Category Archives: Outer Banks

Avon Harbor

Local commercial fishing operations on Hatteras have always fascinated me. It’s the old school work ethic of harvesting from the sea that draws me in. Working on the water has been a cultural mainstay here for generations.

In 1996 I bought a Pentax medium format camera system. Using black and white or color negative film, the results surpassed 35mm work in the quality and sharpness of my darkroom prints.

That same year, I shot Avon Harbor when it still had a working waterfront.

Today most of that has nearly all disappeared.

The Stick Show

For the past 44 years, the Dare County Arts Council has announced a call for entries for the Frank Stick Memorial Art Show. It’s the longest running visual arts exhibition in the county. Frank Stick was a renown Outer Banks artist, a preservationist and was instrumental in having Cape Hatteras designated as our first National Seashore.

I’ve made a piece for nearly every show. This year there were well over a hundred entries, with an award for Best in Show. There are also 4 Excellence Awards, 3 Honorable Mentions and a People’s Choice award.

Many of the subjects are Outer Banks oriented.

Ray Matthews is a master printer. His photograph of an aerial view at Hatteras Inlet was brilliant. He’s inspired me since we first met in 1973.

I had a difficult time deciding on a People’s Choice, but ultimately went with James Perry’s mixed media abstract on the far right. I was taken by his use of shapes and vibrant colors.

My entry was a 23×28 framed photograph of a Farm Truck taken last November in the hills of Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park. It earned an Excellence Award and added another ribbon to some that I’ve acquired over the years.

 

 

Coming Soon

In building a series of bridges on Hatteras Island, NCDOT will tentatively open the newest one in March. Known as the Jug Handle, it replaces a roadway that, over the years, has routinely been washed out by high seas.

Last August I was fortunate to be given an after-hours tour of the impressively engineered site. 

The north and south terminus construction had yet to be connected midway.

High up on a superstructure, I admired the curvature toward the northern terminus on Pea Island.

Looking south, with Rodanthe as a backdrop, the now-gone trestles and infrastructure were still in place. Possibly opening to foot traffic in March, I hope to be walking the 2 ½ mile span as I did at the new Basnight Bridge in 2019.

With a tourism based economy, access to the islands is key. And as roadways continue to be compromised, this bridge won’t be the last.

Parting Shots

Some of my first memories living on Hatteras Island involved surfing next to the Salvo shipwreck. Locals referred to it as the Richmond. It was, and still is an iconic feature of the village. Over the years, even surrounded by tumultuous seas, it has held fast and never budged.

According to state records it is the remnants of the Pocahontus, a Civil War transport steamer that wrecked during a storm in 1862.

I go to it regularly, sometimes checking the waves, to meditate, relax or take some pictures. Last Saturday I did just that. It was a beautiful day, waves rolling in with four cormorants perched on it.

Early Sunday morning an approaching front brought gale force winds. Anxious to see the transforming ocean conditions, I drove out on the beach to see how it looked. Hunkered in my truck, I photographed the wreck through a windswept downpour. 

I shoot impulsively. So could these be my last photographs of 2021?

Maybe not!

Pier Pressure

Throughout the years staying on Hatteras, I’ve gotten to expect coastal storms. At times it feels as though I’ve been living on a ship at sea. It’s both thrilling and humbling at the same time. The latest event was no different.

On the morning of November 6th the seas were getting stormy yet still moderate. But by 3 o’clock that afternoon the ocean rose up dramatically. It was blowing a gale with rain pelting from the northeast. As I walked halfway up the Rodanthe pier, the wooded structure vibrated and swayed . The waves were almost as high as the pier. I took several quick shots then turned back. It would have been crazy not to.

Gales continued into the next day while shifting out of a more northerly direction. As the ocean washed over the highway in the expected locations, I wondered about the fragility of the pier with such heavy seas.

At high tide the morning of the 8th, waves still battered the pier and damage was evident.

About a quarter way from the end, the deck had collapsed. It’s been said that a boat is a hole in the water and you throw money into it. I suppose a wooded pier is much the same. As of this morning, highway 12 is still closed to traffic as NCDOT works to clear debris and rebuild dunes. The coastal storm of November 2021 was deja vu all over again.