Living at the Beach: The Bad

Note: This is part 2 of a three-part series. If you haven’t already read what’s good about the beach, you can find part 1 here.

Call me crazy, but I don’t like everything about my new life living at the beach. That doesn’t mean I’d leave it. But like everything else, there are both good and bad qualities. If there were no drawbacks to living here, my neighborhood would be a lot more crowded. Then I’d have another item to add to the “bad” list. And I’d want to move.

I don’t want to move.

I also don’t want these quiet islands to turn into Myrtle Beach. No offense to you, Myrtle Beach. You’re beautiful. You’re just too crowded. It’s not you…it’s me.

So, in an effort to prevent a violent rush to purchase beachfront property near me, I have listed a few negative aspects of living at the beach in the Sea Islands. Since there are only a few items in the negative column, I’ll elaborate with painstaking, horrifying detail.

Okay, I’m kidding. It’s really not that bad. Unless you want to come here and build high-rises or more houses. It’s a horrible place for you…

Insects

Biting insects thrive here. There are over 60 different species of mosquitos alone. Some of them are large enough to snatch away small pets. Seriously, when you swat away the larger ones, you actually feel something hit your hand. That’s a big mosquito.

I have two things going for me given the Jurassic-period mosquitos here. Luckily, I don’t have an allergic reaction to their bites. They bite, I get a tiny red bump that doesn’t itch, and when they disappear the next day I just hope I don’t get malaria or West Nile disease.

Also, my wife is a mosquito magnet. They’re drawn to her like teen vampires to shy, moody girls. When I’m around her, I probably get half the bites I would otherwise. The sad irony is that she swells and itches like mad from all the bites.

But something worse than mosquitos bites you here: the sand gnats. They’re also known as sand flies or sometimes “demon bugs straight from the pits of Hell.” But most people around here call them no-see-ums. I can’t figure out why they’re called no-see-ums. They’re certainly tiny. But when they’re out in force (they never dine alone) I can see clouds of them around my face. I can spot dozens on my arm, tearing away tiny pieces of me. They also leave tiny red bumps on my skin for a day or two. They don’t itch, but when I’ve been badly bitten, I’m covered with red dots. I look like I might be carrying some unknown infectious disease.

A cloud of mosquitos and sand flies await the author’s wife near the marsh. Kidding! They’re not that bad! Most of the time… Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash

But neither of these tiny flying terrors usually prevent me from enjoying my outdoor time at the beach. You can nearly always count on a nice breeze coming off the water. That generally keeps them from getting too thick. The worst swarms only happen right after a summer rainstorm. There are a few products available to keep them under control.

Everything Rusts

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

With a breeze coming off the ocean almost daily, the saltwater spray comes right along with it, corroding nearly everything it touches. Especially metal. If it’s not stainless steel, galvanized, or painted and waxed often, it will rust.

And metal isn’t the only substance that takes a beating here. Nearly everything fades, cracks, corrodes or otherwise breaks down with exposure to the sun and salt. If you value anything that must stay outside, spend the time and energy (and likely money) to protect it as best you can. Wash and wax your car often. Be ready to repaint your home every 2-3 years. Have a deck? Plan on a paint/stain every 2 years.

Tourist Traffic

Tourist traffic is both blessing and curse. I’m glad to see people visiting this beautiful, historic area. I encourage it! That’s part of the reason I started this blog. But the more people come to visit, the more difficult it is to get around.

When you live on a string of islands, there’s often only one way to get where you need to go. There are no alternate routes. I wrote about this in a previous post, so I won’t go into it again here. If you don’t read the other post, just remember this when you get stuck in island traffic (or anywhere else): breathe deeply and relax. Look around and find a reason to enjoy where you are. Consider yourself on Island Time and just let the stress melt away. Getting angry about the traffic only makes things worse for you. Be good to yourself and those around you. You’ll end up a happier person.

Now, heavy traffic on the beach…completely different story. I prefer a quiet, uncrowded beach without radios blaring. My ideal beach conditions were different twenty years ago. I’ll leave that one to you.

Not so bad after all

You might discover a few more things on the not-so-positive side on island life, but they’re not significant enough to mention. I’d rather focus on the good anyway. Like the morning sun bouncing off the water right now. Or the sight of egrets feeding in the marsh. I think I’ll open up the windows and let some of that salty air corrode away my cares…

Featured photo by Tom Delanoue on Unsplash

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