Outer Banks Blogs

Where Are They Now?

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 05:00
On April Fool's morning I sat down at my computer to see if I had any comments on my post about drone lifeguards. After I was finished reading I raised my eyes and glanced out my window. I saw the top of a head at the base of my front steps.

This is what I saw when I opened my door.















My new friends remained in my yard all day, but they mysteriously wandered off during the night. I am told they paid a visit to Kenny Ballance. By morning they had found their way to the coffee shop, but rumor has it they departed last night around 10 pm.


















My guess is that they are still on the island, hoping to find a kind soul to take them in. If you see them, please report their whereabouts to the authorities...or just leave a comment.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Pamlico Sound

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 04:58
Several days ago a reader asked this question: "Where did the name Pamlico come from?"

Of course, Pamlico Sound is the name of the lagoon or estuary that is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the chain of barrier islands called the Outer Banks. It is approximately 80 miles long and 30 miles wide, making it the largest lagoon on the east coast of the United States.

NASA Photo of Pamlico Sound














The Pamlico River, formed by the confluence of the Tar River and Tranters Creek, is a tidal river in eastern North Carolina that flows into Pamlico Sound.

Following are the various spellings I located on a dozen early maps (mapmakers' names in parentheses):

Pamxlico River, 1657 (Comberford)
Pemptico [River], 1672 (Ogilby)
Pamticoe Sound, 1733 (Moseley)
Pamticoe River, 1770 (Collet)
Pamticoe Sound, 1775 (Mouzon)
Pamtico Sound, 1808 (Price-Strother)
Pamplico Sound, 1833 (Mac Rae-Brazier)
Pamplico Sound, 1861 (Colton)
Pamlico Sound, 1861 (Bachman)
Pamplico Sound, 1865 (US Coast Survey)
Pamlico Sound, 1882 (Kerr-Cain)
Pamlico Sound, 1896 (Post Route Map)

Roger L. Payne, in his book Place Names of the Outer Banks, lists one other spelling, Pamticough, and writes that "the lagoon is named for the Pamlico or Paquiac Indians who inhabited its shores...."

Payne adds, "Paquiac is the Algonquian word for shallow area and actually referred to Pamlico Sound but was misapplied by early mapmakers [to 'portions of Hatteras and Pea islands']."

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Ruth Bromhall

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 04:42
Many of our readers know Jude Brown, long-time manager of Village Craftsmen. She typically works in the back office, choosing and ordering craft items, paying bills, managing employees, and taking care of various other details of the business. Occasionally she works at the counter, waiting on customers.

On Thursday, March 20, Jude's mother, Ruth Bromhall, died after many months of age-related complications. Ruth was 93 years old. She was born on January 31, 1921 in Niagara Falls, NY.

Ruth Bromhall


















Ruth was in the inaugural class of volunteers at Peninsula General Hospital, Salisbury, Maryland, where she served for over twenty-five years, touching many lives. Jude and her extended family remember Ruth as their beloved mom, the center and grounding of their lives, always game for family adventures, known for her reassuring and easy smile and wink, her expertise at doing crossword puzzles, and for her great spaghetti sauce.

She will be missed by family and friends.

Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Latest News Re. Lifeguards

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 03:31
Many of our readers have heard that the Park Service had made a decision to de-fund lifeguards in 2014. As a result of intense lobbying by Ocracoke Island residents and visitors, the Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore has agreed to re-instate lifeguards on our beach. But islanders are as puzzled as they are delighted.

The decision is not exactly what Ocracokers were expecting. Because of budget cuts, the NPS is unable to fund conventional lifeguards. However, new technology will allow the Park to use UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, aka "drones"). Drones have already been tested in Iran, and have been employed successfully as airborne lifeguards, locating distressed swimmers using thermal cameras and dropping life preservers to swimmers.

The good news is that drones are not only less expensive than human lifeguards, but they can be employed for longer periods and can patrol larger areas. Visiting teenagers will surely be less enthusiastic with the decision, however!

Click on the photo below (or on this link: http://rtsideas.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7:pars-test-at-caspian-sea&Itemid=468&lang=en) to read more about the Iranian company that developed the battery powered drone lifeguards.

