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Sanctuary Vineyards: A Taste of Wine Country in Currituck County

Photo: OuterBanks.com

When it comes to walking through the winding rows of vines and venturing to wine tastings, few people think of places outside of France, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and Northern California. While these popular wine-producing regions may be the most well-known among novices and connoisseurs alike, thousands of small and independent vineyards exist in other spots throughout the world—one of which is located right here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina: Sanctuary Vineyards.

The History of Sanctuary Vineyards

Photo: Sanctuary Vineyards

Situated on the Currituck County mainland in the small town of Jarvisburg, Sanctuary Vineyards is part of a quaint soundside farm with a unique history that spans back several centuries. The vineyards and surrounding farmland are owned and operated by the Wright family, which has called coastal North Carolina home for seven generations. The story begins hundreds of years ago, when Jacob Wright was shipwrecked on the shoreline of the nearby town of Duck, on the northern Outer Banks. Stranded on the shores of the barrier islands, Jacob Wright decided to settle permanently in the area and promptly established a farm in Currituck County that he could call home.

Photo: Carolina Designs

The land and its original settler’s farming traditions were passed along from generation to generation, with each new owner within the Wright family making subtle changes and adding their own unique twist. At the time the region’s earliest settlers began to develop the sandy soils of the Outer Banks, vineyards didn’t comprise row after row of grape-filled vines. Instead, they typically consisted of a single muscadine vine that was planted on their property for the purpose of producing the sweet grapes that were so well-suited for use as an ingredient in pies, juices, jellies and jams.

Photo: Sanctuary Vineyards

Over the years, the popularity of muscadine grapes grew—both because of their unique flavor and their ability to withstand the occasionally harsh conditions of the coastal plains and thrive in an environment that few other varieties of vine could even survive. By the mid-1800s, more than two dozen small vineyards had sprung up across the eastern portion of the Tar Heel State, and—according to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina—these wineries enjoyed so much success, the state was ranked as the leading wine producer in the United States prior to the era of Prohibition.

Sanctuary Vineyard’s World-Class Wines

Photo: Outer Banks Magazine

Recognizing the opportunity to partake in the production of sweet muscadine wines on their property, the Wright family members of decades past put their extensive knowledge of farming techniques to work on the coastal Carolina soils that were perfectly suited to growing muscadine grapes. The final result is the modern-day Sanctuary Vineyards, which boasts centuries of farming experience, knowledge and dedication to carefully cultivating the earth in an effort to produce world-class wines on a large plot of land along the Currituck Sound.   

Photo: NC Wine Guys

Along with hundreds of acres of wildlife impoundments—which the family refers to as “The Sanctuary” portion of the property—and farmland where other crops are grown, this popular Outer Banks vineyard features 10 acres that are dedicated solely to growing grapes. Within the rows of grapevines, several varieties of grapes are grown, including Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Norton and, of course, the ever-popular Muscadine.

Sanctuary Vineyards’ most popular wine is Wild Pony White (2015), a smooth-sipping dry wine consisting of 32 percent Chardonnay, 20 percent Pinot Gris, 18 percent Viognier, 16 percent Chardonel and 14 percent Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to being the vineyard’s best-selling variety of wine, Wild Pony White—which is named for the herd of wild horses that have roamed the beaches of the Corolla and Carova for centuries—also benefits a good cause on the Outer Banks, with a portion of its proceeds being donated to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Photo: Outer Banks Restaurant Guide

Other varieties of wines created by Sanctuary Vineyards include Chardonnay (2015), which features bright notes of apple and pear; The Triangle (2015 White Blend), a blend of North Carolina Viognier, Roussanne and Albariño that boasts melon and citrus aromas; Pearl (2015 Albariño), which is handcrafted from a Spanish white grape and imparts tropical fruit flavors; and Wildflowers (2015 Cabernet Franc), a medium-bodied rosé that offers flavors of strawberry and melon.

Photo: VisitCurrituck.com

Also featured in the vineyard’s collection is Morton, a blend of five choice red wines—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot—that, when combined, result in rich black cherry flavors and notes of sweet oak and spice; Lightkeeper, a rosé that features honey aromas and muscadine flavors of sweet cherries, strawberry and melon; and The Plank, a muscadine red that is “full of ripe and jammy flavor,” and whose cork is sealed with wax to present an authentic pirate-themed appearance.

Photo: Sanctuary Vineyards

Perhaps the most unique variety of wine in Sanctuary Vineyards’ collection is OBX Ice, a limited-production 2015 dessert wine whose blend begins with the tastes of tropical fruits and ends with a smooth candied finish. And wine lovers cannot skip sampling Sweet Serenity, a muscadine white that is characterized by a smooth sweetness and powerful aroma, and is made with the muscadine grapes that are native to eastern North Carolina—making this variety of Sanctuary Vineyards’ wine as local as it gets.

Photo: Sanctuary Vineyards

Known for offering a wide array of world-class wines, hosting a series of fun and unique events throughout the year, and serving as a popular spot for Outer Banks weddings, Sanctuary Vineyards is a true treasure on the barrier islands of North Carolina. Visit the tasting room for a sample of their exceptional creations, or stop by the winery at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays for a tour of this Outer Banks attraction whose history dates back hundreds of years to the day its original settler became shipwrecked on the shoals of the Graveyard of the Atlantic seven generations ago. 

