The new Nags Head pier, officially called the The North Carolina Aquariums Jennette’s Pier, is getting closer to completion every day. The hurricane-resistant project’s most intriguing characteristics, which also include a conference center, sealife displays and classrooms, are the three towering windmills that span its 800-foot reach into the Atlantic.
In an area pocked by the scars of harsh, hurricane-enriched coastal weather tantrums, this is a bold move for the Town of Nags Head. The pier succumbed to the environment completely in 2003, when Hurricane Isabel erupted off of the coast of North Carolina and Virginia. Apparently, the new version is resting securely upon concrete pilings buried 40 feet into the tideline.
Last week, I surfed under the shadow of cranes and the whirring of wind power, taking advantage of the new sandbar formations that have made an already decent pier break even better. Plus, with no fisherman or local officials to tell us otherwise, we could glide into the established distance barriers that normally restrict surfers from interacting with pier-folk.
It’s good to see the towns in the Outer Banks still so invested in their livelihood, given the borrowed time on which most of the established areas out there live. The thin barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks and specifically, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, have proven a dependable protector of the state’s people that live and thrive amongst its coastal rivers and waterways.
However, like Jennette’s Pier and the Bodie Island Lighthouse, which currently sports an exoskeleton of scaffolding as part of its own re-nourishment effort, the Outer Banks is an environment under perpetual, natural renovation. Winds and tides are forever sculpting the beaches and dunes into new shapes and heights, caring little for the products of man that have been built in their path. Mother Nature, it seems, is a perfectionist, never quite satisfied with what she has spread across her canvas. And, like many artists locked in trench warfare with their creativity and physical talents, occasionally she spouts off, angrily creating something drastically different than what was envisioned in the initial sketch. Yet, the final product of such an outrage, intentional or not, is often its most beautiful rendition.