Drone Lifeguard on the Caspian Sea













For more information about the use of drones in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, please click here.  
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Paper Critter

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 03/31/2014 - 06:37
Lachlan called me over to his house Sunday afternoon. This is what I discovered when I walked into his living room:



This paper critter was his original design. He designed it and made it himself (with more than 3 dozen sheets of paper), He says it took him about 2 hours to construct.

Pretty cool for a 9 year old, don't you think!

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Platform Rockers

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sun, 03/30/2014 - 04:46
In December, 1899 the British steamship Ariosto wrecked on the north end of Ocracoke Island. Captain Baines presented the platform rocker from his cabin to my great-grandfather as a token of appreciation for saving his life. My father refinished, re-glued, and re-caned the chair more than forty years ago.

Captain's Chair from the Ariosto 


















Shortly afterward, in the mid 1970s, my father made two dozen near replicas of the captain's chair. Every one was constructed with at least some lumber that he found washed up on the beach. The chairs sold for $250 each.

Lawton Howard with three Handmade Chairs


















Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

A Mistake?

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sat, 03/29/2014 - 04:52
Have you ever noticed that the top of the Ocracoke lighthouse is off-center?

Look carefully at the photo below (you can enlarge it by following the directions on the right). The lantern room is lopsided. The asymmetrical top of the lighthouse is most noticeable viewed from Pamlico Sound.














Some people think the architect/builder, Noah Porter, made a mistake, but I believe the top's offset was intentional, positioned to allow easy access via trapdoor from the spiral staircase into the area of the lantern room between the outer wall and the central Fresnel lens.

Be sure to look carefully at the lighthouse the next time you approach Ocracoke from Pamlico Sound.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Flit

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 05:08
My daughter Amy just finished reading Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel, a biography of Theodore Geisel (better known to generations of children and adults as Dr. Seuss, the author of The Cat in the Hat and other books).

On page 65 I learned that Standard Oil of New Jersey (later to become Exxon) contracted with Geisel for seventeen years to draw cartoon panels for their Flit advertising campaign.

Flit was an insecticide invented by chemist Dr. Franklin C. Nelson, and dispensed in manual spray pumps. Anyone who lived on or visited Ocracoke in the 1930s through the 1950s will remember these Flit bug-spray guns. They were used regularly on the island for killing flies and mosquitoes. Every household, it seemed, had a Flit spray-gun handy to combat the bugs.

Photo Courtesy of Bullenwächter















Geisel's cartoons, and the tag line "Quick, Henry, the Flit," rocketed the product to immediate success.   Although the original formula was mineral-oil based, by the 1940s and 1950s the insecticide contained DDT. Eventually, of course, the harmful effects of DDT were recognized, and the product was discontinued.

I can still remember my grandmama spraying the Flit gun in the house. I thought maybe cousin Blanche still had an old spray gun in her outbuilding, but, alas, even Blanche discarded hers. There is probably not one left on the island, and that's probably a good thing.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Portsmouth Island Homecoming

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 04:40
Every two years the Friends of Portsmouth Island hosts Homecoming across the inlet. Hundreds of people arrive, breathing life into this wonderful community suspended in time. Below is information you will need if you are planning to attend.



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Portsmouth HomecomingApril 26, 2014
If coming for the day on the Cedar Island-to-Ocracoke ferry:You will need to make reservations with the North Carolina Ferry Service (1-800-BY-FERRY).  The Ferry Service schedules and prices are subject to change before April, so make your own plans and reservations.  At this time, walk-ons do not need reservations.  From Ocracoke to Portsmouth, you will need reservations with Rudy Austin.
If coming from Hatteras, or if already on Ocracoke:You will need to make reservations with Rudy Austin. 
Reservations to Portsmouth from Ocracoke should be made with Rudy Austin (252) 928-4361 ($20 per person, round trip).Do not call Rudy until April.
If coming from Core Banks:Four-wheel drive owners might drive from the Long Point Camps.  Catch the vehicle ferry from Atlantic, then 17 miles up the beach to Portsmouth.  Contact Morris Marina at Atlantic for reservations (252) 225-4261.
You may, of course, travel in your own boat!
·         Dress for the weather and for the boat ride.  Bug spray, water, and good walking shoes are important.  ·         Portsmouth t-shirts and special Portsmouth notecards will be available.  The Portsmouth Post Office will be open and a special cancellation will be available for that day only.·         The Portsmouth Methodist Church building is 100 years old in 2014.  This will be the focus of Homecoming.  The Methodist Bishop of North Carolina will be our special guest.·         After Homecoming services, "dinner on the grounds" will be served.  Be sure to bring a dish that will be shared with others.  Paper products, tea, and ice will be provided.·         Major buildings will be open.  Friends of Portsmouth Island, many of whom are family members related to each building, will be on-site hosts.  The Washington Roberts House will be open for the first time.  Buildings will be open after lunch for you to tour.  Boats back to Ocracoke will run until everyone is off  the Island.  Please take your  time on Portsmouth and enjoy the day. 
Contact Richard Meissner (252) 728-3242 or dingbatter204@ec.rr.com for more info.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Marine Salvage

