Wood, Water & Craft 2017 North Carolina Wooden Boat Shows

Vintage photo of Skiff along Edenton BayI live along the Albemarle Sound — a region where water and land merge. Aerial views of the area reveal an intricate network of serpentine rivers and trunk estuaries. Waterways used to be the highways of the region so naturally, boats were an integral part of the culture. Wood skiffs with their shallow drafts were ideal for navigating skinny creeks and lazy rivers with depthless waters. These flat-bottom boats could be rowed, paddled or poled.

The expansive sounds of the region were relatively shallow but exposed so they were vulnerable to high winds. A number of historic boats were modified so that their designs were well suited to handle the shallow waters, shoals and weather conditions of the sounds. Some of these vessels were work boats or seine boats and eventually customized into Shad Boats. In the late 1800’s, George Washington Creef of Roanoke Island built the first shad boat in North Carolina.

shadboatmarsheslighthouse

Reproduction Albemarle Shad Boat in front of Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

The Albemarle Shad Boat was a traditional fishing boat known for being stable, able, strong and seaworthy. They were also capable of carrying large loads of herring or shad. In 1987, the NC General Assembly designated it as the North Carolina State Boat. Visitors to the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum can learn more about the region’s wooden boat heritage and view a shad boat on display at the center located in Manteo, NC.

The versatile Core Sounder was another original shallow water wooden work boat indigenous to the coast of North Carolina. These classic “sinknetter” fishing boats of the Core Sound region were used for trawling and long haul fishing. Wood was the material of choice for work boats and pleasure crafts before the advent of molded fiberglass.

Signature, Style & Grace

Another legendary pleasure boat with Tar Heel roots was the Simmons Sea Skiff. In the late 1940’s, Tom “Sims” Simmons was commissioned to build a fishing boat with a dory-like hull which could be launched off the beach and have room in the back for hundreds of yards of fishing net. His hybrid creation evolved into a very clever and stylish skiff that didn’t sink in the surf with its heavy payload. A few subsequent designs later, Simmons introduced a motor well and a high “raked” transom. Other modifications included a V-shaped bottom and longer and wider designs. The Simmons skiff quickly garnered a reputation and his business flourished in the mid-fifties. Today, the highly sought after rigs continue to steal the show at wooden boat shows across the east coast!

Simmons’ boats were originally built of Atlantic Cedar with mahogany framing. Later, Simmons started using Douglass fir plywood for planking. One of his signature features was the closely spaced bronze ring nails that fastened the planking. His joints along the planking were so tight that he never used glue or caulk to seal the wood. Another material he never used was fiberglass.

Wooden Boat Revival

The manufacturing of fiberglass along with other manmade materials in the mid 20th Century dramatically changed the culture of boatbuilding. Molded composite fiberglass materials allowed companies to mass-produce boats of all shapes and sizes. The cost of building boats was greatly reduced. This turned out well for pleasure boaters but wooden boatbuilding soon became a lost craft.

Fortunately for those of us who love the feel of wood on water, there has been a rebirth in both wooden boat construction and restoration over the past twenty years. Fairly recent technology and materials have spearheaded this back-to-wood revolution. Epoxy adhesives and urethane coatings have helped revolutionize the marine paint industry providing a more convenient and longer-lasting alternative to traditional paint and varnish maintenance. Marine-grade plywood, durable caulk and adhesives offer additional methods and alternative wood boatbuilding options.

For some boaters, wood might be considered artsy but it has also proven to be strong, durable and lightweight. Plus, it does not fatigue like manufactured materials. Its bending qualities allow for smooth and attractive form.

Boatbuilding may be a tradition and way of life for others but it can also be practical. Sure it may take more time in its artisan-like construction but most people with some woodworking basics can build a simple design in a relatively small space and with limited tools. In other words, build at a level suitable for your skill set and for the simple pleasure of the craft. At a recent boat show demo in Wilmington, I watched a craftsman and a 15-year old girl build the hull of a 12’ wooden dinghy in less than four hours.

Cape Fear Community College Boat Building Program

Living Reminders of a Rich Boating Heritage

I’ve talked to various wooden boat craftsmen and women who describe the building process as a love of labor while others admit that it’s more of a partnership with nature. Others confess that they gain a better appreciation for natural materials. One young student at Cape Fear Community College’s Boatbuilding School recently admitted that he “feels the history of the wood and the boat” whenever he’s working on a restoration project. A geometry of shapes, organized chaos and a rough draft still guide the modern day boatbuilder. And like their predecessors before them, some builders continue to build without plans and painstakingly puzzle together form into fashion.

