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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spend Labor Day in Emerald Isle and Enjoy Pristine Beaches, Local Arts & Crafts, Free Live Music, and More!

As the symbolic end of summer approaches this weekend, we want to encourage you to come and visit with us here on the coast of North Carolina over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Stay on our Emerald Isle beaches, play in our warm coastal waters, and savor the summer on our salty shores. We'd love to see you, your family, and your friends and celebrate the long weekend with you all. Extend the holiday and stay longer, if you can!

Let the kids shake off the back-to-school blues with some fun, sun, sand, and surf. They will thank you for it. And we definitely think that you should join them in the fun.

Take some time off from work, responsibilities, and the usual daily grind. Dig your toes deep into the soft warm sand, breathe in the moist salty air, feel the soothing touch of the coastal breeze on your skin, and view the magnificence of the crashing waves against the ever-changing shoreline. Ahhhhh, it is so relaxing and rejuvenating.

In addition to basking on our lovely beaches, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out and about to experience everything else we love about Emerald Isle and the Crystal Coast. The fun doesn't end when Labor Day arrives, it continues on and on and on... (Remember what we said about an endless summer in last week's blog post? It's true!)

In the town of Emerald Isle, visitors and residents alike enjoy the array of local events. Keep a close eye on what's happening during your time here; you don't want to miss out. Whether you enjoy beach volleyball tournaments, free Friday flicks, or live musical performances—you'll find it all, and so much more.

Speaking of live music, don't forget that EmeraldFest and SwanFest both provide great opportunities to groove to live musical performances while enjoying the local coastal surroundings. 

On Sunday, September 2, SwanFest hosts a free, outdoor performance by Acoustic Highway from 6:30-8:00p.m. at Olde Town Square in nearby Swansboro (right across the Cameron Langston Bridge from Emerald Isle). 

On Thursday, September 6, EmeraldFest hosts Caribbean performers Barefoot Wade from 6:30-8:00p.m. at the Western Ocean Regional Access in Emerald Isle. Free live Caribbean music at the beach, well what could be better than that? (See, you should stay longer than just the Labor Day weekend.)

Drive over to the historic waterfront town of Beaufort. Plan to spend the day there walking the waterfront boardwalk, admiring the yachts and sailboats, exploring the shops, and trying the local fare. If you're able to get there on Saturday or Sunday, be sure to visit the Beaufort Historic Site for the Carteret County Arts & Crafts Coalition Fall Show. It's a fantastic opportunity to browse and buy arts and crafts from our local coastal artisans during this juried show and sale. Plan ahead for the holiday season by purchasing some unique gifts during your time here.

There is so much we love to do here over the Labor Day weekend (and beyond). We hope we get to share some of it with you. If you make an annual trip to Emerald Isle over the Labor Day holiday, tell us about it. If you are planning to come this weekend for the first time, tell us about it. Our comment section is always open, and we welcome your comments. Happy Labor Day to you, wherever you may spend it!


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Enjoy an Endless Summer on the Crystal Coast

It doesn't seem possible that Labor Day 2012 will soon be here. Another summer is quickly flying by us.

By now, we hope you've taken some time out of your busy life to spend some down-time with us here on the beautiful coast of North Carolina.

If you have, we are happy to hear it and welcome you back anytime. If you haven't, don't despair. We have a little secret to share.
Most people tend to think that beach vacations are best had during the summer months. While we love summer here on the coast, it is not the only time you can enjoy our pristine beaches and iridescent waters. In fact, the approaching autumn months offer just as much natural beauty, fun in the sun, and rest and relaxation as the summer months do... maybe even more?
How is that possible, you may wonder. Well, there are several reasons for it.
  •  Ideal beach conditions. The temperatures stay moderate and the humidity drops as summer wraps up and autumn ensues. With the drop in humidity, the haze that often lingers on the beach is diminished and the vibrancy of the sky, the waters, the sunrises and sunsets, and the coastal greenery fully emerge. The Crystal Coast is situated near the confluence of Atlantic and Gulf Stream waters which gives it a nice temperance. The rainiest months are usually July and August when afternoon thunderstorms and cooling rain showers are more common. September, October, and November have minimal rainfall with the exception of tropical storms that may blow through the area on occasion every few years. The wind changes from blowing south off the ocean in the summer months to blowing from the north during the autumn months which allows for calmer beach surroundings.
  • Less crowds. Not that the beaches of the Crystal Coast are that crowded to begin with, but the autumn season is even less crowded than during the summer months. Enjoy a nice long walk on the beach and your only encounters may be with the seagulls, pelicans, dolphins, crabs, sand dollars, and starfish. (It's also an ideal time to fantasize about it being your own private beach, by the way. That's what we do, sometimes...)
  • Great day trips. Explore the nearby waterfront towns of Beaufort, Morehead City, and Swansboro. Take an afternoon to visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Enjoy the coastal drive along Bogue Banks from Emerald Isle to Fort Macon and experience the Civil War fort for yourself. Hop a ferry to Cape Lookout National Seashore. The weather will be picture-perfect, and you'll have less people to maneuver around during your adventures.
  • Off-season vacation rental rates and specials. Take advantage of the same great selection of accommodations often with the added benefit of discounted prices and special offers during the off-season months. From luxurious properties to beach and soundside condos, you'll find just the right place with just the right amenities.
So, we guess our secret is out. You can enjoy an endless summer by vacationing with us here on the Crystal Coast in the autumn months, and still enjoy all of the coastal pleasures that this area has to offer. We hope you take us up on it and check us out during the upcoming months, as we soon will be transitioning into autumn.

