Dependable Erection

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One man's heroic struggle against the intractable forces of nature

A photo essay:

Nature is a trickster, a jester, a player of practical jokes. With the one hand, she builds pristine beaches with wide, flat, inviting expanses of sand. With the other, she hurls hurricanes and tidal forces against these beaches, turning the sand to dust and muck, and carrying it to less accommodating locales.

But one man is making a stand against the madness. Armed only with a 12 inch diameter pipe, a couple of massive pumps, and a bulldozer, he's rebuilding beaches up and down the Carolina coast. Not every beach visitor is lucky enough to see him at work.

Yes, he works through the night to make sure that the beach is still there the next time you return to toss a tennis ball into the ocean with your dog, or bury your friends in the sand and give them fake boobies.

All this work reminds me for some reason of the story of King Canute. As most of us learn it, Canute, the King of Denmark and England, exhibited the kind of hubris known only in Greek tragedies when he, believing himself to be a supreme ruler, attempted to stop the tides from rising. A more generous reading of the tale holds that Canute was a pretty smart guy who was more interested in making sure that his subjects and royal court understood that he knew the limits of his earthly powers, and did the tidal thing to let them all know he wasn't fooled by their fawning.

Nonetheless, i wish our heroic bulldozer operator Godspeed, and hope he doesn't uncover any alien meteors while undertaking this thankless task.



  • Beach renourishment is a curious thing. I saw my first one while living on Hilton Head last winter. It's noisy, the pipes that are strewn across the beach are huge. The equipment is alien-like, but it makes such a huge difference. I don't remember the exact amount of shoreline the HHI project added to the beaches there, but when it was all done you sure could tell.

    On a side note, the men who worked on the Hilton Head renourishment were a bunch of characters. I used to drink with them at this dive bar (yes, Hilton Head has a couple of those) from time to time and they always had the best stories. They're beach nomads.

    By Blogger Ginny, at 10:56 AM  

  • I'm not so sure it's wise to 'rebuild' eroding beaches -- especially after listening to Orin Pilkey discuss the nature of beach erosion/replenishment and costal barrier islands.

    Generally, in my experiences, when beaches are rebuilt, it has dramatically affected in-shore currents, wildlife and wave patterns, not to mention that the next time a major storm hit, the damage was worse that before the beach was re-contoured.

    I lean toward the opinion that anyone who builds on a beach/barrier island needs to be made aware that beach contours and elevated sandbars are ephemeral, at best, and so are any structures built on them, so don't expect the grandkids to inherit your beach house/condo.

    By Blogger Dan S., at 11:11 AM  

  • Orin Pilkey is another one of my heroes. :)

    By Blogger Lenore, at 9:55 PM  

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