Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014 Bald Head Island - From Stede Bonnet to Scotch Bonnette

Old Baldy and Old Glory together in the September sunshine
Taking a trip to the beaches along the coastline in the Carolinas usually involves crossing a lengthy bridge that is often tall enough to cross the Intracoastal Waterway. However, reaching the isolation of Bald Head Island in Brunswick County has always required the use of boat since time began. Today the short 20-minute ferry ride departs from South Port, N.C. and ends two miles away at the full service marina that serves as the gateway for all island connections.
Landgrave Thomas Smith of Charlestown secured a grant from the colonial Lords Proprietors on May 8, 1713 to secure this outpost and Cape Fear for trade with the Indians. During the Revolutionary War the British troops constructed Fort George, which repulsed an amphibious assault from American forces in September of 1776. A Confederate battery later reclaimed these fortifications as Fort Holmes to protect shipping interests from 1863 – 1865.

Bogan's On The Beach - our front beach rental property
Arguably the most popular facet of the island is the Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum near the marina. For a small fee, this privately funded lighthouse can be accessed and after climbing the 108-steps to the top, a panoramic vista reveals a coastal ecosystem that is fully intact. Volunteer Jo Betts Baxley told me that the lighthouse used whale oil from its inception in 1817, making it the oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. The nearby Oak Island Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station eventually replaced Old Baldy.

The marina is a ten-minute golf cart ride from the Shoals Club and offers two restaurants that promote both food and fun times. Mojo’s On The Harbor offers the best views of the marina and specializes in fresh seafood. Their bar is popular for those spending the afternoon on island time, and the die-hard fans of Mojo’s have logged more than a few happy hours. The Delphina Cantina serves up food with a Mexican flair and is moderately priced. If fish tacos and a cold beer are all that is required for meal time, then this cantina can do that very well.
The Bald Head Island Conservancy heads up the island’s sea turtle watches and the environmental education services. Their touch tank and learning center is open to the public and is run by a small staff led by Dr. Suzanne Dorsey who told me that the almost all of the island is an ecological treasure trove where wildlife abounds. Turtle walks, bird watching and even surf fishing classes are all available.

To view the entire article in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.
Villagers are year round residents 

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