Birdwatching During the Winter on the Outer Banks

Photo: OuterBanks.com

Although the Outer Banks of North Carolina is most often thought of as a summer vacation destination, plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation are also available throughout the winter months, when the surf’s too cold to comfortably catch a wave and the temps are too chilly to break out your beach blanket, wear a bathing suit and work on your tan.

Photo: Mark Buckler Photography

Whether the water in the sounds on the western side of the islands have frozen solid and you’re searching for an adventure to occupy your time while still enjoying the great outdoors, or you simply want to experience the unique natural areas of these barrier islands and witness the different types of wildlife that call it home during the off-season, birdwatching on the Outer Banks is a one-of-a-kind activity to partake in when the cold winter months prevent you from hitting the beach for some fun in the sun.

June, July and August may be the most popular times for vacationers to visit the Outer Banks, but if you’re lucky enough to take a trip to the easternmost portion of North Carolina in the winter, you’ll not only find very few tourists to share your space with—you’ll also discover an assortment of interesting species of waterfowl that are either here for the entire winter or just passing through on their way to warmer climates further to the south.

To plan the perfect week of wildlife-viewing during your stay, start by checking out the top three spots to birdwatch on the Outer Banks below.

Jennette’s Pier at Whalebone Junction

Photo: Pemley Photography

If you are staying in the central portion of the Outer Banks—think Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk—you won’t find a better place to birdwatch without having to venture too far out into the wilderness than Jennette’s Pier. Located at Whalebone Junction in Nags Head, this concrete fishing pier is an Outer Banks attraction that offers an excellent place to easily view area wildlife.

Photo: obxbound.com

Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from January through March, Jennette’s Pier extends 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, giving you an amazing place to scope out area shorebirds. Here you’ll spot species that range from loons, gulls and gannets to cormorants, razorbills and pelicans—all either taking dramatic dives into the ocean from sky above or leisurely floating along just beyond the breakers. While many birds can be seen from the shoreline, Jennette’s Pier allows birdwatchers to walk 1,000 feet past the surfline and experience an even better view of the wildlife that call the Nags Head area home each winter.

Bodie Island Lighthouse in South Nags Head

Photo: OuterBanks.com

Working your way further to the south, head to the Bodie Island Lighthouse in South Nags Head, where you’ll not only stumble upon one of the four landmark lighthouses that are so well-known along the barrier islands of the Outer Banks—but also an excellent birdwatching spot just beyond the black-and-white painted structure that lights the way for mariners at sea. Situated a few miles south of Jennette’s Pier on Highway 12, the Bodie Island Lighthouse grounds are part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and feature a large freshwater pond and marshy area that attracts a wide array of shorebirds throughout the fall and winter months.

Photo: Yahoo

A wooden walkway leads visitors from the lighthouse and attached keepers quarters to an elevated viewing area overlooking the shallow body of water that is nestled into the neighboring marshland. Here you’ll likely see such species as the Eurasian wigeon, American avocet and black-necked stilt, among many other wintering waterfowl wading in the water and soaring over the sea oats. Take a quick drive across Highway 12 from the Bodie Island Lighthouse to nearby Coquina Beach, a popular beach access where you’ll also have the chance to encounter other species of birds that winter on the Outer Banks, including scoters, loons and northern gannets, on the ocean side of the island.  

Oregon Inlet & Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Photo: VBSF.net

If a picturesque and photo-worthy backdrop and a plethora of wildlife is what you seek during your Outer Banks birdwatching excursion, continue even further south to Oregon Inlet and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary extends for more than 10 miles from Oregon Inlet to the village of Rodanthe.

Separating the northern beaches of the Outer Banks from Hatteras Island, on the opposite side of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, Oregon Inlet is one of the only waterways along the barrier islands that allows ships to sail from the Roanoke, Albemarle and Pamlico sounds to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. As such, this popular access point is frequently filled with both private and commercial fishing boats, as well as numerous species of wintering birds that can be spotted from the shoreline on both sides of the inlet and the large rock jetty on the northernmost tip of Hatteras Island.

Pull into the parking area for the recently renovated Pea Island Lifesaving Station and trek out along one of several sandy pathways that lead to the ocean beaches on the edge of the island or the cozy cove that is tucked away just south of the inlet, forming a small beach and perfect private viewing area. When you embark on a birdwatching adventure at Oregon Inlet in the winter, you’ll likely spot such species as American white pelicans and American oystercatchers, as well as purple sandpipers, a variety of ducks and, occasionally, one of the rarest species to visit the Outer Banks: the great cormorant. But perhaps the most exciting aspect of birdwatching at Oregon Inlet and the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge this particular winter is the chance to witness the snowy owl—an elusive yet highly sought-after species that has already been spotted along the barrier islands of the Outer Banks by wildlife enthusiasts at none other than Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge several times this season!

 

The Weeping Radish: North Carolina’s Oldest Microbrewery

Over the course of the past decade, the popularity of craft beers concocted by small, local breweries has grown exponentially. Small, local breweries have begun to spring up in towns across America, with the latest figures estimating the number of craft breweries operating in the United States at 5,234 as of the end of 2017.