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 05:16
Yesterday, in response to the photo of the beached Navy vessel, the Betelgeuse, a reader asked these questions:

" Whatever became of the "Betelgeuse"? PRESUMABLY she was somehow re-floated and hauled off to her final resting place, BUT...I suspect that re-floating may have been unlikely, which means she may have been scrapped in place, but even THAT seems unlikely.

"Or perhaps somehow her interior was scrapped until the hull itself was light enough to be towed off the shore (though I'd guess this the most UNLIKELY of these scenarios).

"As old-time radio personality Paul Harvey used to suggest, how about 'the rest of the story,' Philip?"

Well, here is the rest of the story: I am no expert on maritime salvage laws, but two Midgett brothers on Hatteras Island seem to have been. In a 2008 article in the Island Free Press, about 
shipwreck salvaging on the Outer Banks, author Daniel Couch recounts the history of "wreck busting."

Couch writes, " When a ship wrecked along the beach, the international maritime salvage laws came into play. It is still recognized law today, with some exceptions. Simply stated, the first on board took possession providing they 'raced' to reach the notary public to have their claim registered."

Couch goes on to explain how "wreckers" were then employed to deal with the ship and the cargo.

He writes, "A recent example of this was the 1976 beaching between Kinnakeet and Chicamacomico of the World War II liberty ship Betelgeuse, bound from Philadelphia to a Galveston scrap yard, when it was cut loose by the sea tug towing her as bad weather threatened to wreck both vessels. Two Rodanthe men, Mac Midgett and Steve Midgett, the first to board her under maritime salvage laws and after the prerequisite trip to a notary, were awarded an undisclosed amount of money to 'guard' the vessel by the insurance company."

Eventually the ship was pulled from the beach and towed away. The Midgett brothers received their payment.

My first thought was, "Wow, what an easy way to make some extra money!" And then I thought, with my luck the owners of the ship would say they didn't want it any longer, and it now belonged to me. Then the National Park Service would demand that I remove the ship from the beach. Before long I would be bankrupt.

But I have to give it to Mac and Steve Midgett. I heard they attached a 9 lb. Danforth anchor to the Betelgeuse to claim her!

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Betelgeuse

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 04:37
The 455' long Betelgeuse was the last cargo ship in service in the US Navy. She was launched in 1944. While being towed to Texas in 1976 the Betelgeuse was cut loose from the tug because of high seas. She ran aground at Rodanthe. I took this photo on Feb. 5, 1976.



















The three people in the foreground are (L to R) Stefen Howard, Julie Howard, and Amy Howard. Amy is the current Administrator of the Ocracoke Preservation Museum.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Wilma Lee

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 03/24/2014 - 05:02
The 46' skipjack Wilma Lee is back in Silver Lake after a routine Coast Guard dry dock inspection this winter. One final inspection is pending, and the Wilma Lee should be ready to sail with passengers by Easter.














A sunset cruise on the Wilma Lee is a highlight of any visit to Ocracoke. The vessel can carry up to 42 people, so whether you are traveling alone, with a large group, or planning a special event be sure to make your reservations.


 











The Wilma Lee is owned by Ocracoke Alive, a local non-profit organization dedicated to educational and cultural programs. 

