Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area Puts Clean Energy in Outer Banks Future

Avangrid map showing Kitty Hawk WEA. Duck and Corolla are closest Outer Banks sites. Power would go to Virginia then back to North Carolina.
Avangrid map showing Kitty Hawk WEA. Duck and Corolla are closest Outer Banks sites. Power would go to Virginia then back to North Carolina.

There is energy production in the Outer Banks future. Clean energy, actually. Not oil, but a known resource just waiting to be exploited.

It’s wind energy. Twenty-seven miles off the coast of the northern Outer Banks there is an area called the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA). 

Looking at it on a map, it doesn’t look all that large. Look at the statistics and its massive—122,405 acre (191 sq. miles). It is not its size that is drawing attention, however. It is the potential that it holds. The numbers are still theoretical, but there should be enough wind energy in the WEA to power between  500,000 and 700,000 homes.

No other WEA on the East Coast can match that. In fact, if fully developed it would be one of the largest in the world.

The journey from being identified as a WEA to energy production is a long and complicated journey though, and the first steps in what will be a multi-year process have just happened.

Because the Kitty Hawk WEA is outside the waters North Carolina controls, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) controls how it will be developed and who will develop it.

To their credit, BOEM worked closely with North Carolina in determining where the WEA was placed. As an example, one reason the eastern boundary of the site is 27 miles from shore is because of concerns about how people would react seeing turbines spinning in the wind during their stay on the Outer Banks.

After establishing the WEA, BOEM puts the site out for a lease bid. That was in 2016 and there was a lot of interest from some of the biggest names in wind energy.

The winning bid went to Avangrid Renewables for a little bit more than $9 million in March of 2019. 

Avangrid has not yet begun developing the area, although they are doing extensive survey work to determine the best placement for turbines and the specific areas of strongest and most consistent winds.

A subsidiary of a large Spanish energy firm, Avangrid already has a footprint in northeastern North Carolina. In partnership with Amazon, they developed a 208 MW wind farm in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties outside of Elizabeth City.

Will there be energy generated from the Kitty Hawk WEA? At some point probably; the potential is simply too great to not develop. 

But under the best of circumstances, if everything comest together perfectly, it will be five, and more likely six years before the first kilowatt of power flows from the Atlantic Ocean to the shore.

When the first Environmental Assessment of the Kitty Hawk WEA was announced in 2012, there were no offshore wind farms in US waters. In 2016 the first, and still only, offshore wind farm off  Block Island, Rhode Island began generating energy. A little less than five miles offshore, the site consists of five turbines generating 6MW of energy, enough to power Block Island which had been dependent on diesel generators.

Avangrid does not yet have a buyer for the energy Kitty Hawk would produce, but a number of factors make the project very attractive.

The price of wind energy had dropped significantly since Block Island came on line. Block Island is producing energy at  $.25/kwh. The national average is a little over $.13/kwh making that project very expensive. But the cost of producing offshore wind energy has plummeted, and is now under $.10/kwh, significantly less than the national average.

Bringing the Cost Down

The latest in blade design for offshore wind energy. A 350' blade under construction in France.
The latest in blade design for offshore wind energy. A 350′ blade under construction in France.

There are a number of reasons for that. The cost of construction has fallen as more is learned about how to build the platforms for the turbines. There has been remarkable improvements in the durability of the turbines, lowering maintenance and replacement costs.

The biggest improvement, though, has been in blade design. Four or five years ago, turbine blades were 250’ and capable of generating 7MW. The latest generation are 350’ and are capable of generating 12MW of energy. They will also operate in lower winds.

For the Kitty Hawk WEA to come on line there are still a number of significant hurdles to leap. There are going to be environmental hearings on the siting of the platforms. Bringing the energy to shore may be the biggest engineering problem to address. The nearest location that could handle the amount of expected energy is in Virginia Beach,70 miles from the WEA.

It does seem as though the stars are aligning, although it may be another five, six or maybe even seven years. But wind energy from the Outer Banks seems likely. 

Dreaming of ocean breezes and soft sand? Turn that dream into reality with Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates.

The Beach-Is There One that is the Best on the Outer Banks?

Kitty Hawk Beach in the summertime.
Kitty Hawk Beach in the summertime.

People are always asking us, “What is your favorite Outer Banks beach?” 

