bread and no one needs to buy excessive amounts of milk (not sure why that is a thing).  If the fridge goes down…  Canned soups that don’t need to be heated are amazing and they have a long shelf life so you can keep them for later if you don’t use them while the power is out.  Drag out that camp stove – it may or may not come in handy, but having it on hand will be better than searching for it with a flashlight.
  • Speaking of flashlights – those are handy and so are lanterns, candles, matches, and so forth.  Don’t forget the batteries (size does matter – get the right size)
  • Water is good.  You probably have one of those igloo type water cooler things right?  Okay cool then you probably don’t need to go out and buy more plastic containers filled with water.  You can refill all those random water bottles you have from events.  One gallon per person per day is recommended and some for pets too…
  • Don’t forget the fur babies – make sure your animal friends are safe.  They are family too.  Keep a check out for shelters that take animals just in case.  If you evacuate, google up the hotels that allow animals – there are plenty out there these days.  Oh, and airbnb too.  Have pet food available and their fav treats – storms are extremely stressful for animals.
  • Move furniture away from windows.
  • Gas up your vehicle.  If the power is out for a few days, you wont be able to fuel up until the power goes back on at the pump..  Have gas for your chainsaw and helpful equipment.
  • Take the trash out to a drop center way in advance and don’t leave trash cans or recycle bins outside during the storm.
  • Got solar power?  Even a small solar charger can be a great asset if you don’t have power for a bit.  I adore my spor!
  • Charge those phones.  Keep them charged during the storm.  If the power goes out, don’t use that time to have a long FB or twitter session – stay off the phone and save the power for emergencies.
  • A battery powered radio is awesome!
  • Duck Tape!  Why wouldn’t you have a supply of this anyway – it practically cures cancer there are so many uses.
  • Plastic garbage bags are handy for storms for a few reasons. It is wet during storms.
  • Rain Gear – speaking of storms being wet.
  • Manual Can opener – if the power goes out…
  • Heavy gloves in case you have to handle broken glass
  • First Aid kit (make sure it is up to date and full)
  • Clean out enough space in the garage for at least one vehicle and put it in there.  If you are a two car household and plan to evacuate and leave one, leave it in the garage.  If you plan to stay, put one car in the garage.
  • If you stay, sleep in a part of the house that has no or little chance of being nailed by falling trees.
  • Cooler full of ice.
  • Track the storm and all.  Tracks and forecasts change every five seconds or so.

Be safe, hope for the best and prepare for the worst!  Keep an eye on the forecast – maybe go surfing if the waves are decent.


Free Gift with Purchase

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Doing a coastal cleanup is like making a purchase of time for the future. Your purchasing time that future generations have to enjoy a less polluted coastal environment.  Your purchasing the time we all have considering we all rely on the sea to sustain life as we know it.  You’re making that purchase with your own time and there are more benefits than you’ll probably ever know.

Why does one spend so much time picking up trash on the beach?  You get what you give!

Years of collecting bits of foam, cigarette butts, bottles, and random plastic wrappers have provided a certain bias or perception of humanity that is hardly pleasant and sometimes down right depressing.  At the same time, it rewards with the most amazing benefit of becoming an accidental coastal naturalist.  The gifts that the sea brings to shore are an added bonus, not to mention the other rewards of enjoying a peaceful oasis of sights, sounds, and smells and the biggie: an improved ecosystem, but we all know litter is bad for us all and cleaning it up only makes sense.

Becoming a seaside naturalist started out as a simple curiosity about what types of shells I was finding during cleanups and has grown into an almost spiritual ritual.  It is more than just being a “beachcomber”.  Cleaning up debris along the shore while exploring is inclusive and holistic.  It is why I believe that finding seaside ground scores like beautiful shells and sea beans are a gift from the sea – like a very personal thank you letter.  I often think that it also makes the perception of humanity a little easier to swallow especially on days that it is apparent that our marine debris problem is growing.

Coastal curiosity just comes naturally and soon you find yourself noticing year after year when specific shells are more abundant.  I have noticed myself thinking about seasons, swell direction, upwellings, wind, storms, and what washes up with all things considered.  Not only shells and other beautiful finds, but the not-so-amazing finds too, like what seaweeds attract bits of foam or how some plastics gather with other “like” plastics in the seaweeds. In the summer, I find more cigarette butts and consumer litter that is fairly new.  In the fall, I find a lot of surf fishing tackle and bait containers, and in the winter I see more plastic that has been weathered by the sea and debris with barnacle growth.

The sea is so vast and fascinating that one can’t help but wonder how long an item has been at sea or where it originally came from when it washes up on shore.  Maybe that is why explorers years ago were inspired by what they found at the water’s edge.  For me, that same seaside wonder inspires peace and resolve.

I encourage anyone to get out there, take part in the global endeavor to rid our seas of debris, make an effort to purchase time for future generations, and while you’re out there, keep a look out for your gift from the sea.  I promise it’s better than anything you will get from a department store purchase.  You’ll know it’s for you, when you see it or when you feel it.  It is an instant thought of “the sea sent this for me”.  Whether your gift is a shell, fossilized shark’s tooth, stillness, or a wave you catch and ride to shore, I hope you earned it and I wish you many more.  You get what you give, pass it on.

bear island trash

conch 2