EMERALD ISLE — With Hurricane Dorian ambling up the coast toward North Carolina and evacuations underway, almost nobody at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier seemed in a hurry to go anywhere on a pretty Tuesday morning.
There was no long line of vehicles heading out of town on Highway 58; more seemed to be coming in.
Carl McLeod and his wife, Danica, who live in Cedar Point, were at the pier to look at the waves, which were building and full of surfers on the west side of the structure.
“Last year (for Hurricane Florence) we left and stayed one day, and came back after it was downgraded (to a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) and we were glad we did,” Mr. McLeod said. “At this point, I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”
Mr. McLeod said he was glad to have been home during the worst of Florence because it enabled him to protect his home better and avert the worst of the damage. He said he wasn’t worried much about Dorian, as long as it stayed on its current track and dwindled by the time it arrived along the Crystal Coast.
Ms. McLeod agreed, but expressed a little more anxiety, mostly about the possibility of the storm separating the couple from their daughter, who’s a student at East Carolina University in Greenville.
County officials have urged residents to prepare, and several towns issued mandatory evacuations, including Emerald Isle.
Doug Dougherty, who lives in the Peletier/Stella area, was hanging out watching the surfers, some of whom were longtime friends, including Roy “Dud” Brownlow, who is manager of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management office in Morehead City.
“I’m not a surfer anymore, I’ve had a few health problems,” Mr. Dougherty said between shouting at his friend. “Now I’m just a commentator. And I’m not going anywhere.”
Mr. Dougherty, 58, has been coming to the area since he was in diapers, when he lived in Goldsboro and his grandparents brought him down while his dad served in Vietnam.
He said he’s been through plenty of big storms, and from the look of things Thursday, he added, Dorian appears likely to be manageable by the time it arrives.
“I love this place,” he said of Emerald Isle and the pier. “I’m not worried about this one. I came here a long time ago and never left. The world came here.”
One of the surfers was Andrew Thayer of Long Island, N.Y., and the only place he was planning to go was the Outer Banks, not out of fear of Dorian, but out of appreciation for the waves.
He and three of his friends made the trip down from New York specifically to surf, and they plan on following the storm-driven swells home.
“We’ll probably leave Wednesday, because it’s going to get a bit nasty,” he said. “But we’ll just go on up the shore.”
The surfing at the pier was excellent, Mr. Thayer said, noting it was good to see non-surfers not in the water, as the red flags were flying on the beach because of the risk of rip currents and powerful waves driven by the hurricane.
In fact, as far as the eye could see east or west from the pier at 10 a.m., surfers were the only ones in the water over their ankles.
The town beach patrol passed by the pier twice in 45 minutes, remaining cautious and proactive in the wake off four drownings of the strand this spring.
The only person at the pier who said he was leaving Tuesday was Jacob Lawson of Pennsylvania.
“We’ve been here with some friends in Atlantic Beach for two weeks, and we’re heading out in a little while,” he said. “We stopped here because me and the wife and the kids wanted to watch some surfing. I’ve never really seen it except on television. I’d heard there always lots of them here.”
Mr. Lawson said he’s never been through a hurricane, but isn’t too worried about Dorian.
“We’re just leaving a couple of days early because we didn’t want to drive in bad weather,” he said.
The pier, which owner Mike Stanley repaired last winter after extensive damage from Hurricane Florence, will remain open until 10 a.m. Thursday, and the plan is to reopen Saturday.
There were only a couple of fishermen on the pier Tuesday morning, and one said he wasn’t expecting to catch anything, “just throwing out the line and enjoying the scenery.”
Elsewhere in town, the Food Lion and Publix grocery stores were crowded, but not jammed.
A clerk at Food Lion said Labor Day was very busy, but most of the people she talked to didn’t plan to leave unless the town, county or state made evacuation mandatory, which the town did later Tuesday.
John Stanton of Ohio, with a grocery cart laden with beer, snacks and soup at Food Lion, agreed with that.
“If they tell me to go, then I’ll go,” he said. “If they make it mandatory, then I’ll get worried that it’s going to get bad. But until that, I don’t think they’re all that worried, so I’m not either. I have until Saturday to check out and I hope I get to stay.”
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.