Jennette's Pier Blog | Nags Head, NC 27959

Jennette's Pier Blog

Jennette's Pier celebrates fifth year

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian Pilot

Jennette’s Pier was quiet on a recent, sunny Monday afternoon except for two guys chatting as their fishing poles leaned against the wood railing. Fish weren’t biting. Water’s still too cold.

But plenty was happening otherwise at this 1,000-foot pier, the longest of its kind on the Outer Banks.
Jennette’s Pier marks its fifth anniversary this year after reopening as a state-owned facility. It serves as an oceanfront outpost for the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo, manager Mike Remige said.
The pier has fallen and been rebuilt through calamities like hurricanes and budget shortfalls since it was constructed by businessman Warren Jennette 77 years ago.
“This pier is a symbol of Nags Head, and it has been since it was built in 1939,” Mayor Bob Edwards said.
That Monday, three 90-foot-tall wind turbines churned, generating enough electricity to power all the lights on the property. Sensors measured water temperature in the surf below.
A dozen or so surfers took advantage of wave action over sandbars created by rip currents flowing along the concrete pier pilings.
Researchers carry out oceanography experiments in a wooden shed built on the pier deck. Inside are advanced computers and a trap door where divers can lower themselves to the sea on a steel platform.
An antenna atop the research shed receives wind, wave and current data from a buoy 9 miles offshore. A water treatment plant recycles 87 percent of the facility’s water use.
Inside the two-story, 16,000-square-foot pier house are a gift shop and a lobby featuring an aquarium of live local fish swimming around a replica pier piling. Close by is an interactive screen that, with a touch of a finger, identifies different types of phytoplankton and zooplankton. A conference room upstairs attracts groups from all over the state. Two weeks ago, Duke University officials met for a discussion on cancer research.
“I think educationally we have achieved all the goals we had hoped for,” Remige said.
Last year, the pier hosted nearly 190,000 visitors, 206 programs, including youth fishing camps, and 84 student field trips. Fishing fees and gift shop revenue generate about $1.2 million, enough to cover the pier’s operating budget, Remige said.
The structure was in disrepair and about to be torn down for a development when the North Carolina Aquariums Society stepped in and bought the 5-acre site in 2003. A few months later, Hurricane Isabel tore 500 feet off the wooden pier.
“We continued to operate what we jokingly called Jennette’s Porch for two more years,” Remige said.
That condition was not sustainable. The North Carolina General Assembly agreed to the state taking ownership. In 2009, construction bids came in at nearly twice the $14 million budget. The project was completed in 2011 for $25 million.
The pier deck stands 25 feet above the water, above the storm surge from Hurricane Isabel. Storms don’t push this pier around much, Remige said.
“It’s built like a bridge,” he said.
Two years ago, House lawmakers proposed selling the pier, reasoning that the money could go to other projects and that maintenance on the pier would get more expensive as years passed. The Senate and local elected officials objected, and the pier remained public. Last year, Nags Head passed ordinances making it difficult for anything else to operate there but an educational pier, Edwards said.
“It’s kind of like the people of the Outer Banks,” Edwards said. “We might get knocked down, but we come back better than ever. The pier has done that.”

Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159, [email protected]

at Monday, March 14, 2016

N. C. Surfing History

History of N. C. Surfing

hosted by Maritime Museums anD Jennette's pier

The North Carolina Maritime Museums and Jennette's Pier will host an evening program on the history of surfing in North Carolina. The free event takes place at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head on Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m.

Join Museum Curator John Hairr and Associate Curator Benjamin Wunderly from the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort as they take a look this sport of kings and share their research on North Carolina’s role in the history of surfing.

There will be several presentations and video footage that helps tell the story of wave riding, board shaping and why North Carolina’s coast is an East Coast surfing destination.

The presentation will focus on the early history of surfing along the Carolina coast, investigating influential figures such as Alexander Hume Ford, a South Carolinian and a major contributor to the spread of the sport from Hawaii. The Surfing NC Timeline project and North Carolina's place in the history of the sport of surfing will be examined.

At first glance, the North Carolina coast, its waters, and its weather may not seem as conducive to surfing as those of Hawaii or California, but in fact, the Outer Banks is one of the best spots for surfing on the East Coast. Since the 50’s and 60’s, multitudes of surfers have made pilgrimages to places like Rodanthe, Avon, and Buxton to take advantage of the notorious swells. Cape Hatteras juts out far into the Atlantic where the Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream, making it a magnet for anyone who wants to catch a great wave.

In Dare County, surfing may have been brought over directly from Polynesia itself. Hawaiian Willie Kaiama and his team of performers gave surfing demonstrations at Roanoke Island and Virginia Dare Shores in 1928 as part of the events marking the celebration of Virginia Dare Day.

Later, in in the 1930’s, Thomas Fearing of Manteo was surfing with his hand made Hawaiian style board, which was big enough to hold two people

Other early surfing spots in North Carolina include Onslow County, where Marines from Camp Lejeune and their families have gone surfing while on leave, and Wrightsville Beach, where local Burke Bridgers and his friends were experimenting with surfing techniques in 1909. Surfing was even noted as taking place around Morehead City and Beaufort in 1911.

“As of now, we cannot say unequivocally that surfing along the East Coast of the United States started in North Carolina, any more than other locales in the region can make the same claim” says Hairr.

“We do know that surfing along the North Carolina coast was being practiced at least as far back as the first decade of the 20th century, which makes it coeval with the point in time when surfing, which had nearly died out, was undergoing a revival in Hawaii. There are also some intriguing hints that surfing in North Carolina predates the famous surfing exhibitions of George Freeth in California in 1907, which many acknowledge as the birth of the sport along the West Coast of the United States,” he said.

Today, surfing and the beach go hand in hand, but there was a time not too long ago where it was seen as an exotic novelty or a passing fad, but over time it has evolved into a worldwide pastime; a typical beach activity done in every country that borders an ocean.

The presentation will give visitors an opportunity to learn about the history of surfing in our own corner of the world. There is no advance registration and walk-ins are welcome to attend the event.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring the History of Surfing to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head,” stated David Cartier, Public Relations Coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museum system. “Surfing is synonymous with the Outer Banks so we feel the program will draw a great crowd.’ he said.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum system will also bring The History of Surfing in North Carolina program to the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. It will be part of their popular Third Tuesday Evening Adult Program on August 16. For further details, contact the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport at 910-457-0003.

Jennette's Pier is located at 7223 S. Virginia Dare Trails, Nags Head, NC (Milepost 16.5). For more information, call 252-255-1501 or visit Admission to the event is free. Donations are appreciated.

Posted by Daryl Law at Tuesday, March 1, 2016

©   North Carolina Aquariums. All rights reserved. : :   Memphis Web Design by Speak