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Award

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sun, 03/23/2014 - 04:46
Many of our readers know Lou Ann...writer, storyteller, actress, photographer, and teacher. She spends much of her summers on Ocracoke leading Ghost & History Tours, volunteering to share history and stories at the Lighthouse, participating in the Wednesday evening Opry shows, helping at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum,and generally contributing to the life of our island community.
For the rest of the year Lou Ann lives in the Midwest. On Thursday, March 20 Lou Ann was honored for her contributions to her Indiana community. For many years she has helped bring stories, theater, music, and other cultural events to her area. Her own performances at local libraries, civic centers, churches, and other venues have become a major part of her community's arts and humanities outreach.

Several years ago Lou Ann was named an Indiana State Storyteller by Governor Evan Bayh.  She has also received several commissions from Storytelling Arts of Indiana and Indiana Landmarks, as well as two teacher fellowship grants from the Lilly Endowment.
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On Thursday, March 20, in Wells Theater at Trine University the mayor of her town, the honorable Richard Hickman, presented Lou Ann with "The Mayor's Arts & Humanities Award for Substantial & Long-term Contributions to the Cultural Life of the Angola Area."
Mayor Hickman, Lou Ann & Her Award















Lou Ann was excited, and honored by the recognition (somehow all of her family & friends managed to keep the award a secret until the hour of the presentation). In accepting the award Lou Ann shared her approach to life. “You do things you love," she said. "I tell my students, ‘passion, passion, passion.’”

Congratulations, Lou Ann!

And be sure to look for Lou Ann this summer as she brings her talents and her enthusiasm for art, the humanities, and history to Ocracoke Island. We are honored to have her as a valuable member of our community also.

Our latest Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 newspaper article about the Mail Boat Aleta. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Dolphins

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sat, 03/22/2014 - 05:09
I went to Portsmouth Island a couple of weeks ago with Dick & Cheri, friends from Concord, NC. On the way over we encountered several pods of dolphins. Dick made a video, and pulled a few still shots for me to share with our readers. It is always a treat to see dolphins in Pamlico Sound.
















Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Mail Boat Aleta

Ocracoke Island Journal - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 04:29
I have already published photos and stories of the Aleta in past blog posts and in Ocracoke Newsletters. This month our Newsletter continues that coverage with a reprint of a 1948 article about Ocracoke Island's iconic Mail Boat Aleta. This article provides another perspective on this vessel that kept Ocracoke connected with the mainland of North Carolina...and the rest of the outside world.

You can read our latest Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Ocracoke Observer

Ocracoke Island Journal - Thu, 03/20/2014 - 04:24
Local Press Release:

The Ocracoke Observer is under new ownership.
Islanders Connie Leinbach and Peter Vankevich purchased and will now run this newspaper effective March 12. Ruth Fordon will continue as editor. This print monthly newspaper is a free publication made available throughout Ocracoke Island and connecting points and areas in Hyde and Dare counties.
The new owners, while looking to enhance the web presence of the paper, believe in the worth of print newspapers and the special niche this monthly has for Ocracoke Island.
Founded in 1999, the paper covers news and culture primarily relating to Ocracoke Island.  Future plans for the paper include creating an online presence and making past articles available online.Connie Leinbach has an extensive industry background as a daily news reporter, free-lance writer, publicist and newspaper publisher. She has also worked in arts management as a theater company manager and arts agency executive director.
Peter Vankevich worked in the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress including being head of the Copyright Information Section for 16 years, and has been a freelance writer for the Hill Rag. He has a radio show called Theme Tunes on the Ocracoke community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM and online, and he serves as a volunteer fireman. 
The new co-owners live full-time on the island and have written for the Observer for several years.  For more information, contact the owners at ocracokeobserver@gmail.com, or 252-928-1811.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter documents the day telephones came to the island. The article includes images of Ocracoke's first telephone directory which lists a total of 63 subscribers. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Screen Houses or Cool Houses

Ocracoke Island Journal - Wed, 03/19/2014 - 04:23
On Friday, March 14, I published some photos of my recent visit to Portsmouth Island. I have had questions about the small screen house (sometimes called a cool house or a milk house) in Henry Pigott's yard, and exactly what it was used for. Realizing that I did not provide any independent confirmation of my description of the screen house and my explanation of its use, I searched the Internet for more information. None was forthcoming. 

