Days on the Docks, Hatteras Style

By Molly Harrison | Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Day at the Docks

Wow! A shift of the wind, a temperature drop and that fall feeling is here. Outer Bankers are acting pretty giddy in this glorious weather. This morning I saw a runner with a giant smile on her face - just smiling and running in the cool northeast wind. Everybody I encountered on my morning errands, from the coffee shop to the chiropractor to the produce stand, seemed infused with a fresh burst of energy and brightness. And the commercial fisherman I'm watching from my window has on a hoodie. Haven't seen one of those in a while.

I love the first days of cool weather when we've just opened the windows again. I've ditched Pandora and I'm enjoying the droning hum of a weed-whacker and the smell of fresh-cut grass. I've heard a heron croak and the happy sounds of kids getting off the school bus. Of course the downside to that is being woken up by the garbage truck at 3 a.m. Seriously! Anyway, I love the feel of the wind blowing through my house. If I can't be outside when I work, at least now the outside can come in to me.

It looks like this cooler weather will last through the weekend (and quite possibly into the beyond), so it's a great time to get out and enjoy some outdoor activities. The Outer Banks is all about outdoor activities - from ocean swimming to sound kiteboarding to backwater kayaking to martime woods walking - so I know you won't have any trouble finding something fun to do. Take a look around all of our sites - just click on an area tab, then click on Recreation or Attractions and you'll be set with more options than you need.

I'm looking forward to spending some of my outside time at this weekend's Day at the Docks events in Hatteras Village, a celebration my family always tries to attend. Traditionally, Day at the Docks has been a one-day festival on the Hatteras waterfront. The main festival is still on one day, Saturday, but now Day at the Docks has expanded to four days - an entire weekend that the Dare County Commissioners have ceremoniously proclaimed "Dare County Waterman's Weekend."

"We've been doing Day at the Docks since 2005 and we decided it was time to kick it up a notch," says Susan West, one of the organizers of the events. "We're bringing in fisherfolks and seafood folks from different parts of the country and adding more events. We've got a variety of people coming to participate as speakers, authors, panelists, judges and competitors."

The overall event is billed as a "celebration of Hatteras Island watermen" but it's more far-reaching than that. It's really a celebration of North Carolina watermen.

"When you talk about watermen you have to talk about seafood," says West. "Seafood is very important to Dare County on a number of fronts. This is not just a celebration of one village's heritage. It celebrates the state's fishing heritage in a modern context. It's about the importance of maintaining commercial fishing in North Carolina and the public's access to our local seafood."

One of the new events this year is a public forum called "Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood" held at The Seaside Inn on Thursday. The forum will revolve around the question, "Are healthy fish stocks and healthy fishing communities mutually exclusive?" With local residents Susan West and Barbara Garrity-Blake moderating, panelists from Massachusetts, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Alaska will talk about the major threats to the marine environment and family-owned and -operated fishing businesses in their home ports and how their communities have coped with these threats. You'll meet a fisherpoet who spent four nights in a life raft adrift in the Bering Sea after his king crab boat burned; a fourth-generation shrimper from the Gulf Coast Bay; a Time magazine hero for the planet who has dedicated her life to working with small-scale, traditional fishing communities; and a redfish fisherman put out of work by Louisiana's net ban. The talk is free and begins at 4 p.m.

On Friday at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, a program called "Sons of the Pioneers" will be held. Historian Danny Couch will moderate a discussion with Hatteras native sons Spurgeon Stowe, Ernie Foster, Dwight Burrus, Homer Styron and Edgar Styron to draw out stories, memories and insights into changes in the fishing industry. While you're there have a look at the museum's new exhibit on the first 75 years of charter fishing in Hatteras.

On Sunday the final event will be a Shrimp and Grits lunch at The Seaside Inn with North Carolina food journalist and author Elizabeth Wiegand of The Outer Banks Cookbook.

Saturday's main event is the most family friendly and it draws both locals and visitors. Park the car (there will be shuttles running from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and the Hatteras Civic Center) or bike and prepare to wander among children's activities, games, live music and entertainment, competitions, demonstrations, cooking competitions, food booths and educational displays. You can tour commercial and charter boats and a Coast Guard lifeboat, watch commercial fishermen practice net hanging, laugh at the hard-crab races and mullet toss, paint a fish-print T-shirt with the kids, listen to local storytellers and attend the moving Blessing of the Fleet and boat parade. Throughout the day you'll eat delicious Hatteras-caught seafood, and if you hang out long enough there's a dance at night.