Have you vacationed here during the months of September, October, or November? What did you think? Tell us about your endless summer. We'd love to hear about it!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sea Turtle Nesting & Hatching Season in Emerald Isle

Perhaps you have walked out of your Emerald Isle beach house and decided to take a stroll along the shore. During your walk you notice some flagging tape and a yellow post with a number on it, often times set back near the dunes.

What is it, you wonder? It's a loggerhead sea turtle nest site. The loggerhead sea turtle is the most common seasonal nester on the Emerald Isle beaches. The female comes ashore from Florida to North Carolina to lay her eggs in the sand at night. She will lay about 120 eggs, cover them in the sand, and then head back to the ocean. The eggs are left there in the warm sand on their own to develop for about 60 days. Then they will hatch, and the hatchlings will attempt to make their way to the ocean.

Because loggerhead sea turtles are a threatened and endangered species, the Emerald Isle Sea Turtle Protection Program tries to locate and protect the nest sites and help the hatchlings return to the surf. The program is comprised of about 80 volunteers who walk the entire 12.5 miles of the Emerald Isle beach early each morning from May 1 through August 31 searching for evidence of  sea turtles that may have come ashore during the night to lay their eggs. The 200-350 pound sea turtles leave characteristic crawl marks in the sand up to 40 inches in width.

Once spotted, the volunteer walkers call in their findings, and the program coordinators quickly come to the site to check for the possibility of eggs being present. If found, the nest site is marked off by flagging and a yellow post with the nest number on it. The incubation period is anywhere from 50-70 days. On about day 50, the volunteers dig a trench about two feet wide and deep to help guide the hatchlings to the ocean. The flagging is extended along the trench. The exact time when the hatchlings will come out of the nest is unknown, so once the trench has been dug, volunteers start sitting at the nest from dusk to around midnight. 

The hatchlings can emerge at anytime once the sand gets cool and quiet. The hatchlings can hear vibrations in the sand from noise and a lot of movement around the nest. They do not normally emerge during the daylight hours because of predators and the extreme heat of the beach sand. Nests have hatched during rain storms because it gets darker from cloud cover and the sand cools. 

The trenches that are dug help guide the hatchling toward the ocean if the volunteers are not there to assist the hatching. The volunteers do not touch the hatchlings; they just guide them toward the ocean.

A hatchling will go toward the brightest thing they see which are often the lights on homes, the pier, and the street lights. At night, crabs await to try and get the newly emerged hatchlings. A hatchling has enough energy to swim for 4-5 days to make it to the Gulf Stream, which is a distance of 30-50 miles.

The exact locations and hatching dates are not advertised because of the Endangered Species Act. Members of the public are welcome to talk with the volunteers and to sit and wait along with the volunteers. If hatching occurs after dark, the volunteers request that there be no flash photography and no flashlights because of the potential harm to the hatchlings. Those items are a distraction and the hatchlings will by nature head toward the light.

Three to five days after the first hatchling emerges from the nest site, the volunteers conduct an excavation at the nest which usually occurs around 6:30-7:00p.m. Everything is dug up so that the hatched egg shells can be counted, undeveloped eggs can be discovered, and to release any hatchlings that were not strong enough to emerge on their own.

So, what if you're visiting us here in Emerald Isle and you happen to stumble upon some sea turtle tracks or spot a sea turtle on the beach? It is requested that you call the Emerald Isle Police at 252.354.2021. They will notify the volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since the female turtles crawl onto the beach during the night, the volunteers request that if you see a nesting turtle late at night, please stay back at least 30 feet. Please don't use any flash cameras, flashlights, or cell phone cameras as these items frighten and distract the turtles, which often results in them abandoning the nesting effort. If you want to watch, sit downwind of the turtle and quietly observe. Be prepared to witness an incredible event!

