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The Right Hurricane Shutter Solution for Your Coastal Cottage

Photo: Pinterest

Whether you’re planning to build a custom cottage or you’ve recently purchased an existing home and intend to perform some renovations, if your new residence is in a coastal region you’ll need to decide if you want to outfit your home with hurricane shutters. From protecting your property from damaging winds and airborne objects to preventing intruders from accessing your home when it’s not in use, there are myriad benefits of hurricane shutters to take into consideration when designing your coastal cottage. However, because a variety of hurricane shutter options are available, it’s important to choose the right hurricane shutters to suit your specific set of needs when you are building or renovating the beach house of your dreams.

Photo: Shutter Outlet

There are four main types of hurricane shutters that are frequently used on coastal properties: roll-down shutters, bahama shutters, storm panel shutters and colonial shutters. Primarily used on commercial properties, storm panel shutters are designed for sliding glass doors or wide windows that span the entire length of a building’s wall. These hurricane shutters are typically designed to fasten into an upper track and a lower track, sliding open from right to left. Often made of galvanized steel, storm panel shutters offer some of the best protection against hurricanes and are usually placed on a property only when a storm is expected to hit. Although they provide exceptional security during a storm, storm panel shutters are not a permanent fixture on the home and require a bit of work to install each time a hurricane is in the forecast.

Photo: Pinterest

Unlike storm panel shutters, colonial shutters are an understated hurricane protection option that doesn’t detract from the visual appearance of your property—and once they are initially installed, they can be left on your coastal cottage all year long. Whereas storm panel shutters are typically kept in storage until the need to install them arises, colonial shutters are a permanent solution that only needs to be installed one time. They can also be purchased in a wide array of colors that enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property. Should a hurricane be headed your way, simply close the shutters over the windows until the threat of high winds has passed. Because they don’t need to be installed before a storm and taken down afterward, colonial shutters are the best choice for homeowners who want a hassle-free hurricane shutter solution for their property that also adds to the home’s curb appeal.

Photo: Hurricane Management Group

Similar in style and appearance to colonial shutters, bahama shutters are another popular hurricane shutter choice for homeowners who want to enhance the style of their house. While colonial shutters are placed on the right and left sides of a window, bahama shutters are situated at the top of the window. When closed, bahama shutters cover the window entirely from top to bottom; when “open,” they sit at a 45-degree angle, extending outward from the window and still partially covering the top half. Bahama shutters can add both a pop of color and some traditional island character to your property; however, the downside to this type of hurricane shutter is that they limit the amount of light that makes its way into your windows on a daily basis and can make it difficult to see outside unless you’re looking straight down.

Photo: Architectural Design Shutters

If you’re searching for a hassle-free hurricane shutter solution that doesn’t impact the design of your home or your ability to see your surroundings, the best choice for your property is probably a roll-down hurricane shutter. This popular storm-protection option is installed at the top of each window or door in a discreet bar that blends in with a home’s exterior. When a hurricane is on the horizon, simply use a manual crank on the inside of the home—or an electronic motor on upgraded options—to roll the shutter down from the top of the door or window until it fully covers the glass. Roll-down hurricane shutters offer excellent protection from wind, rain and flying objects, as well as top-notch security for your home when you are away and it’s not in use.

Photo: Pinterest

At the end of the day, determining which type of hurricane shutters are the right choice for your beach house all depends on how much protection your home requires during high winds and how much work you want to put into securing the shutters before a storm hits. But with so many options available, you’re sure to find hurricane shutters that will fit your home’s needs as well as your personal style and building budget.


The Mystery of The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island

Photo: Smithsonian Magazine

Few events in Outer Banks history are as famous as the disappearance of the first colony to attempt to settle on the sandbar in the 16th century. Although hundreds of years have passed since 117 men, women and children made the journey from the coast of England to the shores of Roanoke Island, the story of “The Lost Colony” still intrigues historians, archaeologists and visitors to the Outer Banks to this day.