It’s a tough question to answer, because the truth is, we don’t have one.

When it comes to the beach, or at least an Outer Banks beaches, all of them have a some characteristics in common. From Carova to Ocracoke all of our beaches have a nice soft sand and especially now that so many have been nourished, they tend to be fairly wide. Although there are some exceptions, for the most part, Outer Banks beaches are pretty easy to get to.

All North Carolina ocean beaches are in the public domain, meaning anyone can use the beach when they are on it. Access to the beach, however, is not a public right, and crossing private property to get to the beach is trespassing. Please use public access to get on the beach.

Rather than call out specific beaches, we thought it would be better to give a more general description of each area and what the beaches in each area have to offer.


From the southern border of Currituck County at the Sanderling in Duck or where the NC 12 pavement ends north of the Village of Corolla, there’s about 12 miles of wonderful, soft sand.

Currituck County provides four parking areas for beach access. By far the largest is the southern access off Yaupon Road, a little bit south of the Harris Teeter shopping center.

The bathhouse at this access is wonderful. Large and well-maintained, there are a good number of outdoor showers and a fairly large parking area.

One thing to be aware of though, it is a fairly long trek to the beach; about a quarter of a mile, although there is a boardwalk that makes things easier. However, this is one of the best beaches anywhere with a lot of room between the sea and the dunes. 

Farther north in the more built up areas of Corolla, parking for beach access is either immediately adjacent to the dunes or across the street.

Something for parents with younger children to consider, the Albacore Beach Access is very close to the Food Lion in Monterey Plaza, and is the closest to retail stores and businesses.

The beach tends to be a bit wider farther south than on the north end toward Carova.

Carova is the 4WD area of the Currituck Banks, north of Corolla. It’s’ a very nice beach but be aware, the beach is the road in this area. If you do decide to drive to Carova to enjoy the beach, Currituck County does require a permit to park on the beach.

Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head

These three towns, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head are actually the core of the traditional Outer Banks vacation spots. They are the most built up and because of that, they will have more businesses, stores and services within easy walking distance than other areas.

Kitty Hawk has the name recognition. Kill Devil Hills is actually the largest town on the Outer Banks. And Nags Head is where it all began–the first tourists started coming to Nags Head in the 1820s.

There are too many parking areas and beach access points to note them all. Look for the CAMA Beach Access sign. Generally that denotes a parking lot for the beach, although sometimes it’s simply an access point with parking elsewhere.

Beach access sign.
Beach access sign.

All of the beaches in this area have been nourished and they are in very good condition, and we don’t have a clear favorite at all. 

The widest beach is probably south of Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. It is a great location for families. The bathhouse is large and well-maintained and there are a couple of places very close by for food and beach necessities. That area is also a popular surfing site.

Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, South Nags Head

We had to include Coquina Beach. The entrance is directly across from the entrance to Bodie Island Lighthouse about a mile and a half south of the intersection of Old Oregon Inlet Road and NC 12, which is considered South Nags Head.

This is very much the original look to the Outer Banks. Not a home in sight; rolling sand dunes covered in sea grass; and a beautiful beach.

The parking lot is huge and there is a wind powered bathhouse with showers.

We highly recommend this beach—it is absolutely beautiful. But, be sure to take everything you’re going to need. The nearest businesses, stores or restaurants are at least four or five miles away.

About Duck and Southern Shores

We haven’t included the towns of Duck or Southern Shores for a reason. Their beaches are wonderful, but access to their beaches is permit only for property owners. People renting in a home in those towns do have permission to use the beach.

A recent lawsuit in the town of Duck may allow public access, although that ruling may be appealed.

Are you ready for summer? Here at Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates we’re gearing up and can’t wait to hear from you.

Dare County Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary–History and Culture Will Be Featured

Dare County Courthouse as it appeared in 1904 when it was built.
Dare County Courthouse as it appeared in 1904 when it was built.

The 150th anniversary of the founding of Dare County happened just a few days ago. There will be a full year’s worth celebrations to mark the event.

When it was created there wasn’t much here, which has a lot to do with why Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties were willing to give up small pieces of their land to form the new county.

Named for Virginia Dare, when it was created the new county was a far flung sliver of swamp, maritime forest and barrier islands. The closest town to a central place was Manteo, so it became the county seat.

It was smaller than it is today. When it was created the northern border was just about where Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills meet.

