Southern Shores and Beach Nourishment

From Spencer Rogers presentation: a top ten need to know nourishment list.
From Spencer Rogers presentation: a top ten need to know nourishment list.

Is Southern Shores moving toward nourishment for its beaches?

The Town Council has not taken a vote yet, but if public sentiment is any indication, about a half mile of beach on the southern end of the town where it borders on Kitty Hawk will be nourished.

That is the sentiment that seemed to emerge from an informational forum the town held at the Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday evening.

The forum consisted of five speakers and a public comment period. Although there was some opposition to from the audience, most of the speakers favored the idea.

With historically stable beaches, Southern Shores chose not to participate in the intra-county plan to nourish beaches in Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. However, over the past seven years, the shoreline in front of Pelican Watch has retreated almost 120’ and properties in the subdivision are threatened.

Although there had been concern about the beach in that area, Hurricane Matthew caused so much loss of dune and beach, residents felt something had to be done.

Hoping to Piggyback

What Southern Shores is hoping to do is piggyback on the already planned project in Kitty Hawk. Slated to begin in June, if Southern Shores does vote to proceed and is able to get the necessary permits, the cost savings would be huge.

The savings would be realized because equipment is already in place and the amount of additional sand that would have to be pumped onto the beach is relatively minor. The current plan calls for a taper area extending into Southern Shores. Additional sand would widen the beach in the taper area and move the taper north.

What the Experts Said

The speakers were four scientists, Spencer Rogers of Sea Grant, Reide Corbett for the Coastal Studies Institute, Tim Kana of Coastal Studies Engineering and Ken Wilson from Coastal Planning & Engineering. Former Nags Head Mayor Bob Oakes was also on hand to discuss the town’s experience with nourishment. Nags Head is the only town on the Outer Banks that has nourished its beaches.

The consensus among the speakers was that beach nourishment is an effective mitigation tool for the protection of shorelines, but it is not a one size fits all solution.

The scientists did address the situation at Pelican Watch directly, indicating beach nourishment would give at least a temporary reprieve from the encroaching ocean. However, there was also agreement that longer term studies and observations would have to be done to determine if nourishment was a long term solution.

The forum was extremely well attended with over 250 members of the public on hand.

Outer Banks Humpback Whale Highway

Humpback Whale migration patterns. Note how close to the Outer Banks the whales come.
Humpback Whale migration patterns. Note how close to the Outer Banks the whales come.

Sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean the way the Outer Banks does, there is a sense that nature is passing right by our doorstep. This winter we seem to be getting an amazing sample of the wonders of the sea.

Humpback whales have always migrated past the Outer Banks, and there have been a couple of sightings this winter. The whales are headed for the Caribbean where they mate, give birth and nurse the calves. Not all in the same year; the humpback whale gestation period is 11 months.

Interestingly when they get to the Caribbean, the whales eat little if anything, living off their blubber.

As they pass North Carolina, they do feed. They are filter feeders, meaning they have baleen instead of teeth. Most of their food is plankton and krill, but unlike any other members of the whale baleen family, they do eat small fish, consuming about one to two tons daily.

The populations of humpbacks have been recovering. At one time the Maine group had less than 500 whales. Estimates now put the population at 900-1000.

Because they pass so close to the Outer Banks as they migrate—north and south—we do, from time to time have a whale wash up on our beaches, and that just happened in Southern Shores.

This particular whale is probably a juvenile. It’s reported to be 30’ long and adults are between 40-60’.

The whale will be examined to see if the cause of death can be determined.

Over the past 20 year there have been more whales washing up on Outer Banks beaches than in the past. It’s still a very rare occurrence—five or six time a year. But that is still more frequent than was recorded in the 1970s and 1980s. That is for all species of whales, since there are other types of whales that pass by the Outer Banks.

There are a number of theories about what is causing the increase. A rebound in whale populations is probably a part of that, but there may be environmental factors as well, although to date, nothing has been established.

Outer Banks Wedding Expo Opens This Weekend

Outer Banks Wedding Expo coming Saturday and Sunday January 13, 14.
Outer Banks Wedding Expo coming Saturday and Sunday January 13, 14.

The Outer Banks—beautiful and romantic—has become one of the most popular wedding destinations on the East Coast.

As its popularity has grown so has a wide variety of professionals have found a home on the Outer Banks specializing in making that special day a dream come true.

The 19th Annual Wedding Expo is this weekend at First Flight High School and First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills. The events may be held in the local schools, but the pros on hand have become masters at transforming the space into something magical.

Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and effort and with so many vendors and services gathered together at one time, there is a great opportunity to get to see the most Outer Banks wedding professionals gathered together in a single location.

There are over 200 vendors on hand and tours of wedding venues are also offered. However, with so much to do and so many people to see some pre-planning is helpful.