Photo: National Park Service

In the summer of 1587—more than three decades before the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts and the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony—a group of settlers recruited by Sir Walter Raleigh landed on the northern tip of Roanoke Island in the present-day town of Manteo, North Carolina. Among the settlers were John White and his pregnant daughter, Eleanor Dare; her husband, Ananias Dare; and a man named Manteo, a Native American chief who had become an ally to the English during a previous visit to Britain.

A drawing of the baptism of Virginia Dare. Photo: Britannica

The settlers unloaded their belongings onto the island and repaired a fort that had been previously erected on the island during a settlement scouting mission a few years earlier. On August 18, 1587, Eleanor Dare gave birth to a daughter, who was named Virginia Dare. Virginia Dare would go down in history as the first English child to be born on American soil. Less than two weeks after the birth of his granddaughter, John White set sail for England with the promise of a quick return with additional supplies for the brand-new settlement in the New World. Little did White know that this would be the last time he ever saw his daughter, son-in-law and their new baby girl.

Photo: Old Salt Books

John White journeyed back to Britain, only to find himself faced with the imminent invasion of the Spanish Armada, and as a result he was forced to stay in England for nearly three years. When White finally made his way back to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and arrived at Roanoke Island on his granddaughter’s third birthday—August 18, 1590—he found the fort deserted and no signs of the family or other settlers he had left behind. According to historical reports, White described what he found upon his return to Roanoke Island as a settlement that was surrounded “with a high pallisado of great trees, with cortynes and flankers, very fort-like.”  

Photo: American Digest

When White searched for clues in his attempts to determine what had happened to the colony that had completely disappeared in the three years since he had last set foot on the island, he noticed a strange word carved into one of the wooden stakes within the fence that enclosed the fort: “CROATOAN.” On a nearby tree he found the letters “CRO” carved, and White came to the conclusion that the settlers had made the carvings to indicate the name of the place they were headed when they left the fort on Roanoke Island in a hurry and potentially under duress. Though White continued to search for his family and the missing colonists, a hurricane hindered his explorations and threatened to damage his ships, forcing him to return to England without ever knowing what had become of them.

Photo: The Archaeological Conservancy

For centuries, historians and archaeologists have attempted to determine the fate of the so-called “Lost Colony,” but few have found satisfactory answers, and to this day the mystery remains unsolved. As it turns out, Croatoan—the word carved into one of the fence posts enclosing the settlement—was the Native American name of an island on the Outer Banks to the south of Roanoke Island, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound. This island—today’s Hatteras Island—was the native home of Chief Manteo, and in 2015 archaeologists found various artifacts and “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” to support the theory that some of the settlers from the Lost Colony had indeed moved south to Hatteras Island where they eventually assimilated with members of the Croatoan Tribe of Native Americans who called this spot their home for hundreds of years.

Artifacts found during archaeological digs at the site of the Lost Colony. Photo: National Geographic

Although no one can say for sure what happened to the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island more than four centuries ago, investigations into the settlers’ disappearance continue today in hopes that one day the mystery of the Lost Colony can finally be solved for certain.  





Discover the Currituck Lighthouse in Historic Corolla Village

It may not be as famous as its Cape Hatteras Lighthouse counterpart in Buxton, but the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is an Outer Banks attraction that should be at the top of every visitor’s must-see list while vacationing on the island’s beaches. Constructed starting in 1873, the 162-foot-tall red-brick structure was the last major lighthouse to be built on the barrier islands along the coast of North Carolina. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is located in the heart of the historic village of Corolla in North Carolina’s Currituck County, and when the lighthouse was competed and lit for the very first time—on December 1, 1875—the beam of light it emitted into the night sky finally provided the long-awaited navigational aid mariners needed when sailing along the darkened waters of the northern Outer Banks.

For centuries, ships sailing along the Eastern Seaboard encountered difficulties navigating the treacherous shoals of the Graveyard of the Atlantic, causing many vessels to run aground and ultimately sink to the bottom of the sea floor. Before the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was constructed, the Bodie Island Lighthouse—a black-and-white striped structure located just north of Oregon Inlet on the southern edge of Nags Head—served as the only form of navigational assistance on the Outer Banks until sailors reached the Cape Hatteras Light Station more than 40 miles to the south.

