Concern, misery, inconvenience and then elation.
A party of six Mooresville-area anglers experienced all of it last week during an annual surf fishing trip to Hatteras Island that dates back decades.
Although superstorm Sandy was forecast to hit the N.C. Coast as it swept north, the men decided to go ahead with plans that had been months in the making.
We felt Sandy was just going to skirt the coast well offshore, and our long-time home rental agent in Hatteras Village encouraged that thinking, said one member of the party, Kelly Eury of Mt. Mourne.
But by the time the group reached the big Bonner Bridge spanning Oregon Inlet en route to Hatteras Island, Sandy was smashing the area with winds of nearly 80 mph and exceedingly heavy rain.
Problems arose almost immediately.
The roof on our rental house, which amounts to a mansion, began leaking, said Joe Burden of Mooresville, who has planned the groups annual outing for years. Water was leaking even from the electrical outlets and smoke detectors. Cable and phone service went out, but thankfully we kept power.
Then, the area around Hatteras Village began flooding from the Pamlico Sound side. We knew we had to get our vehicles to higher ground. By cell phone, a local source told us to take them to the ferry docks, the highest point around the village. However, the water quickly became too deep for us to get there. We went back to the house and parked about a third of the way up the dunes, which is against the rules, hoping the Park Service officers would understand.
None happened to patrol that area during this period.
From Sunday through Wednesday we hunkered down, hoping for the best, continued Burden. We had no idea what was happening elsewhere, like up the coast in New Jersey and New York. Compared to that, I guess we had it pretty good.
Finally, on Thursday, the flooding had receded enough for the group to reach Buxton and venture along the beach toward storied Cape Point. About a mile south of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse they saw a promising-looking slough and stopped to fish.
Friends had told them that fishing action in the wake of a storm often proved to be sensational.
And it was.
We found puppy drum chewing the end off the island, as the local fishermen like to say, Eury said. We began catching them immediately, and often had two or three at a time hooked. They were hitting (biting) anything cut bait that was almost a week old, frozen cigar minnows, Gulp! lures. It was wild and fun!
The count was 158 puppy drum among the party that also included John and Johnny Crowe, Bobby Wright and Bill Hackney.
To get home the anglers had to wait for hours to get on the emergency Rodanthe-Stumpy Point ferry.
What normally is about a 7-hour trip took 15 or so, said Burden. Ill never go into the teeth of a storm like that again, but neither will I ever forget that one fabulous day of fishing.
Hatteras, Ocracoke reopen
Two of the most popular Outer Banks islands, Hatteras and Ocracoke, are now reopened to visitors after being off limits for several days in the wake of superstorm Sandy, which left infrastructure damage.
Access is by ferry only.
Information: 252-475-5655, or www.darecountyem.com.