According to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, when it comes to the number of craft breweries, the Tarheel State—which boasts 230 craft breweries within its borders—is home to more craft breweries than any other state in the country. Although dozens of craft breweries have opened their doors and begun developing unique brews over the course of the past few decades—Raleigh and its surrounding suburbs alone are home to 25 craft breweries—only one can stake its claim as being the oldest microbrewery in the state: the Weeping Radish Brewery.

Originally founded by Bavarian native Uli Bennewitz in the small waterside town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, the Weeping Radish Restaurant and Brewery first opened in 1986 in an annex adjacent to The Christmas Shop on Highway 64. Bennewitz, who had emigrated from Bavaria to the United States in the 1980s, wanted to open a microbrewery similar to the ones he’d left behind in his homeland. At the time, however, only 100 microbreweries existed in the entire United States, and North Carolina law had declared it illegal for a brewery to sell beer directly to consumers.

Photo: Weeping Radish

Determined to succeed in opening his microbrewery and undeterred by the challenges presented by local laws, Bennewitz worked diligently with state politicians to have the law changed—eventually winning the opportunity to open his brewery on the Outer Banks and ultimately paving the way for hundreds of other craft breweries in North Carolina to do the same decades later.

Photo: Stephanie Banfield

From the beginning, the beers brewed by the Weeping Radish have been concocted according to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516. In addition to stating that no chemicals, preservatives or additives may be used in the beer-brewing process, this law also requires the brewmaster to use only four ingredients in the process: hops, malt, yeast and water. The beers brewed by the Weeping Radish grew in popularity among both locals and visitors to the Outer Banks, and Bennewitz eventually decided he needed a larger facility to keep up with the increasing demand for his products. In 2007 the Manteo location closed its doors and the operation was moved 35 miles away to Grandy in nearby Currituck County.

Photo: Weeping Radish

Four years later, groundbreaking began in Grandy, and in 2005 the new location—which featured a larger brewery, as well as a restaurant, farm and butcher’s facility—brewed its first batch of beer and opened to the public once again, this time as the “Weeping Radish Farm Brewery.” With the larger facility up and running and ready to offer craft brews to those in search of local breweries on the Outer Banks, Bennewitz took on yet another challenge: applying the Reinheitsgebot principles he had applied to his beers for nearly two decades—refraining from the use of chemicals and additives and working hard to ensure the finish product received minimal processing—to the food he served in his restaurant.  

Photo: The Redhead Riter

With the goal of reducing the current average distance food travels before it gets to the consumer from 2,000 miles to 200 miles, Bennewitz brought on Gunther Kuhle, a German master butcher, and set out to produce “Reinheitsgebot food” for locals and visitors to the area taking an Outer Banks vacation. The Weeping Radish Farm Brewery operates a 14-acre farm where organic vegetables are grown, and also works with area farms to source only free-range pork and beef for the charcuterie and sausages it serves in its popular restaurant located just 20 minutes from Kitty Hawk on the northern Outer Banks. From sauerbraten, beer brats, sausage samplers and pork schnitzel to burgers, soups, salads and sandwiches, the farm-to-table food served at the German-inspired Weeping Radish Farm Brewery has received such positive reviews it was featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri in 2013. 

In addition to offering a spot for Outer Banks locals and tourists to sit down for a delicious lunch, dinner or just a tasty craft brew, the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery also features a retail counter where a variety of products ranging from sausages and pastrami to bacon and beer can be purchased. Guided tours of the on-site brewery are also offered to the public, so those interested in the brewing process behind the popular Outer Banks beers Bennewitz worked so hard to bring to the area can witness the inner-workings of the facility that put microbrewing on the map of the state of North Carolina more than 30 years ago.

Holiday Happenings on the Outer Banks

The holiday season is officially upon us, and when it comes to feeling festive, there’s no better place to find a variety of events than the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Regardless of whether you’re a native of the region or a vacationer in search of some holiday spirit, the following activities and attractions should not be missed if you’re planning to spend some time on the Outer Banks this December.

  • Colington Harbour Boat Parade

Nothing says “Christmas on the coast” like sailboats decked out in strands of bright-colored lights and holiday décor as they weave through the waterways on the west side of Kill Devil Hills. Colington Harbour—a scenic waterfront community situated along the edge of the Roanoke Sound on Colington Island—will hold its annual Christmas boat parade this Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at 5 p.m.

During the Colington Harbour Yacht Club’s Christmas Boat Parade, visitors and residents of this community—which comprises a series of meandering canals—will gather at the Colington Harbour marina parking lot (1000 Colington Drive in Kill Devil Hills) for front-row seats to watch the brightly lit boats make their way out of the nearby canals and then circle around the harbor playing Christmas music and waving at the crowd.

Keep an eye out for Santa Claus, who is frequently spotted on one of the boats, and be sure to grab a complimentary cup of hot cocoa to keep warm while you listen to popular Christmas tunes and watch the beautifully decorated boats go by.

  • The Outer Banks Christmas House

The holiday season is not complete with a tour of some of the town’s best Christmas light displays. Because the barrier islands are primarily a vacation destination and the vast majority of homes here are weekly rentals rather than permanent residences, you probably won’t find as many neighborhood light displays when you’re visiting the Outer Banks as you would in your own year-round community. There are, however, several places that put on quite a show each season—and one in particular has truly earned its spot at the top of the “must-see” Outer Banks Christmas lights list.