This left a large expanse of dark and dangerous seashore from the Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach to Coquina Beach, 34 miles to the south in Nags Head. In an effort to better light the way for vessels traveling along the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, plans were drawn up to create the Currituck Beach Lighthouse and prevent future sailors from becoming disoriented as they passed just offshore of Corolla and Duck.

Photo; Stephanie Banfield

Comprising approximately one million red bricks, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is almost identical to the Bodie Island Lighthouse in design; however, it’s exterior was left unpainted in an attempt to differentiate it from its neighbor to the south so vessels sailing past in the daylight could easily spot and recognize the tower. The lighthouse has 220 steps that visitors must climb to reach the balcony, where they will be treated to panoramic views of the Currituck Sound (and neighboring Whalehead Club) to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the village of Corolla to the north and the town of Duck to the south. At its base, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse’s brick walls are 5 feet 8 inches thick, tapering to a thickness of 3 feet at the parapet.

Photo: Worldwide Elevation Finder

Known as a first order lighthouse, the structure is outfitted with a large Fresnel lens and emits a beacon of light that can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The beacon—which now turns on automatically as evening begins to fall and turns off at the first signs of dawn—is characterized by a 20-second flash cycle: on for three second and off for 17 seconds. In addition to warning mariners at sea that the shoreline is nearby and to keep a watchful eye on the coastline, the various light sequences that differentiate each lighthouse also inform sailors of their approximate location along the Outer Banks.  

Photo: Gary McCullough

Also located on the grounds of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is a Victorian-style home that was constructed adjacent to the lighthouse and designed to serve as a residence for the lighthouse keeper, assistant lighthouse keeper and their respective families. The residence was used for decades; however, when the lighthouse received access to electricity in 1933, there was no longer a need for a keeper to remain on-site. In 1937, the lighthouse keepers’ positions were eliminated entirely and the home began to slowly fall into a state of disrepair over the next 40 years.

Photo: CurrituckBeachLight.com

In 1980, a group of individuals dedicated to restoring the lighthouse keepers’ home, the lighthouse and the grounds to their former glory created a nonprofit organization called the Outer Banks Conservationists (OBC). The organization spent the next three decades raising over $1 million in private funds to go toward restorations of the lighthouse and keepers’ house, as well as the costs of future maintenance and operations.

Photo; CurrituckBeachLight.com

On July 1, 1990, the OBC was able to finally open the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to the public, and today this popular Outer Banks attraction receives thousands of visitors each year who stop by to take a self-guided tour of the grounds and a trip to the top of the historic structure to take in the incredible 360-degree views of the Outer Banks from above.

Photo: Megan Black/Seaside Vacations


The Mirlo Rescue on Hatteras Island

Nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” the coastline of the Outer Banks of North Carolina is sprinkled with thousands of shipwrecks that lie just offshore from Carova to Ocracoke Island. While many of the vessels that sank to the bottom of the sea ran aground in storms during the 17th and 18th centuries, others—such as a tanker called the Mirlo—were the victim of attacks as recently as World War I.  

Chicamacomico Historic Site & Museum / Photo: Scenic USA

A British tanker that weighed 6,667 tons and had a crew of 51 members, the Mirlo was carrying a cargo load of gasoline and oil from a port in New Orleans, Louisiana, to New York Harbor in August 1918. As the ship emerged from the Gulf of Mexico, rounded the Florida Keys and began making its way up the coast of the Eastern Seaboard, it became increasing exposed to the threat of enemy German submarines that had invaded U.S. shipping lanes during that spring and summer. Several ships were sunk by mines laid and torpedoes launched from the U-boats, putting Captain John Allen Midgett and his crew of surfmen at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station on Hatteras Island on guard should any ships be sunk off the Outer Banks. 