Things to Know


Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Sunday 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Shuttle busses run between the schools and they run very frequently

Some Advice

Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved. The high school area extends through what would be a cafeteria to a large gym. The middle school is not quite as extensive, but it does cover a lot of area.

Take a good appetite. There are a lot of restaurants, food and drink vendors and caterers on hand. All of them are handing out samples and the sample are very good.

Take notes. This is really important. With 200 vendors on hand, it is simply not possible to remember every conversation and every impression.

Have fun. This is all about planning an event that will begin what will hopefully be a happy life together. Have some fun with it and remember to laugh.

Cold & Snow Bring OBX Magic to Corolla

Whalehead Club boathouse with the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in the snow.
Whalehead Club boathouse with the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in the snow.

It snowed yesterday on the Outer Banks an it’s cold today. By any standards, it’s cold. The daytime temperatures struggled to make to 25 degrees and there was a brisk northwest wind all day to make it seem more like 12 or 15.

Even though we didn’t get much snow there wasn’t much melting. From the Village of Duck and south it was really just a coating, and it’s still laying in the ground.

North of Duck, though, it did snow.

Everything started as a cold rain on Friday night, but by early afternoon, the Village of Corolla looked like a scene from a Currier and Ives New England lithograph from the 19th century.

North of the village the maritime forest of the Currituck Banks Estuarine Reserve lost the vibrant green of summer beneath a blanket of white. There were reports that some of the Corolla Wild Horse herd was wandering through the woods, scraping the snow from grasses and plants; taking shelter, no doubt, from the wind.

The wind was a howling merciless foe along the sound. Looking into the wind, the snow—with a little bit of sleet mixed in—was painful to face. And no amount of layers or winter clothing could stop the cold from seeping through.

Yet it was undeniably beautiful.

It was snowing so hard in the afternoon that it looks as though a haze had fallen over Corolla. From the Whalehead Club, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse which usually looms over the grounds, became a towering shadow, its brick red walls an indistinct gray in the snow.

There was almost no one out during the afternoon; the wind, the cold and the snow were an effective deterrent to spending much time outside. With so few people about, there were no footprints in the snow, and no sound except for the wind and the music of falling snow.

The snow and cold weather is a temporary thing—jutting out into the ocean as the Outer Banks does temperatures rarely stay below freezing for long. But for one day at least, there was winter magic in the Village of Corolla.

Dog Friendly Rules for Enjoying OBX Beaches

Along with being a family-friendly place the Outer Banks is also dog-friendly.

For our visitors Joe Lamb, Jr. offers a great selection of pet friendly homes, and for visitors and residents Outer Banks beaches and towns offer plenty of opportunity to take four-legged family members to the beach.

There are some restrictions and it’s important to know what they are. The rules also change from town to town so know your location.

There are amendments from time to time the rules governing when dogs are allowed on our beaches. As an example, the town of Kill Devil Hills just added two months when dogs are allowed on the beach. The only restrictions at this point in time in Kill Devil Hills are the cannot be on the beach during the daytime during the summer.

Here’s a quick rundown of the local rules when it come to dogs on our beaches.

Cape Hatteras Seashore

Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round as long as they are restrained by a leash of 6 feet or less. They are restricted from designated swim beaches such as Coquina Beach and buildings.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round as long as they are restrained by a leash of 6 feet or less. Pets must not disturb wildlife and must be under the physical control of the owner at all times.

Nags Head

Dogs must be on a leash, but there are no other restrictions.

Kill Devil Hills

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day no dogs are allowed on the beach between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Dogs are permitted on the beach at all other times of the year, but they must be on a leash.

Kitty Hawk

During the summer, from the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day dogs can be on the beach beach. Between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. they must be on a leash that is no longer than 6’. At all other times, dogs can be off the leash but must be within 30’ of the owner and the owner must have a leash with them.

Southern Shores

Southern Shores has a leash ordinance and dogs must be on a leash at all times. From May 15 to Sept. 15 dogs are not permitted on the beach between 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.


Dogs are allowed on the beach and they can be unleashed, but owners are responsible for their pet’s actions. In the town park and public areas dogs must be leashed.


Dogs are allowed on the beach year round but must be on a leash at all times.

A Mostly Good 2016 Year in Review

2017-a mostly good year.
2016-a mostly good year.

2016 was certainly an interesting year. Most of it was really positive and and there is not doubt the Outer Banks is still the best place anywhere for a family vacation.

Some of the headlines, though, were not as pleasant as others, and a lot of those unpleasant headlines were all about the weather.

From cold-stunned turtles in January to the surprise visit from a powerful Hurricane Matthew, the weather was in the headlines on the Outer Banks.

Still, it was a good year on the Outer Bank. Here are some of the highlights…and yes, the lowlights of the weather.