Chris Craft Triple Cockpit 40's

Carolina Wooden Boat Shows – Bucket List

One of the best ways to get your own “feel” of wooden boats is to attend a classic or wooden boat show. Wooden boat owners are more than happy to share their stories and their personal relationships with wood, boats, restoration and the craft of constructing a boat. It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn more about the history and to develop a field guide knowledge about traditional boats. Some shows offer free rides and others have even have boats for sale. Regardless of the exhibit, there are plenty of family-friendly activities that accompany each show. Here’s a Carolina sampler of wooden boat shows and festivals along our coast. We also threw in a couple more outside the state to add to your maritime bucket list. Visit one of these maritime villages, get outside this summer and enjoy the timelessness of wooden boats.

CRCC Riverfront Wooden Boat Show 2017

Cape Fear Community College Riverfront Wooden Boat Show
Wilmington, NC
April 1, 2017
9:30am – 4:30pm

Although this year’s show has already passed, mark it down on your calendar for 2018. Held along Wilmington’s Cape Fear Riverwalk, the event includes 10 judging categories plus a special category for Simmons Sea Skiff awards. Come watch craftsmen and women demonstrate their craft, tour the college’s boatbuilding shop and enjoy a full day of wooden boat memorabilia. More info.

43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show

43rd Annual Wooden Boat Show
Beaufort, NC
Saturday, May 6, 2017
10am – 4pm

 The Southeast Tourism Society chose the oldest, continuously run wooden boat show in the Southeast as a “Top 20 Event” for May 2017. It is held along the Beaufort waterfront and includes the Carolina Maritime Model Expo, In-Water Boat Show, Wooden Boat Kids, and more! Free admission. Click here for more info and registration.

RDTboatshow

North Carolina’s Premier Antique and Classic Boat Show
New Bern, NC
Saturday, May 20, 2017
9am – 3pm

Come out to New Bern’s beautiful waterfront and enjoy the on-water “full-throttle” exhibition on the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society presents the event. The organization encourages first-hand experiences so some boats are available for free public rides. Check out the storyboards and educational displays to learn more about period boating, accessories and boating apparel. Visitors may vote on the People’s Choice Awards. The chapter provides a scholarship for the Cape Fear Community College’s Boatbuilding Program to help preserve this craft. Preliminary and post event activities for registered boat owners. Overnight docking is available at the show site. More info.

 

19th Annual Music & Water Festival Wooden Boat Show

19th Annual Music & Water Festival
Edenton, NC
June 2 & 3, 2017

Local wooden boat owners and builders share their skiffs, sailboats, dinghies and works-in-progress along Edenton’s historic waterfront on Saturday, June 3 from 10am-6pm. The on-land exhibition is part of the 2-day festival which includes a Friday evening sunset paddle, music in the park, paddle sport demos, arts and crafts, and more! Click here for more info and boat registration.

 

8th Annual Southport Wooden Boat Show

Southport 8th Annual Wooden Boat Show
Southport, NC
Saturday, September 30, 2017
10am – 4pm

The popular wooden boat show is held at the Old Yacht Basin and features both in-water and on land exhibitions. Visitors can meet and talk with wooden boatbuilders and owners. Boats will be judged on several categories from Best of Simmons to People’s Choice awards.

Additional events and exhibits include children activities; nautical displays; talks and demonstrations; maritime vendors and the award winning seafood chowder at the Taste of Cape Fear Tent.

Be sure to pick up one of the event’s beautiful t-shirts and a collector’s edition poster.

Click here for more info or to register a boat. Registration deadline: Wednesday, September 1.

tours Albemarle Sound Outer Banks

Roanoke Island Maritime Museum Wooden Boat Show
Manteo, NC
Saturday, October 28
9:00am – 5:00pm

The 6th annual event features new and restored wooden boats. The boats are displayed in the Creef Boathouse and Park, and in the water at the Roanoke Marshes lighthouse docks. Click here for more information and registration.

