September 22, 2014
Day at the Docks draws a big crowd
despite the downpours...WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
Island's watermen are known for their hardiness and their
perseverance. They go to sea to catch fish in all kinds of
weather -- hot or cold, windy or calm, rain or shine.
And so it
seemed rather appropriate that this year, after several years of fair
weather, the planners of Day at the Docks, the annual celebration of
Hatteras watermen -- and the visitors to that event -- had to battle
the elements on Saturday, Sept. 20.
And they did it just as well as the commercial and recreational men and women who fish for a living have.
from early to late morning finally gave way to gray skies, humidity,
and lots of puddles along the Hatteras village docks that lasted until
late afternoon when the heavens again opened up with drenching
The village got 5.25 inches of rain in the 24 hours
that began at 7 a.m. Saturday, but that didn't dampen the spirits of
the dozens of folks who put on the event or the hundreds who came to
Parked vehicles lined the shoulders of Highway 12
from the center of the village down past the docks and there were cars
and trucks jammed into every available parking lot and patch of grass.
event was bigger than ever with more tents, demonstrations,
competitions, food, music, storytelling, and exhibits than ever before,
and more people attended the event than ever before in the three or
four drier hours of the afternoon.
What began in 2003 as a small
blessing of the fleet for the village to give thanks after its recovery
from Hurricane Isabel, which the year before devastated the village the
village and cut a new inlet between Frisco and Hatteras, is now a
It began and grew each year under
the leadership of villager Lynne Foster and a band of volunteers
and it continues under the direction of Jon Kelmer and an army of
The only disappointment was that the parade of
workboats and blessing of the fleet, scheduled at 6 p.m., was a hurried
and brief ceremony. However, the lawn dance, featuring the Cashmere
Jungle Lords, went on as planned to end the day -- though it was moved
inside to the Hatteras Civic Center.
Under the tents along the
docks, local church groups sold food and baked goods --
everything from steamed shrimp to hot dogs and cupcakes to ice cream.
the main stage, musicians from near and far entertained and
storytellers told of Hatteras of days gone by. Under the
education tent you could learn about everything from the island's
weather to its fisheries. The U.S. Coast Guard gave harbor and boat
tours, and watermen competed in a "concrete marlin" and mullet tossing
In one of the most popular events each year, 101
youngster competed in age categories in the kids' fishing
contest. They were fishing along the docks for the heaviest
pinfish and the longest fish in the harbor and won trophies and prizes
donated by local stores and tackle shops.
overall grand prize winners were Ruby Shoemaker, 11, of Buxton for the
heaviest pinfish, and Joey Gavetti, 6, of Buxton for the longest fish
-- a 32-inch stingray. Joe Kavanagh of Frisco won in the rare
fish category for a gag grouper he caught. You can click here for a list of all the winners and volunteers and sponsors.
again, the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation raised money to help
island cancer patients with its Chowder Cook-off. People could
purchase, for a donation, the opportunity to taste eight different clam
and other seafood chowders and vote for their favorite.
year's winner was the Mad Crabber restaurant in Avon, which won for
both the best overall and the best traditional chowder. Other
restaurants that participated included Breakwater, Dinky's, Hatteras
Sol Deli & Cafe, Pop's Raw Bar & Grill, Dirty Dick's Crab
House, Frisco Sandwich Company, and Capt. Rolo's.
gathered under another tent to watch two island chef's battle it out in
the Seafood Throwdown. This year's competitors were Seth Foutz of
Ketch 55 Seafood Grill in Avon and Eric Gill of the Breakwater
restaurant in Hatteras, who were given an hour to prepare dishes using
a local seafood ingredient that was revealed only when the event began.
emcees chronicled their every move, they worked feverishly to please
the judges with their preparation of the mystery seafood -- king
mackerel. It all smelled good and looked yummy, but the judges
pronounced Seth Foutz the winner.
Before and after the
throwdown, good cooks demonstrated how to pick blue crabs and various
ways to cook seafood under the food tent. And over at Hatteras
Harbor Marina, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries exhibited examples
of all the local catches on ice.
While all of the
competitions were happening, folks could browse for fishing-related
arts and crafts, and kids enjoyed the crab races and making fish-print
The day's events always conclude with a blessing of
the fleet, but the heavy rain that started about 4:30 changed the plans
for a leisurely parade of workboats into the harbor and a blessing
around Hatteras Harbor Marina, where many people usually gather to
Instead about 10 boats, led by the three boats of the
Albatross Fleet -- which includes Albatross I that was built in 1937
and is the oldest working boat in the harbor -- moved through the
breakwater and out into the Pamlico Sound.
the Albatross 1, U.S. Coast Guardsman Mark Burgoa played his bagpipes
while a wreath to commemorate all watermen who have died was placed in
the water by the father of the late Richie Spears, who was both a
fisherman and owner of the Hatterasman Drive-In.
Then the Rev. Dwight Burrus and Capt. David Wilson blessed the fleet with their words and prayers.
boats, by then in torrential rains, hurried back into the harbor in
near-zero visibility -- a somewhat disappointing but somehow fitting
end to a day honoring our hardy and hard-working watermen.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW