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Mixed Review for Cristobal Waves on the Outer Banks

We were hoping for better quality waves as Hurricane Cristobal passed a few hundred miles offshore, but the winds from the north never did let up. The waves were there, but with the 6’ break came a lot of chop and some sloppy conditions.

The day wasn’t a complete waste for surfers though. There were a few SUPs riding waves and a couple of surfers got some great rides. A tough trip back to the line though with waves coming in at odd angles on the paddle back out.

It was a great day for kite surfers though. With the winds from the NNE at 15-20 mph and some very rideable waves, the kite surfers we saw seemed to be having the best day on the water.

We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best. The early forecast calls for some more good waves through tomorrow with gradually diminishing winds. Best time for waves should be in the a.m. although the wind is forecast to remain from the north throughout the morning. 


Surfing for Autism on the Outer Banks

It’s been five years for the annual Surfing for Autism at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head and the event has gained in popularity every year. This year, organizers, said 80 families and maybe a little more than that were in the surf.

It is a free event, as it has always been, and it’s all about giving the kids an experience they could never have otherwise. Yet in watching the families . . . the parents and siblings—and even the spectators—what becomes apparent tis that this event is something that touches everyone.

Great weather this year. A warm day, but certainly not hot, a little bit of chop in the surf but some nice small waves were popping up all day.

Surfing for Autism is a homegrown affair, started by two parents, Mark Slagle and Eileen Lowery, who had children who were autistic.

 The event, which couples experienced surfers—a couple of them are ranked pros—with children living with autism began as a free event and there has never been a charge for it. There never will be either, as the literature put out by Surfing for Autism makes clear: “Because raising a child with autism today has been shown to cost $3.2 million, we also wanted our event to be offered at no cost to participating families.”

Just a good homegrown Outer Banks event and a great day on the beach.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

American Black Bear family in Aligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo, USFW.


As a barrier island system, the Outer Banks is unlike any other barrier Island system in the world. It’s longer and at its greatest distance from the mainland, it is a farther from the continent that any other similar system.

But as different as the Outer Banks may be, the land immediately to its west is equally as unique. 

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is about to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary, and the refuge is a seldom visited but remarkable example of how nature adapts to almost any environment.

Huge—at 154,000 acres, it is the second largest refuge on the East Coast (Okefenokee is larger)—it spreads across mainland Dare County and northern Hyde County. 

The environment is a pocosin ecology—a word that means raised swamp in the Algonquin language. Poorly drained and nutrient deficient, the swamps nonetheless, support an extraordinary diversity of life . . . including the American alligator. There is also a thriving black bear population, the only red wolf population in the wild anywhere, a subspecies of deer that has adapted to the scarcity of food by remaining small and an extraordinary array of birds.

Alligator River is jointly administrated with Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the northern end of Hatteras Island. The Visitor Center is on old US 64 about two miles past downtown Manteo.

An Outer Banks 911 Message-Know Your Street Address

The Outer Banks 911 system has shown itself to be as good as any emergency responders anywhere, but they cannot respond to an emergency if they don't know where the emergency is. As this video posted on the Dare County Government Youtube channel makes clear, knowing the street address of a vacation home can be a lifesaver.

33rd Annual New World Festival of the Arts

David Graves and his hand-crafted spriral flutes.

The 33rd Annual New World Festival of the Arts was yesterday and today in Manteo, and it would be tough to imagine a more perfect setting or perfect day for an outdoor art exhibition.

Located in Manteo where the town meets Shallow Bag Bay, it looked like there was a good 80 or 85 exhibiters on hand showing everything from original art, to jewelry, pottery and even a booth with handcrafted flutes.

Although the overall quality and creativity of the art a the show was outstanding, there is always something that stands out as truly different, and this year the spiral flutes by David Graves fell into that category. 

A simple, almost primitive design, the flutes are patterned after Native American concepts. Hand-crafted by Graves who lives in the Gainesville, Florida area, the flutes are made from river cane, a North American bamboo.

The sound of the flutes is haunting and beautiful and although there area only six finger holes, as David explained the variety of notes runs into the 100s.

For the previous 32 years, Eddie Greene of the Christmas Shop has been the driving force behind the show, but over the winter he approached the winter he approached the Dare County Arts Council and asked if they would take the reins.

Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival, Fun, Fun, Fun

For as long as anyone who has lived or visited the Outer Banks can recall, there has been a Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival at the main store in Nags Head. It can’t be longer than 40 years ago, because that’s how old KHK is, but the festival started sometime in its early days.

It’s a wonderful day . . . how can anyone criticize a festival that includes watermelon bowling, an ice cream eating contest, watermelon construction projects and of course a watermelon seed spitting contest.

And of course, face painting. We’re not talking about a single rose on a cheek; this is the “whole-face painting”—kids walking around looking like their ready for a street mime show.

Kitty Hawk Kites has built a reputation on being a great place to take kids and the Watermelon Festival is all part of that. Every Wednesday during the summer, it’s kid’s day—and they spread that around to a number of their stores, although the largest and most extensive is by far at their Nags Head location.

But today belonged to the Watermelon Contest . . . a day to make kids giggle and parents smile—and if they weren’t smiling after a couple of minutes, well, the maybe they need to remember what it’s like to be a kid again.

A Quick Guide to Local Seafood Markets

There is a reason why almost every restaurant on the Outer Banks features fresh seafood—Wanchese, on Roanoke Island, is a very busy commercial fishing port. That being the case, there are number of seafood markets carrying the local fisherman’s catch. Here’s a few of them.

In Nags Head check out either Daniels' Whalebone Seafood Market or Austin’s Seafood Company.

Daniels is on the Bypass just a little north of the intersection of US64 and the Bypass. Always very clean in appearance with a good selection. The Daniels family is one of the original Outer Banks settlers.

Jimmy Austin started selling seafood about 1960 and back then he was the only one doing it on the Outer Banks. Entering the market, there is no doubt this is a family business. Great selection and a lot of knowledge. 

Billy’s Seafood is on Colington Road just past the first bridge, so it’s a little bit out of the way, but make the effort. When Guy Fieri was on the Outer Banks, this is where he came for fresh crab. Definitely a seafood store, but a good selection of convenience items as well.

Carawan Seafood in Kitty Hawk has been around almost as long as Austin’s. Easy to find, it’s the beat-up looking building in front of the Walmart Shopping Center. Very much a family business, look for a great selection of seafood and a staff who knows what they’re talking about. 

For our guests staying in Duck, check out Dockside n’ Duck Seafood Market. The market is owned by the Newbern family, one of the more prominent farming families in Currituck County—and as it happens, they also have some commercial fishermen in the family tree. Local catch from the family nets supplemented with what is being landed in Wanchese. Green Acres Farm Market which is right by the road is owned by the Newberns and features just picked produce from their farm.


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