Out of State Wooden Boat Show Bucket List30th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival

Celebrate Father’s Day Weekend with a nostalgic tribute to the region’s treasured maritime history. Wooden classics, vintage race boats and Chesapeake Bay-related boats are displayed at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for the 29th annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival and the Arts in St. Michaels, MD. The event is hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society. More info.

28th Annual Georgetown Wooden Boat Show

Georgetown 29th Annual Wooden Boat Show
Georgetown, SC
October 27 & 28, 2017

The low country’s premier wooden boat show features more than 140 classic wooden boats ranging in size from kayaks to yachts. Boats will be displayed in the water and on land along Front Street. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and talk to wooden boat craftsmen, manufacturers, and owners. Weekend activities include a Friday regatta, boatbuilding contest, kids’ model boatbuilding, knot tying contests and maritime art and crafts. Music, food, beer garden and lots more! Click here for a complete schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

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NC Vote 2016 November General Election

Vote Early North Carolina

Selecting responsible leaders is our right and our responsibility – fortunately in our country, it is also a freedom. Voting is our basic democratic right, an American principle and a right that should be protected, advocated and exercised. One-stop voting kicks off Thursday, October 20 in the Tar Heel State. “During the one-stop absentee voting period, registered voters may vote at any one-stop early voting site in their county of residence,” according the the NC State Board of Elections.

Vote Early

One-stop or “early voting” is a convenient way to ensure that citizens have time to vote in our state. North Carolina’s early voting for the November 2016 General Election begins November 20 and runs through November 5. Early voting polling stations will open at 6:30 A.M. and close at 7:30 P.M. (Voters should check the one-stop absentee schedule in their county to determine specific hours for each early voting site). The NC State Board of Election Website states that one-stop voting provides an all-purpose solution for those seeking to:

  • avoid potential voting delays on election day;
  • vote on convenient days and during non-working hours;
  • avoid any registration conflict that could trigger the necessity of a provisional ballot on election day; or
  • update their voter records in their counties of registration if they have moved since last voting.

Election Day is November 8 and polls are open 6:30 AM–7:30 PM. You’re allowed to vote if you’re in line by 7:30 PM. For more info on early voting and voting locations, visit http://www.ncvoter.org. To view a sample ballot for your district, click here.

Plan to Vote by Mail?

Any registered North Carolina voter may request an absentee ballot by mail; however, the request deadline is November, 5 by 5:00 PM.  A civilian absentee voter must return his or her voted ballot in the container-return envelope provided to the board of elections in enough time for the ballot to be received by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day (11/8/2016). Click here for more NC voter information.

Voting is our Voice

Voting matters so cast your vote locally, regionally and nationally. Democracy works best when it is well represented. Voting is the foundation of a democratic society. Not everyone’s voice is heard when only half the country is voting so get out and vote and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to engage in the process.

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
– John Quincy Adams

Nearly two hundred years after Adams held the office of President, we should note that the only vote lost is the one that was never cast. Get out and vote and cheers to the world’s oldest democracy!

Go Democrats!

 

 

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Going Green in the Tar Heel State

ncgreentravelalbemarlesound

There appears to be an increasing trend of responsible travelers who consider the environment and sustainability when booking a trip, visiting a park or dining out at a local restaurant. Today it seems, “Going green is more than being cool, it is also smart!” From “green city” travel apps to eco-friendly lodging, more and more travelers, vendors, and travel organizations are choosing eco-friendly options. In May, Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International released an 80+page report that surveyed nearly 3,000 travelers. Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. Fortunately, the Tar Heel State offers a wealth of resources for the green-conscious traveler.

Businesses Strive toward a Green Standard

North Carolina’s GreenTravel Recognition Program is one of the most comprehensive in the nation. It was launched in 2011 becoming NC’s first statewide sustainable travel recognition program. Businesses that demonstrate a commitment to green tourism practices and achieve voluntary standards are eligible for recognition. These standards include compliance to regulatory rules and regulations, environmental protection policies, sustainability practices, waste reduction and recycling, energy management procedures and other guidelines.nc green travel initiativeGreen tourism operations include lodging, food service, attractions, museums, parks, vacation rentals, convention centers, festivals and other travel-oriented businesses. The initiative has been developed through a partnership of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service; The Center for Sustainability at East Carolina University; Visit North Carolina, and the Waste Reduction Partners program.

