Captain Darryl, Owner of Marsh Cruises
by Misty C. Lee
Taking one hand off the steering wheel of his 23-foot-BayRyder Skiff, Captain Darryl Marsh expertly maneuvers through Bogue Inlet near Swansboro as he points to a spit of land that has caught his attention. Known locally as “Shark’s Teeth Island,” the narrow strip is manmade, created when the inlets were dredged, and the deeper, shell-filled soil was brought to the surface and dumped.
“The sand is super shelly and chockfull of broken shells,” Marsh says. “It’s almost a guarantee you’re going to find shark’s teeth.”
In 2011, Marsh turned his love for fishing and boating of over twenty years into a personalized, guided eco-tour business on the water, offering “Stargazing Night Cruises” and “Sunset and Scenic Cruises” that take guests into Bogue Inlet and Hammocks Beach State Park. Marsh learned about Shark’s Teeth Island and lots of other nooks and crannies in the backwaters of Bear Inlet while producing his saltwater fishing show, Carolina Fishing TV, for cable television a few years ago.
Take a Cruise
This morning, Marsh is taking our group on a shelling cruise, and before we get to Bear Island for a stop, we spy a pod of dolphins diving under the water, then surfacing again, entertaining us with their mid-morning search for breakfast. Marsh’s Silver Labrador, Buxton, is intrigued, too, standing watch at the bow of the boat, waiting for the dolphins to resurface.
As we cruise along, a surprise sandbar appears out of the water, growing wider and wider until a sandy beach that seemingly came out of nowhere is revealed. We don’t have to look too hard to find white, sun-bleached sand dollars lying on the sand, waiting to be scooped up. Some look like they could have already been polished and prepped for sale at a beach boutique.
“This is a good spot where the sand dollars seem to build up,” Marsh says.
As our treasures are safely packed away in our buckets, we jump back into the skiff with Marsh and Buxton and head to the opposite side of Bear Island, where we find four miles of oceanfront beach, where there are no cars, roads or homes – or even people this morning -- on the barrier island, which is known as the showpiece of Hammocks Beach State Park. Aside from the laughing cry of seagulls, the only sounds to break the silence of the island are the hushed tones of the waves, gently lapping the shore. It’s peacefully quiet, and the ebb and flow of the waves have a spa-like quality.
Always the same, and yet, every changing; it’s part of the lure that keeps Marsh intrigued and coming back to this island. “It never gets old,” he says. “I always see something I haven’t seen before.”
Misty C. Lee is a long-time local Onslow County resident and freelance writer. Photos by Onslow County Tourism.