Featured in years past on both HGTV and NBC’s “Today” show, the Outer Banks Christmas House has become an Outer Banks tradition that locals and visitors alike look forward to all year long. The Poulos family begins setting up their epic holiday attraction a whopping 12 weeks before the first day the array of lights are plugged in for the season and light up their residence on West Ocean Acres Drive in Kill Devil Hills. In addition to taking three months to assemble, the display costs the Poulos family as much as $3,500 in energy bills each month just to transform their property into a winter wonderland. The incredible lights display at the Outer Banks Christmas House can be viewed nightly from Nov. 24, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2017.

  • New Year in the New World

Photo: Matt Lusk Photography

The shifting sandbars of the Outer Banks are as famous for their rich history as they are for the sun, surf and sand that have made them into an incredibly popular vacation destination over the past half century—and few parts of the barrier islands have such as storied past as the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island. Birthplace of Virginia Dare, the first English child, and the site of the infamous Lost Colony that vanished from the island without a trace in the 16th century, Roanoke Island attracts thousands of history buffs to its soundside shorelines and charming downtown area every season.

In honor of the island’s prominent place in history, a brand-new holiday event—“New Year in the New World”—will be held in Manteo this year. Scheduled for 3 p.m. until midnight on Dec. 31, 2017, this inaugural event is designed to be a festive family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration. The roadways throughout downtown Manteo will be closed, and Outer Banks residents and visitors are invited to a street fair featuring live music, shopping, an early ball drop at 8:30 p.m. and events for the kids, and local vendors selling food and drinks—as well as the largest fireworks display in the state of North Carolina, which will also be choregraphed to music. If you’re visiting the Outer Banks for the holidays, you won’t find a better place on the beach to ring in 2018 than New Year in the New World!

Experience a Winter Wonderland at the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island

If you’re visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the Christmas season this year, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit and start feeling festive than taking a tour of the Winter Lights display at the Elizabethan Gardens.

Photo: North Beach Sun

From November 25, 2017, through January 20, 2018, the hedges, trees and plants that line the series of pathways that wind through this popular attraction on the northern tip of Roanoke Island are covered with string after string of bright and colorful lights, resulting in a spectacular display that every visitor to the barrier islands of the Outer Banks must experience at least once in their lifetime.  

Photo: Outer Banks This Week

Situated on the shores of the Roanoke Sound within the confines of the historic town of Manteo, the Elizabethan Gardens first opened to the public on August 18, 1960, the 373rd anniversary of the birth of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. Since their gates first opened 57 years ago, they have welcome tens of thousands of people vacationing on the Outer Banks each season who year to enjoy more than just the sun, surf and sand during their stay on this slice of island paradise. The gardens—which comprise an area of more than 10 acres—are home to more than 500 different and unique species of plants and flowers that bloom at various times throughout the year, as well as several one-of-a-kind statues, sundials, bird baths, an ancient Italian fountain and so much more.

Photo: OuterBanks.com

Although the Elizabethan Gardens receives the vast majority of its visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day, when the beaches are busy and tourist season is in full swing, the two months from Thanksgiving to late January each year—when the meandering walkways are decked with holiday décor and loads of spectacular light displays—are a highly anticipated time for locals and vacationers alike.

Photo: OuterBanks.com

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on select evenings each week, visitors to the Elizabethan Gardens’ Winter Lights display will be greeted by a winter wonderland unlike any they’ve ever witnessed before. The garden pathways that weave through this Outer Banks landmark that has enchanted adults and children alike for more than half a century are illuminated with awe-inspiring lighting that is draped over the hedges and wrapped around the tree trunks, extending out to the tips of their branches. 

Photo: Outer Banks This Week

A fire crackles on the great lawn, marking the perfect spot to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa after touring the gardens and taking in all the scenery during your stroll through along the garden grounds. Holiday décor ranging from child-size gingerbread houses and lighted reindeer displays to colorful candy canes and life-size nutcracker cut-outs can be found along the walkways, providing the perfect opportunity for photos with friends and family, or for simply gazing in awe at the magical world that surrounds you in this stunning scene. 

Photo: Outer Banks This Week

Whether you are a local who has lived here for years, a first-time visitor to the area or you’ve been spending the holiday season vacationing on these beautiful barrier islands for decades, the Winter Lights at the Elizabethan Gardens is one winter tradition on the Outer Banks you won’t want to miss this season! For more information on the Winter Lights display or to purchase tickets, visit ElizabethanGardens.org.

 

 

 

Maintenance Must-Dos for Homeowners to Complete this Fall: Part 1

Photo: freehdw.com

It’s that time of year again. The leaves have begun their transformation from green to golden yellow, orange and red, and a tinge of crispness can be felt in the cool air. Fall has officially arrived, and with it comes a checklist of household chores that everyone homeowner should complete before the cold winter days looming on the distant horizon catch up to them. Follow these maintenance must-dos for homeowners within the next few weeks, and you’ll be able to kick back and relax with a cup of hot apple cider knowing your property is in top-notch shape for the seasons to come.

Stock up on Supplies

Photo: Reader’s Digest

Whether you anxiously await on the onset of winter weather or you absolutely dread the cold that’s sure to come, stocking up on seasonal supplies is one of the simplest and most effective ways to gear up for the snow, ice and possible power outages that often accompany the season. No one wants to think about snow shovels and ice melt when it’s still warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors without having to put on a parka; however, when it comes to stocking up on winter supplies, the old adage “better safe than sorry” definitely applies.