Tim Rhodes, Program Director of the NC GreenTravel Initiative, recently explained, “The purpose of the NC GreenTravel Initiative is to encourage a strong economy and promote sustainable tourism by awarding recognition to those businesses that apply and are accepted into the program.” The recognition program promotes robust economic growth and environmental stewardship in the travel and hospitality sector through the recognition of “green” travel-oriented businesses. Best of all, there is no cost involved in becoming a recognized NC GreenTravel business.

Digital Directory & Helpful Links

The website is a valuable toolkit for both residents and visitors traveling in North Carolina. Visitors to the site can browse a list or navigate a state map of Recognized NC GreenTravel members across the state. Tourism sectors are broken into several categories from lodging, dining, attractions, parks, festivals, vine & wine, nature-based and breweries. More than 100 businesses, parks, travel centers and other tourism sites are listed on the map and crisscross the state from Walnut Hollow Ranch in Hayesville to Cape Hatteras B & B in Buxton. Rhodes noted that there are 14 North Carolina State Parks participating in the NC GreenTravel Initiative including Merchants Millpond State Park in Gatesville, NC. The initiative has recently announced that Sustainable Farms can now apply for recognition. Farms currently listed on the program’s website include Hop’n Blueberry Farm in Black Mountain, Summerfield Farms in Summerfield, Ninja Cow Farm in Raleigh and Good Karma Ranch in Iron Station. These farms have met and exceeded the required criteria for becoming recognized as a Sustainable Tourism Farm.

merchants millpond state park

NC GreenTravel recognized Green Park – Merchants Millpond State Park

Whether you’re a business or traveler, you’ll discover a number of sustainable travel resources and links throughout the website – from NC Agritourism, tips for sustainable practices to green dining. Thanks to this exciting green travel program and partnership, NC travelers can now easily discover and support sustainable businesses throughout the Old North State.

Want to learn more? The North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (NC DEACS) can help businesses become more sustainable by providing them with non-regulatory, no-cost technical assistance and information. For information about the services provided by NC DEACS, contact tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov or call (919) 707-8140.

Green Trips & Tips Along the Albemarle Sound Region

 

 

Step back in time and stay at the Beechtree Inn located in Hertford, NC. Choose among five pre-Civil War houses perched along 40 acres. A few of the cottages are pet-friendly. After a hearty country breakfast, take a road trip to Merchants Millpond State Park. Rent a canoe and paddle the enchanted cypress swamp and millpond.

 

ncbirdingtrailalbemarlesound

Day 2. Enjoy a lovely north-of-the-sound drive to the Outer Banks. Start the morning along one of NC Birding Trails at North River Game Land in Camden Co. Spend a casual afternoon fishing or strolling along NC Aquarium’s Jennett’s Pier in Nags Head, NC. Be sure to buy some NC Local Catch seafood while your dining out or shopping at the local market.

 

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Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

tundra swans at Lake Mattamuskeet NWR

waveLINKS birding category

A visit to North Carolina’s largest natural lake has been on my ‘to-do’ list for nearly twenty-five years. I’ve read about the history of the lodge, the world-class birding and wildlife as well as the excellent outdoor recreation options. Last month, my wife and I took a day-trip to Lake Mattamuskeet and we instantly discovered it was well worth the wait.

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula and encompasses 50,180 acres of water, forest, marsh, and open fields. The shallow lake, which averages a depth of only two feet, covers approximately 40,000 acres. The surrounding marshes and woodlands provide habitat, cover and food for more than 200 species of birds. November through January is the prime season for bird watching considering the fact that over 12,000 ducks, geese, swans, herons, bitterns and other waterfowl winter on the refuge’s grounds.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has a comprehensive conservation and resource management plan for the refuge that includes water management for waterfowl, shorebirds and fisheries; cooperative farming; prescribed burning and deer management with public hunting. Through the preservation of wetlands and habitat, they also protect and conserve migratory birds and other wildlife. Education, interpretation and community partnerships are also vital strategies that the refuge implements. The Annual Wings Over Water Festival in October is a stellar example of how our national wildlife refuges successfully collaborate with local communities.

Great Egret Mattamuskeet NWR

Great Egret observed along the Wildlife Drive

 Seasonal activities

Whether you’re walking or driving, a number of trails, roads and levies provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. During the winter, the refuge management restricts access to some roads and levees from November 1 – February 28. However, approximately eight miles of levees and 12 miles of road are open year-round. Boating, canoeing and kayaking are not allowed during the winter. Check with management at the refuge headquarters for additional information about refuge regulations, restricted areas and permitted hunts.