According to author and historian David Stick, the land that is now Kitty Hawk, Duck and Southern Shores was added in 1920 because the state legislature realized that area logically should have been a part of Dare County all along.

A more colorful tale was told by Pops Scarborough of Duck in a 1997 interview. Approaching 100 years of age at the time of the interview, according to Pops, Currituck County was going to start taxing fishermen on their catch. Local residents approached Dare County commissioners and asked if they planned to tax fishermen on their catch. The answer was no, so they petitioned the state to become part of Dare County.

A colorful tale but difficult to prove.

From the first English child born in the New World to the Wright Brothers first flight, Dare County is filled with remarkable firsts and fascinating pieces of history.

The county is planning a number of event in conjunction with its sesquicentennial celebration. One of the biggest will be Saturday May 2 at Island Farms with interpreters dressed in clothing of the era.

Take the time to explore the history and culture of the Outer Banks. Book your vacation today and stay in a Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates home.

3000 Christmas Trees Help Stabilize Outer Banks Dunes

Placing  Christmas trees in Kitty Hawk. A surprising amount of muscle is needed to do it right.
Placing Christmas trees in Kitty Hawk. A surprising amount of muscle is needed to do it right.

Thanks to a some generous help from some Virginia Beach friends and some really hard work on the beach in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head, a lot of the sand dunes along the beach are looking better than ever.

Donny King chef/owner of Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk got a friend of his up in Virginia Beach to help with Christmas tree collection to stabilize the dunes.

The trees are great for the process. They trap a lot of sand so the dune can begin to regrow. And they are completely biodegradable, so in a couple of years, they’re gone.

It was Chico’s Pizza up in Virginia Beach that had been collecting them and when it wa all said and done they brought down 24 pickup trucks, most towing a trailer, loaded down with discarded Christmas trees.

Meanwhile here on the Outer Banks, there were a few hundred trees already gathered so the end result was somewhere around 2500-3000 trees to put on the beach in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head.

It’s not easy work rebuilding or stabilizing a dune using the trees. Sure the trucks can get them to the beach, but after that, it’s good old fashioned muscle to get them where they’re needed.

It’s not all that technical. The butt end of the tree points to the ocean, but getting them there entails dragging a 6-7’ tree over 100 or 150 yards of sand. 

Some of the pickup did try to get closer to where the trees were supposed to go. That was down in Nags Head. Not a good idea. Loaded down and in very soft sand, getting stuck was pretty much a foregone conclusion. They didn’t need to get towed, but it was a close call.

The trees are just one part of a dune stabilization program that includes planting grasses on the dunes. The larger, more stable dunes are a critical part of protecting property along the shore. 

It needs to be noted, though, that dunes are separate from the beach and whether a beach gains sand or loses it has very little to do with the dune.

Outer Banks beaches are the best there are and Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates has the perfect home just waiting for you.

Repurposing Christmas Trees on the Outer Banks

One option for a new home for used Christmas trees.
One option for a new home for used Christmas trees.

It’s such a simple idea it’s amazing that it works. After the holidays are done and all the trimmings come off the Christmas tree, create a new purpose for it. Place it at the base of a sand dune and let nature take its course.

Here on the Outer Banks it’s become sort of an annual rite of passage. 

The idea came from a project at Jockey’s Ridge State Park where some middle school students and Boy Scouts were laying out Christmas trees to capture sand and rebuild the dune.

it was just a natural progression for someone to figure, “Hey, if it works at Jockey’s Ridge, why wouldn’t it work on the beach?”

And the answer is, it does, and it does very well.

The first to start gathering trees was Betsy Seawell, owner of the Islander Motel in Nags Head. That was in 2009 right after Nor’Ida carved away the dune in front of her motel.

Pretty soon she was, as she describes herself, the Crazy Christmas Tree Lady, going up and down the Outer Banks collecting trees wherever she could find them.

About 2013 Donny King, owner of Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk had some ocean got in the game, although at the time he did not know about Betsy’s efforts. After Sandy passed and he saw that although the dunes were damaged they still kept the sea out of his restaurant, he figured a little help for the dunes was in order.

Donny knows a lot of people and he’s pretty savvy about media, so his efforts really took off.

H’s expanded his efforts now, doing a Better Beaches OBX that includes sand fencing, plants and of course, Christmas trees.