Photo: NCGenWeb.us

Located in the village of Rodanthe, toward the northern end of Hatteras Island, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was commissioned on Dec. 4, 1874, and home to the first shore-based rescue responders in the state of North Carolina. In the early afternoon on Aug. 16, 1918, the Mirlo struck a mine dropped by German U-boat 117 off Wimble Shoals, resulting in a series of explosions that destroyed the engine room and caused the cargo load of gasoline the ship was carrying to erupt into flames. Realizing that the boat was not salvageable, the captain ordered his crew to board the Mirlo’s three lifeboats and evacuate the sinking ship.

Photo: TripAdvisor
Photo: NPS.gov

The first lifeboat to leave the Mirlo capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, tossing all 16 of its passengers into the sea. When a third explosion erupted on the nearby Mirlo, all but six of the sailors who clung to the capsized lifeboat perished in the seas that were still rough from a recent storm. A second lifeboat contained 19 passengers and drifted helplessly amid the fiery gasoline-soaked seas while a third lifeboat, which carried 16 crewmen and the captain of the Mirlo, was able to clear the flaming wreckage and head toward the coastline of the Outer Banks.

The rescue that ensued has since been deemed one of the most dramatic rescues in maritime history. A Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station lookout named Leroy Midgett was in his post when the Mirlo first exploded and notified Captain John Allen Midgett Jr. of the attack. The alarm was sounded, and the crew raced to the stables to harness the team of horses, rode to the station and readied the McLellen Boat wagon that carried the rescue boat: Surfboat No. 1046. The crew put the surfboat into the ocean and fought their way through strong offshore winds and crashing waves with heights up to 20 feet to attempt to reach the crew members of the Mirlo who were stranded in lifeboats off the coast.

Photo: OuterBanks.com

The huge breakers overwashing the surfboat ultimately flooded the small vessel before it could reach the crew of the shipwrecked Mirlo, forcing it to return to the shore to be drained. Two relaunches were attempted, but the breaking waves were too large and too strong, and the surfmen from the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station were unable to get the surfboat past the breakers. The rescue crew tried a fourth launch, which was ultimately successful, allowing the boat to clear the rough waves and make it through the surf into the open waters where the Mirlo crew was stranded near the burning wreckage of the tanker approximately five miles off the coast of Rodanthe.

The Chicamacomico rescue crew reportedly first encountered the lifeboat that contained the Mirlo’s captain, who instructed the rescuers to bypass their boat and search instead for the survivors of the boat that had capsized after the explosion. Pushing through flames that shot 100 feet in the air from exploding barrels of gasoline that had been aboard the Mirlo, the rescue crew pressed on until they reached the capsized lifeboat—and found a handful of survivors clinging to the overturn boat in the smoke and rough seas. According to accounts by the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, the six surviving men were exhausted from the ordeal and coated in oil. The Chicamacomico rescue crew pulled the sailors from the sea and continued their search for any remaining survivors in the other lifeboat.

Captain John Allen Midgett Jr.

Once the lifeboat was spotted, the rescue crew realized that the vessel was extremely overloaded, leaving it so crowded that the men aboard could not move enough to row it toward the shore. Instead, it was drifting out to sea. The Chicamacomico crew pulled their surfboat alongside the lifeboat, tossing a line aboard so the lifeboat could be towed to safety. The crew then headed back to the spot where they had encountered the Mirlo captain’s lifeboat and been instructed to move on to save those in more immediate danger and provided a tow for that lifeboat as well.

As darkness fell on the coast of the Outer Banks, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station rescue crew towed the two lifeboats toward Hatteras Island, ultimately saving the lives of 36 sailors from the sunken Mirlo tanker. Later that fall, on Nov. 8, 1921, Captain Midgett and his crew of surfmen were awarded gold lifesaving medals for “gallantry and humanity in saving life at sea” by the British government for their incredible efforts to save the lives of dozens of sailors who were aboard the Mirlo when it was destroyed by German forces. Today, surfboat No. 1046 and an assortment of photos, artifacts and replica equipment can be viewed at the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Historic Site and Museum in Rodanthe.



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