The Hwy 94 causeway, Wildlife Drive and the refuge entrance road offer premier birding opportunities. The observation platform along Hwy 94 affords a panoramic view over the lake. The New Holland Boardwalk Trail along East Canal Drive provides convenient access to a cypress swamp and marshland. Also, there’s a trailhead kiosk, photo blind and benches for photography and observation.

Mattamuskeet Lodge

Mattamuskeet Lodge – originally a pump station

My wife and I took advantage of a beautiful January day and visited the refuge. We enjoyed the exhibits inside the Visitors Center and the grounds adjacent to the Mattamuskeet Lodge. This facility was originally built as a pumping station designed to drain the lake into productive farmland. Eventually, the project proved to be too costly and impractical. Three decades later the U.S. Government acquired the land and the refuge was established in 1934. The lodge and surrounding acres have been transferred to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Efforts to secure funding and restore the lodge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, are currently being planned.

American coots at Mattamuskeet NWR

American Coots – Mattamuskeet NWR

Further adventures

While touring Wildlife Drive, we stopped at several locations to observe Tundra Swans, Great Egrets, Northern Pintails, American Coots and White Ibises probing for food in the shallow waters. Several groups of birders and photographers were lined along the banks taking advantage of the splendid views.

Our first exploration to Lake Mattamuskeet turned out to be a sneak peek but a real treat and a good overview of the refuge, trails, facilities and access points. With spring in the forecast, we plan to return and explore the refuge in our canoe, skiff or on our bikes – maybe all of the above!

map of Mattamuskeet NWR

Map data by ©OpenStreetMap & contributors

Directions: Mattamuskeet NWR is located approximately 70 miles east of Washington in Hyde County, North Carolina. The headquarters entrance road is located off Hwy 94 1.5 miles north of U.S. 264 between Swan Quarter and Engelhard.

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North Carolina Guides to Craft Distillers & Breweries

wavelinkscraftdistillerstrail

Two new guides have recently been published just in time for the holiday season. The publications conveniently package their products into a resourceful map and guide that showcase the Tar Heel State’s craft spirits and brews. One leads the adventurer along a Craft Distillers Trail while the other entices folks with a comprehensive tour of North Carolina’s 181 breweries and 43 craft beer festivals.

North Carolina’s Craft Spirits

No doubt about it, from early colonial days to prohibition North Carolina has always had a rich heritage in the culture of making spirits. But instead of the bootlegging or moonshiner reputation, today’s legal craft distillers are often described as artisans, scientists and entrepreneurs. The state’s recent craft distillery business is beginning to blossom. Across the state, from the mountains of WNC to the Outer Banks, distilleries are creating spirits crafted from family recipes, locally sourced ingredients and lots of l-o-v-e. Some craft spirit enthusiasts refer to the growing trend as the farm-to-flask movement.

Recent NC legislation has made it a tad bit easier for distillers to sell their artisanal spirits on site with some mandated restrictions. The new law enacted October 1 2015, allows distillery permit holders, which offer guided tours, to sell one bottle, per person, per year.

Perfect Timing

About the same time the ABC Ominbus Legislation was passed, The NC Distillers Association and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services published a free Passport to the state’s Craft Distillers Trail. The handsome “Collector’s Edition” includes a 30-page pocket guide which features a map, an alphabetical listing of all of the distillers and detailed information about each craft distillery. Sticking with the passport theme, patrons can have their passports stamped at each distillery they visit and true to form, “Each seal is unique as its location.”

Our Albermarle Sound neighbors, Outer Banks Distilling are members of the NC Distillers Association and of course, they’re included in the Craft Distillers Trail. The local distillery is located in historic downtown Manteo and they lay claim as the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks. The small batch distillery creates Kill Devil Rum and Buffalo City Rye, which according to the guide are both named after local lore. I’ve personally enjoyed their delicious “molasses to glasses” premium white rum.