Here's the schedule for Saturday:


10 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. Gill Net Demo by Tall Bill -- Foster's Quay

10 a.m. & 1 p.m. Kids' Hard Crab Races -- Oden's Dock

11 a.m. Concrete Marlin Competition -- Willis Boat Landing

Noon Net Hanging Competition -- Village Marina Motel

1 p.m. Mullet Toss -- Breakwater Inn Lawn

2 p.m. Survival Suit Race -- Oden's Dock Fuel Dock


10 a.m. Dwight Callahan -- Seafood Cooking Demo (Dinky's)

10:45 a.m. Michael Peele -- A Fisherman's Day

11:30 a.m. Sharon Peele Kennedy -- Shrimp 101

12:15 p.m. Odens -- Seafood Cooking Demo (Breakwater)

1 p.m. Janice Marshall -- Crabby Ladies Pickin' and Yakkin'

1:25 p.m. Diane Wilson -- Clean Water and Fishing


10 a.m. Allen Burrus and Warren Judge of Dare County Commissioners

Johnnie Baum, Hatteras Island Poet

10:45 a.m. Susan West and Barbara Garrity-Blake, stories from Fish House Opera,

Hatteras Island and DownEast fishermen tales

11: 30 a.m. David Cecelski, The Ocean is Full of Music, stories of the menhaden fishery

12:15 p.m. Bob Zentz, original nautical music and sea chanteys

1 p.m. Robert Fritchey, stories from Wetland Riders, the battle for the

commercial red drum fishery

1:45 p.m. Dave Densmore, Fisherman Poet, poems about commercial fishing in

Alaska and the Pacific Northwest

2:30 p.m. Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies Marching Band

4:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony


10 a.m. to 1 p.m. DMF/Jefferies Seafood Interactive exhibit for children

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Children's Fish print T-shirts - Foster's Quay

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Outer Banks Catch seafood cooking Demos and Dock Chats

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. H.I. Cancer Foundation Chowder Cook-off

1 p.m. Sign up for Children's Fishing Contest

2 to 3:15 p.m. Children's Fishing Contest -- Hatteras Harbor

2 to 4:30 p.m. H.I. Cancer Foundation's Free Skin Cancer Screening

3 p.m. Local Seafood Throwdown Forrest Paddock of Cafe Pamlico vs.

Chef Seth Foutz of Ketch 55 Seafood Grill

4:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony

6 p.m. Working Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet

Plan on eating local seafood throughout the day. The Chowder Competition lets you taste and vote between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The event benefits the Watermen's Association and the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation.

OK, let's say you can't get to Hatteras this weekend. There's still plenty to do up here on the northern beaches.

You can stalk pirates in the Outer Banks Pirate Festival.

This four-day event kicks off on Thursday, with community events happening all over the Outer Banks. You can spend time with pirates at local restaurants Thursday through Saturday and on Saturday at the Pirate Encampment at the Kitty Hawk Kites Store in Nags Head. They'll have the requisite Scallywag School for Young Scoundrels, pirate games, pirate weapons, talk like a pirate, pictures with a pirate and a lot of other hoo-ha. Stop by the Nags Head store daily to pick up pirate clues. The pirates will be at Jolly Roger in KDH on Thursday and at Pamlico Jack's in Nags Head on Friday and Saturday. Click the link for a schedule.

Don't like glorifying pirates? You can hit the beach by Jennette's Pier in Nags Head to watch the Eastern Surf Championships. They start Sunday and run through the following Saturday. This is the 45th anniversary of the Easterns, and you'll see some good surfing here, no matter what the waves. Somehow the good surfers can work with whatever they've got.

You can head to Manteo on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon for the Manteo Farmers Market. Then go to the The Elizabethan Gardens for its Cooking Series on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You could do a little triathlon training. It's not too late to register for the Outer Bank Triathlon next weekend. Not interested? They need volunteers, so you could help out behind the scenes. Racing is getting so big on the Outer Banks. This weekend's Get Pinked 12K Bridge Run and 5K at the Elizabethan Gardens sold out quickly! Look for it next year, or sign up early for the next Outer Banks Running Club events - the Lost Colony 5K on October 13, the Outer Banks Gobbler 5K on November 22 and the Christmas Lights, Cookies and Cocoa on December 18. Don't forget the Outer Banks Marathon events either - the Marathon and Half Marathon on November 11 and the 5K and 8K on November 10.

Not too late to register for Triathlon presented by Outer Banks Sporting Events!

Keep looking around the site for fun things to do. Our Daytime Events and Nightlife sections are brimming with ideas!

Enjoy the weather and I'll see you outside.

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a two night stay at the Outer Banks Inn & a beginner hang gliding lesson from Kitty Hawk Kites!

For more information about The Outer Banks Inn, check out their website.

For more information about Kitty Hawk Kites, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Mary Krawiec!!!

You won a $25 gift certificate to The Blue Point Restaurant and a $25 gift certificate to Birthday Suits clothing and gift shop!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about The Blue Point, check out their website.

For more information about Indian Birthday Suits, check out their website.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.