So...several days ago I carried this photo of Henry Pigott's Portsmouth Island screen house across the lane, and showed it to cousin Blanche (she is 94 years old).

 












I made just this simple request: "Blanche, tell me what this is, and what it would be used for." 

This is what she said:

"It's over at Portsmouth, but I don't know where. It's one of those little...what did they call them. I can't think right now what mama called them. It's a screened in box. If you're going to kill you a chicken on Saturday, you put them in this box to keep them cool til Sunday.

"It was to keep food cool so it couldn't spoil. Mama used to keep her salt pork in it on the bottom shelf. A lot of people had them. They made them themselves." 

Of course, these screen or cool houses wouldn't keep food fresh for very long, say in July and August. But they were useful for protecting food for short periods, especially overnight.

I am wondering if screen houses like this are unique to the Outer Banks. I haven't been able to find any other references to them on the Internet. 

This is a photo Dave Frum took of the Screen House/Cool House behind the Salter House on Portsmouth:



 











And this is a closeup of the sign:
















Here is a photo of the screen house Blanche's daddy made many years ago:
















You can read more here: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2012/10/screen-house.html.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter documents the day telephones came to the island. The article includes images of Ocracoke's first telephone directory which lists a total of 63 subscribers. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022114.htm.   
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Petition

Ocracoke Island Journal - Tue, 03/18/2014 - 05:00
On Thursday I wrote about de-funding for lifeguards on Ocracoke's beach.  The Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore does not believe it is important to have lifeguards for 2014. 

If you think this policy is a mistake, please sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-our-lifeguards-put-lifeguards-back-on-our-beaches

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter documents the day telephones came to the island. The article includes images of Ocracoke's first telephone directory which lists a total of 63 subscribers. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Clarification

Ocracoke Island Journal - Mon, 03/17/2014 - 06:39
The Old Quawk story was published yesterday evening.  March 16 is Old Quawk's Day.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Old Quawk

Ocracoke Island Journal - Sun, 03/16/2014 - 17:33
I almost forgot -- today is Old Quawk's Day!! I wrote the following story 14 years ago. Enjoy.


In the late 1700's or early 1800's a man of indeterminate origin made his home on Ocracoke, but not in the area of the present-day village.  Several miles north, on a small hill, or hammock, he built his simple home of bull rushes and driftwood.

He had arrived on the island, some said, on a schooner from a distant land.  Others claimed he had been shipwrecked on the beach and had decided to remain here.  It was even rumored that he had once been a pirate.  At any rate he was different from the other residents.  Not only was he dark skinned (some think he was of African, West Indian, or perhaps Puerto Rican descent), he was not a friendly sort of fellow.  It is said he was often surly and disagreeable, preferring his solitude to interaction with the rest of the island community. When he got excited or argumentative people thought he squawked like a night heron.  Hence the nickname, Old Quawk, or Old Quork.  No one knew his given name.

Like the other men of the island, Old Quawk fished nets in Pamlico Sound.  On March 16 many years ago the weather turned nasty.  Storm clouds formed on the horizon, the wind picked up and the sea was running rough.  All of the fishermen were concerned about their nets but more concerned still for their safety.  It was agreed among them that the day was much too stormy to risk venturing out in their small sailing skiffs.

All agreed, save Old Quawk.  His nets were too important to him and he had no fear.  Cursing the weather, his weak-kneed neighbors and God himself, he set out in his small boat to salvage his catch and his equipment. He was either very brave or very fool-hardy, or both.  At any rate, he never returned and he and his boat were never seen again.

For more than one hundred and seventy five years seafarers from Ocracoke and even farther north on the Outer Banks paid healthy respect to the memory of Old Quawk by staying in port on March 16.  Superstitions pass with time, however, and nowadays many islanders do not even note the date, let alone pay it any heed.

Nevertheless, Old Quawk lives on in the names of landmarks near where he made his home: "Quork Hammock" and "Old Quork's Creek."  Next time you cross the bridge that leads across the creek that bears this colorful character's name think of him on his last tempestuous day, his fist raised to the heavens, cursing and inveighing against God and Mother Nature.  Perhaps you will even be a tad more cautious if you decide to go boating on March 16.  Or maybe you will wait for another day, when the forecast is a bit brighter!
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs
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