Speaking locally, Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Kill Devil Rum recently informed me that their Carolina pecan honey and seasonally spiced rum has hit the shelves at regional ABC stores. The premium dark rum was hand crafted in Manteo with pecans from Manns Harbor and honey from Wanchese. Can’t get more local than that! The seasonal rum can also be purchased at their distillery located at 510 Budleigh St. Come out and support the guys at Kill Devil Rum and pick up a bottle of rum and a copy of the passport. Last time I checked, the distillery was low on the popular passports. Also check for copies at all NC Welcome Centers. Click here for more info.

thegreatN.C.beer map

Photo courtesy of EDIA Maps

The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map

Charlotte-based EDIA Maps published this fun and clever guide in October. It is the brainchild of “map makers and adventure takers” Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright. In their original press release, the cartographers stated that, “The Great N.C. Beer Map provides detailed information on all the craft breweries in the state and can be used as a resource for planning a trip and tracking one’s travels. It is also an educational resource for understanding the art, science, and history of craft brewing.”

Over 200 breweries and beer festivals are featured on the map. Creative sidebars compliment the map and include information about the Science of Ordering, The Wild World of Beer and even an Illustrated History of Beer Games. Sounds like a spendid gift for those who love craft beer and boutique maps. Fisher suggested that The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map is the perfect tool for planning an excursion to various craft breweries in the state. She added, “We wanted to give people an idea of what the brewery experience would be like and what to plan for, while still leaving a few surprises to be discovered.”

Gift one of your friends, family or loved ones this holiday with a unique NC-crafted niche map or poster. Colorful folded maps are available online for $9.99 and unfolded NC beer memorabilia poster versions sell for $29.99. You can also pick up copies at the breweries and various retail locations.

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South of the Sound Autumn Fundraisers

pocosin arts columbia, NC albemarle soundHere’s a couple of special fundraisers to help welcome the fall season. These exciting opportunities feature two unique sound side centers. One event includes a benefit auction hosted by a regional arts center. The other fundraiser presents a family friendly paddling tour which benefits a local environmental/sustainable agriculture organization. Get out and support these organizations, which help promote a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural and natural resources of eastern NC. Have fun, plug-in and get involved!

 

Pocosin Arts Albemarle Sound

Annual Benefit Auction at Pocosin Arts
Columbia, NC
Saturday (9/26)
5 – 9 pm

Come out for an exciting evening of art, music, local seafood and fun! Pocosin Arts has been promoting the arts of the Albemarle Sound region with classes, workshops and retreats for more than 20 years. The non-profit center is located on the historic waterfront in Columbia, NC along the Scuppernong River.

Pocosin Arts

Circle Jar by Matt Repsher
2015

Several established and emerging artists have generously donated their mixed-media works of art. Featured artists include resident ceramic artist, Matt Repsher and renowned North Carolina artist Robert Johnson. Johnson’s work blends surreal landscape paintings and ‘field guide’ inspired botanical sketches. His paintings have been exhibited in the North Carolina Museum of Art, The Eno Gallery, The Asheville Art Museum and The Morris Museum of Art. All proceed benefit Pocosin Arts.

Click here to register and to view the complete schedule of events. $

 

Paddling Albemarle Sound

Fall paddling along the Albemarle Sound
Photo courtesy of Susan Johnson

Spruill Farm Fun Paddle
Roper, NC
Saturday (10/24)
7am – 3pm

Enjoy a fun full day of paddling, food and adventure along Kendrick Creek and the Albemarle Sound. The 5–7 mile excursion benefits the Spruill Farm Conservation Project, a 110-acre farm that engages in sustainable farming, environmental research and education.  A light breakfast and full lunch will be served.

To guarantee a commemorative t-shirt, register online by Friday (10/16), 2pm. Registration day of event 7–8:30am. Participants may bring their own boats or kayak/canoe rentals can be reserved in advance at Roanoke Outdoor Adventures. $

 

 

 

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Cycling Around the Albemarle Sound

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo's multi-use path.

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo’s multi-use path.

My wife and I recently moved to the land along the Albemarle Sound. Cycling the area has been a great way to discover the coastal region. I’ve always enjoyed exploring a new place while I’m running, hiking, walking or riding. You instantly get a ‘feel’ of the topography, smell the fresh tilled farms and develop a muscle memory of the landscape. There’s something about cycling that causes me to reflect upon a pleasant nostalgia of distant journeys, dirt-ball adventures and happenstance encounters. So whenever I clip in, saddle up and ride along the white line of the highway, I eventually contemplate the past, present and future. If you’re planning your own cycling adventure along the Albemarle Sound, here’s a few pre-trip planning resources that might assist you with your next ride.