Replacement for Bonner Bridge Breaks Ground
Ground breaking for the Bonner Bridge.
Ground breaking for the Bonner Bridge.

Long overdue, but at long last the replacement span for the Bonner Bridge is finally moving forward. Here’s what we wrote:

“Three years from now and a few hundred million dollars later, a replacement span for the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet will finally be in place. Today marked the official beginning of the process as politicians came from Raleigh and Washington, DC to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new bridge.”

100th Anniversary of the National Park Service-New Citizens Welcomed
Receiving the certificate of citizenship.
Receiving the certificate of citizenship.

With such a large presence on the Outer Banks, the centennial of the National Park Service was important. There were a number of special events in conjunction with the celebration, none more compelling than a swearing in ceremony for new citizens.

“Thirty-nine new citizens were welcomed to the Outer Banks yesterday at a swearing in ceremony at the Wright Brothers Memorial.

It was an amazing event—emotional, awe-inspiring and perhaps a little bit intimidating with the realization of what these newest Americans coming from 23 countries have gone through to follow their dream.”

Roanoke Island Aquarium Gets a Facelift
Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.
Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.

Delayed a year to get the budget for renovations in shape, the payoff was a spectacular result.

“After a false start and a couple of construction delays, the renovation of the Roanoke Island Aquarium–the Outer Banks only aquarium–is almost complete. It’s open now and even though a couple of the exhibits aren’t quite ready yet, what there is a really exciting.”

The Weather

The weather for 2016 can easily summed up. When it was good it was very good. When it was bad, it was very bad

Cold Stunned Turtles Early January

loggerhead turtle
Cold Stunned Loggerhead at Roanoke Island STAR Center

“The STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium was designed as a care facility for injured and sick sea turtles, but never anything on this level. The problem, according to Christine Legner who oversees the facility, with all the warm weather, the turtles “ . . . just didn’t get the cue to leave.”

Tropical Storm Hermine

“It looks as though we have another day of high surf battering the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Hermine spins away out in the Atlantic. All sign point to her meandering a bit and then moving out to sea, but it does look as though tomorrow, Monday, is not going to be a good beach day.”

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew was an unwelcome and unpleasant surprise. We knew it was going to rain a lot; we knew the winds were going to be strong, but the Outer Banks seemed to get more than expected.

Publix Super Markets Outer Banks Bound

Publix Super Markets of Florida announced they will be opening a store in Kill Devil Hills.
Publix Super Markets of Florida announced they will be opening a store in Kill Devil Hills.

Confirming months of rumors, Publix Super Markets of Florida announced on Wednesday that they had signed a lease to build a store next to Lowe’s Home Improvement in Kill Devil Hills.

Speculation about who would be moving into the 5-acre lot had been the subject of speculation since Kill Devil Hills commissioners approved a site plan for a grocery store in September. Already zoned for commercial development, the site plan did not require a public hearing.

Although not confirmed until the announcement, the feeling was that the site would be a Publix. The developer, GHK, who applied for the site plan has built two stores in North Carolina for the Florida-based company.

Publix, with a reputation for excellent customer service and employee relations, joins a growing number of supermarket retailers on the Outer Banks. Scheduled for completion in 2018, when the store opens its doors, it will compete against the established stores of Food Lion, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market and the Walmart Supercenter.

Publix may not be the only grocery retailer joining the Outer Banks supermarket mix.

In late August of this year, restauranteur Mike Kelly confirmed that he is in negotiations to sell the five acre lot that is home to Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in Nags Head. When he announced the negotiations, he specifically refused to say who the suitor was but did state that the site would not be home to a chain restaurant.

Identical in size to the lot that Publix will be opening, the Kelly property would be one of the last large lots available for commercial development along US 158, the Bypass.

In his August statement Kelly indicated he felt negotiations would be completed by this month, but to date no further information has been offered.

According to Publix the store will be 45,000 square feet, which is currently the average size of a supermarket in the US. Tentative plans call for about 140 employees.

Outer Banks Holidays-A Gift to Ourselves

jlmerchrChristmas 2016 wasn’t a very exciting day on the Outer Banks…except for the squeals of delight from children finding a perfect gift under tree.

It seemed almost deserted by the afternoon. There were almost no cars on the our streets and only few convenience stores were open.

Driveways, though were filled with cars and families poured out of their vehicles and into hugs and cries of joy of families reuniting.

When the Holiday Season is described as magical, perhaps this is what is meant—that the magic of families reuniting and the joy of children is a balm to concerns of everyday life. Perhaps the greatest gift is the gift we give ourselves, the knowledge that it is possible to know the simple joys of life and that for at least for one day or perhaps one week, it truly is a part of who we are.