Since the sea turtle nesting and hatching season occurs form May 1 through October 31, here are some helpful hints for visitors and residents on the beaches during this time:

  •  Fill in all holes you (or your children) dig in the sand. Any holes that are dug in the sand can cause mother turtles to get stuck. It also can be dangerous for people walking at night as they could be seriously injured; so please fill up any holes that you dig in the sand.
  •  Keep outside lights off at night. They disturb nesting mother turtles and distract hatching baby turtles toward the light but away from the ocean, which is where they need to go.
  • Remove tents, toys, and beach gear overnight. Leaving them out could interfere with the nesting mothers coming ashore and/or the emerging hatchlings' journey to the sea.
  • Pick up trash.  Plastic bags are especially dangerous to sea turtles because they think they are jellyfish (their main food source) and will attempt to eat them (and then get sick). 
  • Fireworks are illegal in North Carolina. The noise keeps the mother turtles from coming on shore to nest and disturbs the baby turtles during hatching.
  • Call the police (252.354.2021) if you see any sea turtle activity. Remember, if you see a nesting or hatching turtle or anyone disturbing a marked turtle nest, please contact the police.
The Town of Emerald Isle feels it is both a privilege and a responsibility to protect its natural environment and its inhabitants. We hope our visitors feel that way, too. We love sharing our beautiful beaches with you, and we appreciate your help in maintaining and protecting our natural beauty.

If you would like additional information about supporting or donating to the sea turtle program, contact The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital, P.O.Box 3012, Topsail Beach, NC 28445. The facility serves all of the turtle programs along the entire coast. It is also a great place to visit if you want to see recuperating sea turtles.

Have you seen any sea turtle activity while vacationing here in Emerald Isle? Tell us about it in our comment section. We always love hearing from you!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pirate Invasion Returns to the Crystal Coast Town of Beaufort

Avast ye, landlubbers! The waterfront town of Beaufort is battening down the hatches on Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11 in preparation for the infamous pirate attacks by land and by sea.

During the annual Beaufort Pirate Invasion, these nefarious buccaneers intend to pillage, plunder, and do all those things that pirates do. They're even looking for some lads and lasses to recruit, so beware!

Beaufort has a history dotted with pirate encounters. One of the most notorious, Blackbeard himself, trolled the local waters of the Beaufort Inlet. The wreckage of what is believed to be Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, has recently been discovered in these waters and thousand of artifacts have been recovered. Many of these artifacts are on display in Beaufort at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

The history of the Beaufort Pirate Invasion is an interesting one. It initially occurred on June 14, 1747. Several privately owned Spanish warships with a government sponsored license to attack enemy shipping (also known as privateers) entered Beaufort's harbor and made off with several smaller ships. Since there were only 13 men posted to protect the town, the Spanish escaped with ease. 

Two months later, the Spanish privateers returned with the intent to take the town of Beaufort. With more than 58 militia men under the direction of Major Enoch Ward, these men attempted to thwart the privateers' invasion but ended up being driven from the town. The citizens fled and left everything behind, allowing the privateers to pillage and plunder the town without resistance. 

Three days later, Colonel Thomas Lovick and Major Ward gathered more men for a counterattack, finally driving the Spanish out. The story goes that without the assistance of close to 100 local townspeople and farmers, the militia may not have succeeded in the counterattack. Legend has it that several Spaniards died and were then buried in the Old Burying Grounds in Beaufort, also known as Queen Anne's Cemetery. The annual Beaufort Pirate Invasion highlights the events of this historic time.

During this two-day invasion, be on guard for roaming pirates, impromptu sword fights, and  lots of grog swilling. Prepare for pirate processions, encampments, sword-fighting shows, sword dancing, pirates on trial, and so much more. The schedule of events provides full details, times, and locations of all the scandalous adventures to be had.

Other highlights include the Buccaneer Revue, the Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle O' Run, and the Parley on the Waterfront. Featured Invasion artist Donna Nyzio will be on-hand, as well.

Just a few words of advice before embarking on this adventure. First, it may be wise to brush up on some pirate lingo. Second, it would be best for you to take up lodging in a different town (just in case). Finally, if anyone invites you to experience Davy Jones' Locker—run.... run for your life! Arrrrr!

Have you experienced (and survived) the Beaufort Pirate Invasion firsthand? Tell us about about your adventures, or misadventures, in our comment section. Ahoy, mateys!

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