Coastal History: A new clue into the New World

Digging on the Internet may prove to be more fruitful than decades of digging in the earth has been in deciphering the stubborn mysteries of early English exploration of the New World.

Thanks to new digitalization of some British historic records, a previously unseen document likely dating from 1584 to early 1585 appears to be communication from Sir Walter Raleigh about the first of the 1584-1587 Roanoke Voyages and details of the visit to England by Native Americans Manteo and Wanchese.  
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A Storm Gives Up Some Unusual Treasure From The Sea

On an early morning beach walk in Emerald Island this month, North Carolina Coast Federation naturalist Sam Bland spotted two unusual finds that washed up from the deep ocean as Hurricane Bertha passed well offshore.
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Science aims to save lives with better rip current forecasting

The waves aren’t that big. The water looks calm.  It must be safe.

Visitors to the Outer Banks might make that assumption as they cross over the dunes and look at the water. Most are unaware that rip currents can happen in seemingly calm conditions with 2- to 3-foot waves.

These powerful seaward channels accounted for at least seven deaths in North Carolina last year and on average, 100 fatal drownings annually nationwide. Rip currents are the number-one public safety risk on beaches in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.

That fact is what drew local, state and international rip current specialists to the Outer Banks last week to continue to hammer away at new education campaigns and explore innovative data-gathering techniques.

Read the story in the Outer Banks Voice.


'Wicked Tuna: North vs. South' really is quite wicked

In what was likely the first time a bitter feud over fisheries quota has been transformed into swaggering entertainment, a sneak preview Thursday night of the premier of “Wicked Tuna: North vs. South” was met with raucous whooping and cheers by Outer Bankers at a standing-room only gala at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo.

 The spinoff of the National Geographic Channel’s popular "Wicked Tuna" series, which begins Sunday, Aug. 17, was shot last winter off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet, featuring local boats and Outer Banks fishermen battling “invading” Yankee watermen – who had a rough season up north -- for the notoriously limited bluefin tuna quota off Outer Banks waters. 
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Entrepreneurs out to prove that the drones are coming -- to help us...WITH SLIDE SHOW

Justin Davis wants to switch the focus on drones from their nasty reputation as missile-carrying killing machines and  privacy-invading spies. Davis wants people to focus on what’s good about drones. And for a remote, storm-vulnerable place like the Outer Banks, drones could become the public’s best friend.

Davis, the owner of Drone Camps RC in Rodanthe, said that drones have become very popular with people who use them to video “lifestyle adventures,” such as kiteboarding in Canadian Hole, kayaking in Pea Island, or hooking blue marlin on an offshore charter fishing trip. But once the regulators catch up with technology, Davis said drones will quickly become invaluable workhorses.  
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Island Living: Guilty Pleasures

My former-fiancé-turned-hubby and I just returned from our long overdue and much anticipated weekend vacation on Hatteras Island. (And now that we’re married, I suppose I can finally disclose his name. It’s John Smith. I am not making this up. In fact, I asked to see his ID on our first date.)

Anyway, I realized both during our trip and upon our return that every “vacation” back home to the Outer Banks is, well, a little different. When I’m on Hatteras Island, I’m relaxed, more carefree, and more inclined to take part in actions that I know are bad, but that feel so incredibly good that it’s easy to give in.  
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Honoring the Last 'Old Salt' of Ocracoke

The last of a generation of Ocracoke Island men who were true “old salts” died recently, but Edgar Maurice Ballance will be remembered on this island with love and respect.
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Democracy Honeybee-style

Fountain Odom of Manteo doesn’t belabor the metaphor, but he does seem to appreciate the workings of democracy with honeybees more so than those of his former colleagues in the North Carolina General Assembly.

As a veteran beekeeper, Odom, who served 14 years in the state senate, speaks in awe of the efficiency of the hive, its remarkable skill in communicating and cooperating and the dedication and loyalty of its workers. 

“They swarm sometimes because the old queen has started to slow down,” he explained during a recent interview.  “They decide it’s time to start a new home. But before they swarm and leave, they actually send scouts out to find another home.”  
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Island Music: A front man, side man, Lou Castro does it all in Ocracoke’s music scene

Lou Castro may seem like a quiet one, but get him talking about music and he’s a ball of energy as the joy of his profession flows in a cascade of musical references and past and contemporary musicians. Castro, 48, is a fixture in the music scene on Ocracoke. The number of bands he’s in changes often.

“Music is like my religion,” he says. “It helps me to be a better human being. I try to learn any kind of music.”
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Reflections on the 'Thunder Moon'

Naturalist Sam Bland explores the lure of full moons on coastal animals and residents and takes stunning photos of a recent "supermoon."  The Native Americans referred to July's full moon as the  "Thunder Moon" because of the frequency of thunderstorms during July. They also named it the “Buck Moon” because the male deer are now displaying the growth of new velvety antlers.
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In his first novel, local author brings a bygone era to life

A lot of people say they’re going to write a book one day, but not a lot of people actually do it.  Of those who do, few actually get published, and even fewer sell out of their first printing in just 25 days.  “Well,” said Elvin Hooper, smiling with a youthful exuberance that belies his 65 years of age, “I guess I’ve just always been under the illusion that I was an author.”