Stores will open tomorrow. Bars and restaurants will be ready of locals and visitors who have come to the Outer Banks.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Yet there remains a lingering sense of joy and shared experience that stays with us for days after the holidays—whether the holiday being celebrated at this time of the year is Christmas or Chanukah.

It’s a wonderful topic of conversation that seems to be almost be a greeting for the next few days.

In that way, the Outer Banks is much like any other place. We love talking about gifts and gift giving. We are happiest when we know that family is near, and the holiday season is a time to remember what is truly important in life.

The Outer Banks is truly a beautiful and unique place to live and visit. There is a splendor to the forces of nature at work here that is unlike any other place on earth.

The people who live here, though, and our visitors who come to enjoy an experience like on other, are like people everywhere—seeking the love of family and beauty of nature.

From the staff at Joe Lamb, Jr. to our friends and families everywhere, we wish you the very best this holiday season.

Christmas is Coming-Outer Banks Things To Do

Queen Elizabeth II at Christmas. Seen from Shallowbag Bay beside Poor Richard's in Manteo.
Queen Elizabeth II at Christmas. Seen from Shallowbag Bay beside Poor Richard’s in Manteo.

Christmas is almost here and our Outer Banks roads are filling up with out of state license plates. Of course some of the families from outside the area staying in our homes are the homeowners who have made coming to the Outer Banks for the holidays a part of their annual traditions.

This year is a little bit different than other years with Christmas falling on Sunday. The last time that happened was 2005, and when it does fall on a Sunday, a lot of our visitors take advantage of the week that schools are out and spend a week with us.

With a little midwinter time on their hands, a lot of our visitors might be hoping for a night out and even though it’s not summer, there are still things to do on the Outer Banks. Not quite as much as during the summer, but the sidewalks have not been rolled up.

Here’s a quick—and certainly incomplete—list of places that feature live music year around. Be sure to check their schedules to see if something is on tap and who will be there.


MP 4.5 Bypass, Kitty Hawk, NC


Huge wine selection, more than 30 beers on tap, wonderful cheese plates and sandwiches—there’s a reason why Trio has become one of the favorite gathering places on the OuterBanks.

Roosters Southern Kitchen

MP 8.75 Bypass, Kill Devil Hills


Great selection of bar drinks, very nice wine list and excellent food. The music is acoustic, a very nice, perfect for the atmosphere.

Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern

MP 10.5 Bypass, Nags Head


The original Outer Banks nightspot. There is almost always something happening in the bar—live music, DJs and karaoke an open mic on Tuesdays. This is the place to go to dance the night away.

Poor Richards

303 Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo


On the waterfront in downtown Manteo, a great little bar with an almost college town feel when there’s live music. It can get really tight in the bar sometimes, but the beer is reasonably priced and the sandwiches excellent.

Celebrating Heroes, Celebrating Flight at Wright Memorial

Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral Zukunft.
Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral Zukunft.

We had one of the best Celebrations of Flight at the Wright Brothers Memorial we’ve had in a while.

The annual event held on December 17, marking the date of the Wright Brothers first flight, is held a the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.

It’s a time to recall the heroes of flight. This year the honorees were the first two Coast Guard helicopter pilots, Captain Erikson and Commander Graham.

Erikson graduated first in 1940s and Graham soon after in 1943. Both were personally trained by helicopter pioneer Igor Sikorsky.

How and what a helicopter could do was a blank slate at that time and almost everything we now take for granted that rotary wing aircraft can do was done first by Erikson and Graham.

Telling their story was Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral Zukunft.

Mixing humor with good story telling, he laid out both what Erikson and Graham accomplished and how it has led to the modern use of helicopters.

Frank Erikson was the first person to use a helicopter to pull someone from the sea using a hoist. That first hoist, Admiral Zukunft mentioned was a tow truck hoist.

He brought that into the present, talking about the many lives the Coast Guard has saved, describing the sound of the whirr of the helicopter as the sound of God to someone being rescued at sea.

As it turns out, the Outer Banks did figure in some of the helicopter firsts. The first aerial delivery of mail by a helicopter was flown by Graham, flying mail from Elizabeth City to Hatteras.

Perhaps more significantly, Commander Graham flew the first night helicopter medical evacuation in December of 1947, flying a patient from Cape Hatteras to the hospital in Elizabeth City. According to his notes, he flew along the coast, using the bioluminescence of the breaking waves until he could see the lights of Elizabeth City.

This really was one of the more interesting Celebrations of Flight. It was a bit disappointing that the hoped for flyover of Coast Guard aircraft could not be accomplished.

The weather at the Wright Brothers Memorial was fine, but at Elizabeth City where the aircraft was stationed it was foggy with a very low ceiling. One twin engine Coast Guard plane did make the flight, but we didn’t see any others.