Photo: Larson LawnScape

Rather than wait until the first flakes of snow—or, worse, a surge of sleet—begins to fall and then rushing to the store in inclement weather to grab supplies, shop for winter necessities well before you will actually need them. The specific items you’ll need to purchase depend on what geographic region you reside in and what types of climate you typically experience, but you can’t go wrong with bags of pet-safe ice melt, shovels and ice scrapers. 

Photo: DIY Network

If your home is in an area that receives significant snowfalls throughout the winter months, be sure to have your snowblower serviced so you aren’t surprised with a faulty piece of equipment that refuses to work the first time you try to start it for the season. Don’t forget to fill your portable gas container with fuel and store it in a safe spot so you can easily access it when it’s time to clear your driveway and sidewalks of that chilly powder that falls from the sky.  

Photo: Consumer Reports

You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes with realizing your walkway is quickly filling up with snow and knowing you’ve got a sufficient shovel and several bags of ice melt safely stocked in your garage or basement—stock up this fall and save yourself the trouble of grabbing gear when everyone else in town is rushing to get it!

Trim Trees to Prevent Property Damage

Photo: Post and Courier

 You don’t have to live along a hurricane-prone part of the coastline to know that strong winds can topple even the tallest of trees and toss them around like matchsticks. Dozens of people are killed in their home or their home each year when a strong storm rolls through, bringing with it enough rain to over-saturate a tree’s roots—or winds so intense they rip a tree from its foundation and send it hurtling into a home. But did you ever stop to think about how the trees in your very own yard can pose a threat to your property and your family in the dead of winter?

Photo: Riverhead News & Review

Winter storms can result in high winds that whip through neighborhoods and cause even the sturdiest of trees to break loose from the ground, potentially falling onto residences and harming those inside. Likewise, ice storms can coat the limbs of trees with layers of thick, heavy sheets of ice that cause them to snap loose from trees and fall on anything that stands below.

Photo: Alyse Lansing Garden Design

To ensure your family and your home are safe this winter—and to prevent damage from fallen trees from potentially injuring your loved ones or resulting in having to file a claim with your insurance company—use this time to take inventory of the trees on your property and to determine if any are in danger of being damaged this season. Be on the lookout for dead branches or diseased trees, which are most likely to fall victim to sheets of ice or strong winds first. Trim the damaged portions off the tree to avoid branches or limbs wreaking havoc on your residence when a winter storm hits. Trees that are leaning toward your property or that have grown just a little too close to your home for comfort should also be trimmed back, removed or relocated if possible to protect your home and its occupants this holiday season.    

Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Monitors

Photo: WCCO CBS Local

Nothing is more important than the safety of your family and your pets, regardless of what season it may be. Although smoke detectors in your home should be checked to ensure they are in working order once every single month, batteries are generally replaced only twice a year—and fall is the perfect time to do it.

When winter weather arrives, you’ll be trading air conditioning for central heat and ceiling fans for portable, plug-in heating devices, which can present a fire hazard when not used properly or monitored carefully. Most heated blankets manufactured within the past few years feature an automated shutoff mechanism that prevents them from overheating and potentially catching fire; however, many older products don’t turn off after being in use for a set amount of time, putting our property—and your family—at serious risk.      

Photo: Clarksville Online

Because so many products and devices are used during the winter months to heat your home and personal space, it’s imperative to replace the batteries and check your smoke detectors in the fall to ensure they are in working order and can alert you to a fire if necessary. But fire isn’t the only threat homeowners face during the winter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20,000 people are exposed to carbon monoxide each year and end up in the emergency room. In addition, 4,000 individuals will require hospitalization for their illness, and more than 400 people die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning—many of them while sleeping in their own homes, unaware that they have been exposed to the deadly gas that can be generated by something so seemingly harmless as a furnace.

This odorless, colorless and tasteless gas is extremely difficult to detect, and while the initial systems are similar to those that come with a common cold or flu—such as headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness—coming into contact with carbon monoxide can ultimately result in carbon monoxide poisoning or even death. Don’t let your family risk a dangerous encounter carbon monoxide this season. Purchase a few carbon monoxide detectors for various rooms in your home online or at your local hardware store, and rest assured knowing your loved ones are safe from this difficult-to-detect substance that has been coined the “the silent killer.”

**Check Coastal Cottage Company’s blog next week for more helpful and important tips for preparing your property for the upcoming winter season!

 

 

 

 

The Move of the Millennium: Moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Photo: Photography Life

When it comes to landmarks along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, none are as well-known or frequently visited as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The iconic lighthouse—which stands 193 feet in height—is the tallest lighthouse in the United States and attracts approximately 200,000 visitors each year, making it one of the most popular attractions from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. Situated in the heart of Buxton on Hatteras Island, the famous black-and-white spiraled structure has stood watch over the Graveyard of the Atlantic for centuries, warning sailors of the treacherous sandbars and shifting shoals that lie just off the coast of barrier islands.

Photo: National Geographic

However, in 1999—nearly 200 years after the construction process was complete and the lighthouse was lit for the very first time—the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse found itself threatened by the ever-encroaching Atlantic Ocean. Decade after decade of converging currents, strong surf and storms ranging from minor nor’easters to massive hurricanes caused the ocean to slowly but surely swallow up stretches of the sandbar on which the lighthouse stood, leaving the tower increasingly vulnerable to the white-capped waves and the threat of imminent destruction.

Photo: National Park Service

In 1893, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was recorded as standing 1,500 feet from the shoreline, but less than a century later, in 1975, only 175 feet stood between the structure and the pounding surf. When cracks were found in the walls of the tower, the lighthouse was closed to the public. Five years later, when the lighthouse stood just 50 feet from the ocean, U.S. Senator Helms and North Carolina Gov. Hunt teamed up with others who feared the damaged structure would be lost to the sea if left in its current condition, and the Save the Lighthouse Committee was formed. The National Park Service requested an independent study of the lighthouse’s precarious position be performed, and the results included the recommendation that the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse eventually be moved to a spot farther away from the sea.

Photo: Pinterest

Attempting to buy some time before the structure had to be relocated, the National Park Service called for restoration of the cracks in the tower that had forced the closure of this Outer Banks landmark. The restoration process began in 1990, and once the cracks were fixed and visitors could once again safely climb the 257 steps inside the lighthouse to reach the top, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reopened to the public in 1993. In the years that followed, the erosion continued, and the epic waves that attract so many surfers to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore each year had stripped away all but a small sliver of sandbar that separated the base of the tower from the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Lighthouse Friends

In order to save the lighthouse from eventual devastation, the National Park Service had to pick one of three options for ultimately preventing the structure from falling into the sea: reinforcing the existing jetties that were designed to stretch into the surf and reduce the impact of wave action on the island; constructing a seawall around the lighthouse so that it would eventually end up sitting atop its own island in the ocean; or move it to a safer location a bit further inland. Although there was widespread support for all three options, in the end it was determined that the best option for protecting the tower was moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse farther away from the surf that constantly threatened it. In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a relocation budget, and the plans to perform the so-called “move of the millennium” were officially prepared.

Photo: National Park Service

Although smaller lighthouses had been moved in other coastal states in years past, moving the tallest lighthouse in the United States was no small feat—and no structure of its scale had ever been relocated before. A New York-based company called International Chimney Corp. was contracted to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with the help of another contractor, Expert House Movers of Maryland. In order to move the structure from its perilous position by the sea, the lighthouse—which weighed 4,830 tons—would have to be lifted off its foundation and transferred to a transport system that would ultimately move it along a predetermined route to its new location, where it would be placed atop an all-new foundation.

Photo: Island Free Press

The first step in the process of moving the lighthouse was to replace the original foundation with temporary supports and shoring beams. A series of cross beams and main beams were then set, allowing the temporary supports to be moved. The structure was then raised six feet off its foundation by hydraulic jacks that were built into the main beams. Once the structure was raised, rollers and roll beams were inserted. The jacks were shored with the use of oak cribbing, and the system was pressurized and lifted again by the jacks. As the structure was lifted off its foundation a little at a time, the jacks were retracted and shored up several times before it was once again lifted to six feet and ready to begin its journey down a pathway through the sand to its new location nearly 3,000 feet from the spot where it currently stood.

Photo: Pinterest

On June 17, 1999, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse captured the attention of people across the country and around the world, as it started its slow and deliberate journey to the southwest. The support frame moved along its track to the new location with the assistance of roller dollies and steel track beams that served as rails. The lighthouse was kept carefully aligned by three zones of hydraulic jacks, which prevented the structure from swaying and potentially tipping over. The support frame was pulled forward toward the new lighthouse location just five feet at a time by a series of push jacks that were clamped to the track. Sixty automated sensors placed in various positions on the lighthouse constantly measured the load’s tilt and vibration, and a weather sensor attached to the top of the lighthouse kept tabs on the temperature and wind speed throughout the entire moving process.

Photo: OuterBanks.org

Three weeks after the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse began its 2,900-foot journey from its perilous perch on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean the move was complete, and the structure was placed on top of its new foundation. The lighthouse joined several other structures that had been relocated from the original lighthouse site earlier that year, including the principal keeper’s quarters, the double keeper’s quarters, an oil house and cisterns. Finally saved from years spent facing the risk of tumbling into the ocean that had continuously eroded the shoreline over which it stood watch for centuries, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse reopened to the public on November 13, 1999, and once again resumed its status as one of the most iconic landmarks on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Background of Blackbeard the Pirate’s Flagship Vessel

Photo: History.com

The waters off the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina have claimed the lives of thousands of ships throughout the past several centuries. However, few vessels that have met their fate in their shoals along the Graveyard of the Atlantic are as well-known as the one sailed by a pirate named Edward Teach—better known as Blackbeard—in the early 1700s. In true pirate fashion, Blackbeard commandeered the merchant vessel—which he renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge—then overtook its crew and outfitted the ship with a series of armaments he would need to wreak havoc on the high seas and earn his title as one of the most notorious pirates who has ever lived.

Photo: Trip Advisor

Although Blackbeard—who was seen as a menace by merchants and a threat to the supplies sailing in and out of area ports—was killed by a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in 1718, the whereabouts of his infamous vessel remained a mystery for hundreds of years, until it was discovered at the bottom of the ocean in 1996. The flagship of Blackbeard’s small fleet of ships, the Queen Anne’s Revenge was a 200-ton frigate built in Rochefort, France. Originally named La Concorde, the ship was owned by Rene Montaudoin—a prominent French merchant who ran a slave-trafficking company—and used primarily for slave-trading operations. According to the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project, the ship operated out of a port in western France called Nantes, which was situated at the mouth of the Loire River and became the heart of the French slave trade during the 18th century.