Hooper is the author of “Chicamacomico: How it was back then,” and on a recent mid-summer afternoon, in between sips of sweet iced tea, genial conversation, and detours into tangential stories, he discussed why he wanted to write the book, how he made it happen, and what he hopes will come of it.  
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Looking Back: Ocracoke’s Historic Community Square

Located on the harbor in Ocracoke village, the Community Square has long been the hub of this island community.  Made up of the Community Store, docks, and several other businesses, this significant portion of Ocracoke’s Historic District has recently been the focus of a project to rejuvenate the square and preserve the island’s history and culture.
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Outer Banks plastic bag ban turns 5

When it was passed by legislators five years ago this month, the ban on plastic bags on the Outer Banks was one of the few in the country. Since then more than 125 communities have followed suit in banishing one of the most ubiquitous sources of litter on their streets and beaches.

“It makes things a whole lot easier to keep clean,” said Clyde Gard, Dare County’s assistant public works director. “The wind picks those things up, and when it picks it up, it goes on and on and on.”  
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Island History: 94-year-old Blanche Joliff remembers her childhood on Ocracoke

Riding in a horse-drawn cart across the beach to see a shipwreck, dining on “so good” sea turtle hash, going out in her Daddy’s fishing boat, the “Blanche,” named for her; and eating “the most delicious sweet potato pie,” made by her mother—these are some of the things Blanche Howard Joliff, 94 years old, recalls from her childhood at Ocracoke.

Blanche is the daughter of Elizabeth Ballance Howard and Stacy Howard, both native Ocracokers.  Born in 1919, she was delivered at home by Ocracoke’s renowned  midwife, Charlotte “Miss Lot” O’Neal. She grew up at Ocracoke, living in her parents’ house on Howard Street until the early '50s, when she met a young man who was looking into building a highway on the island. 
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Coastal Sketch: Ernie Foster, Hatteras Island waterman

Preservation and heritage have long been important to Ernie Foster, 69, of Hatteras village whose father, Ernal, launched the Outer Banks' first charter fishing operation. Both preservation and heritage will suffer, he knows, without a clean environment. As a member of the N.C. Coastal Federation’s Board of Directors, Foster, 69, serves as representative of the coastal heritage of Outer Banks watermen. He also has become a spokesman for a community that interacts with the coastal environment each and every day all year round.
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Our Coast's Food: Soft-Shell Crabs

Forget tedious hours hand-picking meat from hard-shell crabs. With soft-shells, you eat the whole thing.  They are a delicious delicacy this time of year on the coast and are usually dusted with flour, dipped in the lightest batter, and sautéed until their lacy crusts turn honey brown, signaling the sweet, juicy meat in the papery shell is ready to eat.  
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‘Tale of Blackbeard’ play is being revived for the summer on Ocracoke…WITH SLIDE SHOW

The revival of the play “A Tale of Blackbeard” after a 20-year hiatus is the talk of Ocracoke.
An original musical by former islander Julie Howard, the show had four preview performances in May and will begin its summer run Monday nights at 8 p.m. June 9 through Aug. 11.  
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Remembering the British sailors killed in the 1942 Battle of the Atlantic…WITH SLIDE SHOW

Charles Hassell and Ted Rex learned about a piece of North Carolina history of which they were unaware when they attended the annual British Cemetery Memorial remembrance Friday on Ocracoke.

Elementary school teachers in Raleigh, the two were attending a conference at North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. They talked with Commander David Trudeau, with the Royal Canadian Navy, who was among several military officials in attendance, who explained Canada’s reverence for the Battle of the Atlantic every first Sunday in May.

“We’re expanding our knowledge,” Rex said about the German U-boat brigade that for six months picked off allied convoys like a shooting gallery off the Outer Banks in 1942. “I’d never heard about this. (Attending this event) is like walking down a hall and opening a door,” he said.  
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Hatteras native turns her childhood memories into a series of books for young and old

More than 65 years ago, before Highway 12 stretched between the seven villages and Bonner Bridge spanned Oregon Inlet, small, resilient communities thrived on Hatteras Island.  Lacking a reliable road, direct access to the mainland, and many of the modern conveniences, life on the island was challenging, yet idyllic in its simplicity.

The children, especially, reveled in this time before the road.  The entire island was a safe haven, while its expansive beaches, untamed wilderness, and unique history provided an endless supply of excitement and adventure.

Jeanette Gray Finnegan Jr. who grew up in Buxton before the highway was built, recently began writing a series of children’s books based upon the island’s history, her childhood experiences, and family heritage.
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Has Hatteras islander found a significant Civil War-era fort in Waves?

After piecing together clues found on old maps and historic documents, local historical investigator Mel Covey is confident that he has located a significant Civil War-era fort on Hatteras Island, as well as the underwater spot where artifacts were tossed off a fleeing Union gunboat.

Covey, an island native who grew up in Rodanthe, said that his familiarity with the island waters and topography has helped him pinpoint where Camp Live Oak had been built prior to the famed Chicamacomico Races, when Confederate and Union forces in 1861 chased each other up and down the beach.
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