2020 may be the biggest year yet for Christmas trees. Trees can still be dropped off at Betsy’s motel, but the big shipment will be the  25 plus trucks loaded with trees that Donny has arranged to bring from Virginia Beach.

Spend some time in a Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and see for yourself how wonderful our Outer Banks home is. 

A Springlike December Day on the Outer Banks

Waiting for a wave as pelicans soar overhead.
Waiting for a wave as pelicans soar overhead.

We seem to be in an almost springlike weather pattern right now on the Outer Banks. Hard to imagine that Christmas just happened and the New Year is almost here.

The high today topped out around 60. The winds were so light they were barely noticed and the sea had a beautiful sheen to it. The waves were breaking in smooth predictable patterns.

Surfers were running a critical eye over conditions. The waves weren’t really all that big, but but for someone with a longboard or paddle board, there was something to ride.

There was a small pod of dolphin just beyond the break this morning at Kitty Hawk. It was a little bit surprising to see them in December. Although the local dolphin population doesn’t migrate for thousands of miles as many other ocean mammals do, they do head for warmer waters as winter sets in

There was a SUP on the water this morning. He was doing pretty well with the waves. Using his paddle as a rudder, he was able to get a couple of good long rides from some waves that surfers might have passed on.

There were a few families and a couple of dogs enjoying the beach, but for the most part there wasn’t much to disturb anyone seeking some time to relax and enjoy nature.

The weather will change. It always does, although for the next few days the Outer Banks forecast calls for very mild December days.

It all makes for a great time to visit us here at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates. Give us a call or check us out online and let us show you has we can make your next vacation truly memorable.

Perfect Running Weather Greets Outer Banks Marathon Runners

Marathon runners jog along the Kitty Hawk multi-use path by Kitty Hawk Bay.

Just before the weather breaks and becomes bitterly cold with 30 mile per hour winds, we got the Outer Banks Marathon in yesterday. And the weather was a close to perfect as it could have been.

There were actually two long distance races on the Outer Banks on Sunday. The Outer Banks Marathon linking Kitty Hawk with Manteo and the Southern Fried Half Marathon that begins at Jockeys Ridge.

Both races end in downtown Manteo, which is not a bad place to end a 13 or 26 mile race.

There was almost no wind during the race. Not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures never quite got to 60 degrees. With the races beginning at 7:00 in the morning, conditions truly were close to ideal. 

There were over 550 marathon runners this year. The half marathon attracted around three times that number. That’s been a trend for a while, that in longer distances the half marathon has been gaining in popularity.

In the men’s division Byan Morseman from Bath, NY and Harrison Kirigwi really seemed to fight for the lead the whole way. Morseman won with a winning time of 2:28. Kirgwi finshed about two minutes behind him. The next finisher didn’t cross the finish line until 11 minutes later.

In the women’s division Jaqueline Alnes won with a time of 3:07:09.

The Marathons course especially is a beautiful tour of the Outer Banks. Over heard from a marathon runner as she passed Kitty Hawk Bay: “What is this body of water? It’s beautiful.”

Which may be why runners keep coming back.

Is it time for a romantic week on the Outer Banks? Or maybe a holiday getaway with the family. Whatever the plans may bee a stay with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates is the perfect place to begin.

Shrimp Cookoff to Support Outer Banks Dolphin Research This Sunday

The 10th Annual Shrimp Cookoff will support Outer Banks dolphin research.
The 10th Annual Shrimp Cookoff will support Outer Banks dolphin research.

Eating shrimp for a good cause. Could there possibly be a better plan of action than that?

The 10th Annual Shrimp Cookoff is this coming Sunday, November 3 at Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk. 

The good cause? The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research.

The Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research has been gathering data on the Outer Banks dolphins that call Roanoke sound and surrounding waters their home. Yes, there are a lot of them.

For the most part they are seasonal visitors, staying on the Outer Banks from spring though early fall. They are somewhat migratory and as the weather turns colder, they head for warmer waters.

What is surprising is how many dolphins call the Outer Banks home during the summer. Since 2008 when they first began counting dolphins, the OBCDR has confirmed 800. 

To identify individual species, the OBCDR uses a simple but effective method. They photograph the dolphin’s fins. Each fin is unique, often with evidence of tangles with sharks or other predators, making identification fairly obvious.

Their work has helped scientists get a better handle on which dolphins migrate to where and when.