Photo: Leah Marie Brown Historicals

From 1713 to 1717, La Concorde made three journeys. Each trip, the vessel was stocked with trade goods at the port of Nantes during the spring, and then it sailed south to the west coast of Africa, where its captain was responsible for purchasing enslaved Africans who would be kept as “cargo.” La Concorde would then set sail from the shores of Africa and head to the New World—a transatlantic voyage that typically took up to two months. The 500-plus slaves transported as human cargo during each trip were typically taken to islands in the Lesser Antilles, where they were sold as laborers to work in the sugar cane fields. Once the enslaved Africans were taken off La Concorde, the ship was loaded with new cargo—often sugar from the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe—before it set off en route to France once again.

Photo: Replica of the Queen Anne’s Revenge pirate flag

During La Concorde’s third and final voyage transporting slaves from Africa to these island nations, the vessel was sailing through the shipping lanes of the Caribbean—an area known for the presence of pirates who would commandeer the ships and ruthlessly pillage any trade goods they found onboard. On November 28, 1717, La Concorde was captured by Blackbeard and his pirate crew as the ship was sailing near the island of Martinique. Blackbeard quickly converted the former merchant vessel into a ship better suited for acts of piracy, mounting 40 guns on the 103-foot-long frigate and renaming her the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Photo: PirateShipVallarta.com

Blackbeard and his crew of 300-plus men—including some who had worked aboard La Concorde before it was plundered—continued to sail back and forth between Africa and the islands of the Caribbean, attacking merchant ship after merchant ship along the way. Eventually, his flotilla made its way up the Eastern Seaboard to South Carolina, where Blackbeard famously blockaded the port of Charleston and looted virtually every vessel that sailed into or out of what was at that time one of the busiest ports in the southeastern United States. After successfully plundering dozens of ships in South Carolina, Blackbeard headed up the coast toward the Outer Banks, where he would frequently anchor the Queen Anne’s Revenge in the waters of Ocracoke Inlet—a high-traffic waterway that vessels making their way from the open ocean to mainland settlements along the Pamlico Sound frequently passed through.

Photo: Daily Mail

However, during a voyage that took his flotilla of pirate ships farther south, toward the Shackleford Banks on June 10, 1718, Blackbeard ran the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on a sandbar near Beaufort Inlet. Supplies and stolen goods from other vessels were quickly transferred from his flagship to a smaller vessel in his flotilla, and Blackbeard and his crew escaped the ordeal. The damaged Queen Anne’s Revenge, however, was left stranded on the sandbar, where it eventually was claimed by the shifting shoals and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Queen Anne’s Revenge Project

The notorious 18th century pirate was later killed in combat on November 22, 1718, when he and his crew were the recipients of a surprise attack by British sailors who sought to put an end to piracy. For centuries, the exact whereabouts of his sunken flagship were unknown—that is until a marine archaeology team found what they believed to be the wreckage of the Queen Anne’s Revenge on November 21, 1996. Strewn along the seafloor, the team discovered several 18th century artifacts, including anchors and cannons. In 2004, the site where the Queen Anne’s Revenge was found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the artifacts were transported to a conservation lab in Greenville, North Carolina, where visitors can view these pieces of piracy up close and personal during a tour of the facility.

*Stay tuned for our upcoming blog about the discovery of the Queen Anne’s Revenge off the coast of North Carolina as well as the numerous centuries-old artifacts that were found within the wreckage of Blackbeard the pirate’s famous flagship.

A Look Back at Hurricane Matthew

Photo: WTVR

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which produced devastating flooding throughout Texas and Louisiana in late August, all eyes were on Hurricane Irma—a massive Category 5 hurricane whose projected path put the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the potential crosshairs until a shift in its positioning caused the incredibly destructive storm to change its route and make landfall along the Florida Keys instead.

Although the Outer Banks dodged a bullet when the record-breaking hurricane the size of Texas struck the Sunshine State, the thin string of barrier islands that hug the North Carolina coast has not always been so lucky. In the past several decades, the Outer Banks have been hit with a slew of storms the wreaked havoc on the popular vacation destination. Perhaps the most destructive hurricane to recently strike the region was Hurricane Matthew, an enormous storm whose effects on eastern North Carolina will be recorded in history books and forever be remembered by those who experienced it firsthand.

Photo: CNN

Hurricane Matthew originated as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa nearly one year ago, on Sept. 22, 2016. Six days later, the wave became a tropical storm near the Lesser Antilles, and it reached hurricane status the next day north of Venezuela. From there, Hurricane Matthew—the 13th named storm of the 2016 hurricane season and the second major hurricane—rapidly intensified into a Category 5 on Oct. 1, making it the first Category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic Ocean since Hurricane Felix in 2007.   

Photo: Stephanie Banfield, Seaside Vacations Outer Banks

On Oct. 8, 2016, Hurricane Matthew—which weakened while crossing landmasses throughout the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba—made landfall in South Carolina as a strong Category 1 storm. Tracking northward, Hurricane Matthew moved up the southeastern United States and into North Carolina, bringing with it massive amounts of rainfall that overwhelmed waterways throughout the Tar Heel State and resulted in substantial flooding that prompted evacuations and roof rescues in several cities.