Albemarle Sound Advice

North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation designated a system of bicycling highways. They publish free maps of each route. The state system of bike-friendly routes offer nine different routes that cover over 3,000 miles of lightly traveled highways. Several years ago, I traveled the 300-mile Ports of Call Route (NC Bike Route 3) from South Carolina to Virginia. The route leads cyclists along a historic colonial-era rendezvous of the Tar Heel state’s historic port cities and towns.

bike route

The Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation also publishes regional and local maps. One of the ‘go-to’ guides I suggest for cyclists of all levels is Bike Albemarle. The guide offers more than a dozen local loop routes, several connector routes and additional state and extended routes. The resourceful guide showcases interesting towns, points of interest, bicycle shops, restaurants and camping facilities. I’ve found the map the perfect planner and companion guide for local day-trips to weeklong outings. All of the maps provide a section of bicycle safety and NC state laws, which are useful for both novice and experienced riders.

Cycling the Outer Banks

There are several cycling options along the OBX albeit summer months may not be the best season for cyclists due to the increased traffic and visitation to the coast. The Dare County Bicycle Map offers a series of contiguous rides along wide paved shoulders, multi-use paths, and other longer routes including a section of the Mountains to Sea cross-state bicycling highway. The 7-mile side-path option along Roanoke Island offers a perfect outing for families. A number of historic sites and parks can be conveniently accessed along the trail including Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Maritime Museum, NC Aquarium and Fort Raleigh Historic Site.

Part of a rewarding and successful cycling experience begins with a detailed map and a trip checklist. So order a free set of maps to help you navigate the scenic backroads along the sound. Be safe and invite a friend along for your next ride!

cyclingalbemarlesound

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Craft Beer, Small Batch & Big Rewards!

Weeping Radish - craft beer on the Albemarle SoundA fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

I laughed when I walked in the pub and read the quote inscribed on the chalkboard. Down near the bar, a couple was test-driving a flight of small batch beer crafted on site at Weeping Radish Brewery Butchery & Pub. Over the past decade, North Carolina has quickly sprouted into one of the top craft-beer states in the nation. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, “The state boasts the greatest number (132) of craft breweries in the American South.” Weeping Radish can claim fame as being the Tar Heel State’s oldest operating brewery and one of three microbreweries located within the Albemarle Sound corridor.  The Currituck County brewery has “proudly brewed on the Outer Banks since 1986.”

The unique brewery-farm-pub often surprises travelers making their manic drive to or from the Outer Banks. The brewery is located on the Caratoke Hwy. which straddles a narrow strip of rural mainland bordered by Currituck and Albemarle Sounds.

My wife and I scheduled a brewery visit while looping the sound on a 180-mile driving tour. I wanted to sample the “handcrafted 100% natural beers” so I set off on my own flight plan which included a chance to taste the microbrewery’s signature brews and a couple of their seasonal ales. The friendly waitress delivered us a paddle of seven, gently brewed beers. I reviewed the laminated beer cheat sheet which was placed below the paddle and in the same order as the flight of craft beers. Perfect!

 

Weeping Radish's flight of craft beersThe Bitter Bee was first choice in my flight and definitely the one which sounded the most intriguing. This was the brewery’s version of an American IPA but distinctively brewed with locally sourced honey. My wife & I took turns sipping on the golden-colored ale. We both noticed a subtle yet lingering taste of honey. The IPA was light on the “hoppy” side and it had a  ‘creamier’ texture than most traditional IPA’s. My first take: A refreshing summer IPA with a slight hint of citrus.

The flight guide described their Ruddy Radish as a “bright ruby colored, well-balanced dry hopped with strong malt character.” The medium body ale had a slight but pleasant buttery aroma and mild notes of caramel. The OBX Kolsch may have been my favorite! The crisp, light and fruity flavor and medium carbonated beer paired well with the pub’s soft baked pretzel — so well, that I treated myself to a 4-pack of OBX Kolsch to share with my friends back home. Oh yeah, and a mixed pack of Ruddy Radish, Bee Bitter and Corolla Gold.

On your next outing to the Outer Banks, be sure to stop by the brewery or search for the fine local craft beer at this location.

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