It is ongoing work, and the Shrimp Cookoff goes a long way to helping the OBCDR do its research. 

Some great restaurants will be on hand, including Ocean Boulevard, of course, Bad Bean Baja Grill, AQUA Restaurant and many more.

This is a great opportunity to sample some great seafood from some of the best Outer Banks chefs and help a good cause.

There is always something to do on the Outer Banks. Spend some time with Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates  and see what it’s all about.

Second Outer Bean Opens in Village of Duck

Outer Bean in Duck. A great look and many of the same great items.
Outer Bean in Duck. A great look and many of the same great items.

Outer Bean in Kitty Hawk has always been one of our favorite places. Great coffee, excellent smoothies, wonderful sandwiches and lunch specials—made with organic ingredients when owner Necla (Nay-schlah) Rader can get them.

The help is always friendly and the feeling is very much a European cafe, where you can sit and sip an espresso and no one will hurry you away. Some of that feeling may be that Necla’s native country is Turkey and before she became a citizen she traveled a lot.

The big news is, though, there are now two Outer Beans. 

This past week the second Outer Bean opened in the Barrier Island shops right on the north end of Duck. The shop is right across the street from Sunset Grille.

This new place is much smaller, so some of the menu items are not available in Duck. However, the staples are still there. On a hot day, the iced cappuccino is excellent and their smoothies are guaranteed to put a bounce in anyone’s step.

They will be serving sandwiches at the new location, but paninis and those spectacular soups that Necla whips up…well, there’s just no room to make any of that.

Initially the Duck Outer Bean will have to be mostly a to go place. Over time, Necla may be able to figure out some sort of seating arrangement, but right now the place is pretty small and any seating would have to be outside.

It’s definitely worth checking out. It is the perfect location for weekend traffic heading to Corolla. Just about the time things begin to ease up a bit, Outer Bean will be on the right. A great excuse to stop before the last half hour of the trip.

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates homes put our guest in the heart of what’s happening on the Outer Banks. We look forward to seeing you this summer and many times to come.

Three Surprising Outer Banks Facts

The Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers Monument on Moor Shore Road.
The Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers Monument on Moor Shore Road.

Summer is here and the Outer Banks is alive and well and filled with guests. With everyone having a great time and enjoying the the sun, sand and surf, it can almost seem as though the Outer Banks just happened one day.

That’s not the case, of course, so we thought it might be fun to take a look at three little know facts about the Outer Banks. As it turns out, they’ll all be about the Wright Brothers.

The Other Wright Brothers Monument

The Wright Brothers Monument perched on top of Big Kill Devil Hill is not the only monument to the Wilbur and Orville Wright on the Outer Banks.

On Moor Shore Road in Kitty Hawk there is much more modest monument, this one created and paid for by the citizens of the town.

The monument, placed in May of 1928, marks the location of Bill and Addie Tate’s house where the Wright Brothers stayed in 1900 when they first arrived on the Outer Banks. 

The inscription reads, “On this spot, September 17, 1900, Wilbur Wright began the assembly of the Wright Brothers’ First experimental glider which led to man’s conquest of the air. Erected by the Citizens of Kitty Hawk, NC, 1928.” 

The citizens paid for the whole thing raising $210 to do so.

Moor Shore Road

We can’t talk about the Kitty Hawk Monument without mentioning Moor Shore Road.

Paralleling Kitty Hawk Bay, Moor Shore is one of the oldest roads on the Outer Banks. It was the route the Wright Brothers would have taken to get to Big Kill Devil Hill from Bill Tate’s house.

Moor Shore stops at the Kitty Hawk Bay multi-use path now, but at one time, it would have been a continuous road connecting with what is now Bay Drive in Kill Devil Hills then continuing to the high sand dunes that gave the area its name.

The route along Moor Shore to the the Wright Brothers Monument is a great bike ride.

No Forest or Grass at Kill Devil Hills in 1903

The reason the Wright Brothers moved their camp to Kill Devil Hills in 1901 was there was nothing to stop the wind. No trees, no buildings…nothing. 

The stabilized dune and trees along the border of the Monument did not exist in 1901. If it had, the brothers would certainly have chosen a more open, exposed location.

There is so much to do and explore on the Outer Banks that one visit may not be enough. Check out Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for the best in Outer Banks accommodations.