Photo: Outer Banks Drone

Although storm surge from the ocean and the sounds contributed to some of the damage, the majority of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew was due to prolonged periods of heavy rain. Large portions of the Outer Banks experienced so much unprecedented flooding in low-lying areas that water levels rose to upward of four feet in several neighborhoods, most of which were not prone to flooding, leaving residents immensely unprepared. From Corolla to Kill Devil Hills to Hatteras Island, unelevated homes were submerged by flood waters, vehicles were destroyed, parts of Highway 12 collapsed and washed away, and downed trees knocked out power to much of the region for several days.

Photo: Stephanie Banfield, Seaside Vacations Outer Banks

Emergency management officials estimated that 4,000 properties were affected in Dare County alone, resulting in $40 million in damages. While no fatalities were reported on the Outer Banks due to Hurricane Matthew, the storm was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,000 people—20 of which were in North Carolina—as it made its way from the Caribbean to Cape Hatteras before turning and heading once again out to sea. According to National Geographic, Hurricane Matthew was “one of the most destructive storms of recent years” and, according to some experts, could serve as “an indication of extreme [weather] events to come.”

 

 

 

Richard Etheridge & the Pea Island Life-Saving Station: Part 1

Photo: Bowman Murray Architects
Photo: Pinterest

When most visitors to the Outer Banks hear the words “Pea Island,” images of a windswept wildlife refuge that stretches from sea to sound on the northern tip of Hatteras Island often come to mind first. But for those familiar with the storied past of the barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, such words don’t just conjure thoughts of a location known for exceptional shelling spots and opportunities to see a wide array of wildlife in their natural habitats—the area is synonymous with one of the most important groups of people in Outer Banks history: the surfmen of the life-saving station at Pea Island.  

Decades before thousands of vacationers venturing to the Outer Banks for a week of rest and relaxation began spending time on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge during their stay, this narrow sliver of sand just south of Oregon Inlet served as the location of the U.S. Life-Saving Service’s Station 17. Founded in 1871, the U.S. Life-Saving Service was tasked with ensuring the safe passage of sailors aboard vessels that made their way up and down the shipping lines along the Eastern Seaboard. The shifting shoals off the Outer Banks of North Carolina proved extremely treacherous for even the most experienced of sailors to navigate, resulting in so many dozens of shipwrecks over the years that the region was subsequently dubbed “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

Photo: Pinterest

For Station 17, architect J. Lake Parkinson designed a boathouse-type structure to be erected on the sandbar overlooking the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. Featuring rustic wood walls, dormers to allow light to splash onto second floor, and a crow’s nest that offered a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, the life-saving station became home to a crew of seven surfmen led by the now-infamous Richard Etheridge. Although it was one of seven life-saving stations to be constructed along the North Carolina coast during this time period, Station 17 was unique in that it was the only station in the country manned by an all-black crew. Born a slave in January 1842, Etheridge enlisted in the Union army in August 1863, shortly after the North invaded the Outer Banks—and with considerable Civil War experience under his belt, he joined the U.S. Life-Saving Service upon his return home from the war.  

Photo: Pinterest

Continuously faced with the grave and imminent danger posed by strong currents, rough seas and frequent storms off the North Carolina coast, the surfmen at Station 17 had their work cut out for them each day they reported for duty. Though Etheridge was, at one time, one of only eight African-Americans serving in the entire U.S. Life-Saving Service, his sharp skills and superior leadership abilities quickly led to his promotion, and he soon became the first black keeper to serve in the U.S. Life-Saving Service.

Etheridge and his all-black crew on Pea Island earned a reputation for operating “one of the tautest [life-saving stations] on the Carolina coast,” and made headlines when they rescued nine crew members off the E.S. Newman, a three-masted schooner that had veered 100 miles off course in a storm on Oct. 11, 1896. Etheridge and his fellow surfmen fought massive waves, pouring rain and blowing wind for hours on end as they repeatedly ventured into the ocean and back to the shore 10 times to save every sailor from the E.S. Newman—an effort for which the Station 17 crew was posthumously awarded a Gold Lifesaving Medal on the mission’s 100 anniversary in 1996.

Photo: Hatteras Realty

The Pea Island life-saving station, its crew and, most notably, its leader, keeper Richard Etheridge, played a pivotal role in the history of both the Outer Banks and the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which would later evolve into the modern-day United States Coast Guard. After 20 years of service at Station 17, Etheridge fell ill at the age of 58 and passed away in January 1900. The life-saving services provided by the station continued to be operated by an all-black crew until the end of World War II, and the station was officially decommissioned in 1947. Shortly after the turn of the 21st century, William Charles Bowser—one of the last living surfmen to serve at the station—passed away in June 2006, at the age of 91. In March 2010, Herbert Collins—the surfman who had secured the locks on Station 17 on the day it officially closed—also passed away.

Photo: Seaside Vacations Outer Banks

Although the life-saving station at Pea Island sat empty for decades and was left to deteriorate in the harsh conditions that characterize the desolate sandbar on the edge of the earth, the structure underwent an extension renovation in 2008. Stay tuned for our next story, which will highlight the renovations performed on this life-saving station that has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.