Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The New Jennette's Pier.

Saturday morning, I attended the grand opening of Jennette's Pier. I waited until Sunday to actually go out on the pier. Saturday crowds were heavy.
Saturday's wind was northwest which was great for the paratroopers. The wind had shifted on Sunday and was southeast, bringing all the smoke from the wildfires to the Outer Banks. The haze you see here is smoke.
You can buy a fish plank for $200. Smoky.

In 1929, a Swedish steamer, the Carl Gerhard, sank in the surf near the seven mile post, but its deck remained above the water's surface. Soon after, enterprising fishermen traveled from shore in a small rowboat to fish from the ship's deck. They enjoyed the fishing for a few years, until the ship disappeared beneath the water's surface. Recognizing the value of being able to fish in the surf zone where boats could not safely anchor, Warren Jennette, Sr. of the Jennette Fruit Company in Elizabeth City, had a vision to build an ocean fishing pier, similar to one he had seen in Kure Beach, NC. Jennette's vision became reality when one of his sons founded Jennette's Pier in 1939. William S. Jennette (known as Bill) purchased 570 feet of ocean front property, along with several abandoned buildings formerly used as housing by the Works Projects Administration for approximately $2000. Construction began in May 1939, with the help of his brothers and Virginia Dare Salvage and Construction Company. The pier was completed in July 1939, extending 740 feet into the ocean, complete with lights for the extremely popular sport of night fishing. The cabins were converted into rooms for visitors. The total cost of the pier and pier house was $6000. Warren Jr. (one of the Jennette brothers) was manager, with the help of his father, Warren Sr., who retired in 1940. The first pier only lasted 4 years. Built from untreated wood, it collapsed into the sea in 1943. At the time it was thought that the salt in the water would preserve timbers from worms that eventually destroyed it. Further damage was caused from "The Great Atlantic Hurricane" in 1944. The pier was rebuilt in 1947 with treated timbers after World War II by Warren Jennette Jr., who purchased the pier from his brother Bill. Jennette's Pier was at the hub of activity as the Outer Banks became widely known as a fishing and vacation destination. Business thrived for many years due to the determination and dedication of Warren Jr. With time, the harsh and brutal environment of the Atlantic Ocean dealt several severe blows and eventually led to the downfall of Jennette's Pier. In 1960, Hurricane Donna unearthed an old shipwreck and the sea above it through the middle of the pier and then beached the wreck about 75 yards north of the pier. That wreck was rescued from the beach and is displayed at the Nags Head town hall. The pier was repaired after Hurricane Donna, but its new life was short-lived. In March of 1962, a devastating nor'easter, known as the Ash Wednesday storm, destroyed the pier and the pier house. Only three pilings remained. Following the Ash Wednesday story, the Hooker Brothers of Elizabeth City rebuilt the pier. The early WPA cottages were replaced from 1962 through 1963.

The pier is beautiful.
1000 feet long.

This is an educational pier. This panel tells you how to clean a fish.
This panel gives you size and bag limits.

Fall. September - November Fall is the prime time for pier and surf fishing. In September and October, schools of migrating baitfish swim close to shore and are pursued by bluefish, speckled trout, and red drum. Anglers line the pier railings when spot, croakers, and sea mullet are running. Winter December - February Winter water temperatures can dip below 40 degrees, and few fish are found in the surf zone. However, striped bass prefer cold water and winter months can be good for striped bass fishing. Like humans, fish respond to surrounding temperatures. Fish cannot add or take off a layer of clothing so the only way they can regulate their body temperature is to move to water in their comfort zone. Fish in their comfort zone are more inclined to eat and anglers are likely to catch them. Some fish, such as pompano, prefer warm water. Others, such as striped bass, prefer cold water. Many species of fish migrate seasonally along the coast. Their movements are triggered by several factors including water temperature, weather conditions, and the amount of daylight available during a 24-hour period. In the spring, fish swim up from the south and from deep, offshore water. Many, including red drum, speckled trout, and cobia continue northward into the Chesapeake Bay. At summer's end, the ocean water cools and these fish migrate southward again along the Outer Banks. During seasonal migrations, piers can slow or temporarily stop the fish and hold large schools of them. That's why anglers often fish on the south side of the pier in the spring and the north side of the pier in the fall.

Spring March - May Spring's weather may be pleasant, but the ocean is cold. As water warms to 55 degrees, skates, dogfish, and puffers arrive. They are followed by croakers, sea mullet, bluefish, speckled trout, red drum, and gray trout. Summer June - August Summer's warm, clear, and calm water triggers the arrival of seasonal visitors such as Spanish mackerel, spadefish, king mackerel, sheepshead, and pompano. They prefer water from 67 to 85 degrees.

Pier etiquette.

Different types of fishies.
Hurricanes and nor'easters are as much a part of the Outer Banks as sea and sand. Hurricanes have a warm core. Typically they form over tropical and subtropical oceans and are fueled by warm water. In 2003, Hurrican Isabel, with 105 mph winds, 25-foot waves, and an eight-foot storm surge, caused catastrophic damage on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. Three fishing piers, including Jennette's Pier, were destroyed. Damage in Dare County totaled nearly 350 million dollars. Nor'easters can have hurricane-force wind gusts. They are cold-core, low-pressure systems and thrive on cold air. Most hit the Outer Banks between October and April. The Ash Wednesday Storm hammered the Outer Banks in March, 1962 and opened an inlet north of Buxton. A bridge was built to connect severed Hatteras Island, but it was destroyed the following December by another nor'easter. Eventually the inlet was filled with sand piped from Pamlico Sound.
Wind direction and velocity can change the nearshore water temperatures dramatically in a short period of time. During the summer, along the beaches in Nags Head, brisk offshore winds will cause the surface water temperature to drop by several degrees in a short period of time. This sudden change is a result of "upwelling" when the warm surface water is blown away from the beach and the cold, dense water near the bottom rises to the surface. The air temperature in August could be 90 degrees, while the ocean temperature is a bone-chilling 60 degrees. This may discourage swimmers and cause fish in the surf zone to move offshore, seeking water that makes them comfortable. Upwelling brings nutrient-rich water, attracting more fish to the Outer Banks and creating successful fishing experiences.

Here, nearly 1000 feet from shore, the water is about 25 feet deep. Big fish, such as 100 pound tarpon and cobia or 50 pound red drum and king mackerel may swim close to the end of the pier. When conditions are just right in late summer and early fall, small Atlantic sailfish and dolphin, usually found more than twenty miles offshore in the Gulf Stream, may surprise a lucky fisherman.

Hatteras Island island is a globally recognized surfing destination and known to many in the surfing world as one of the best surfing beaches on the East Coast. The orientation of the Outer Banks allows these barrier islands to receive swells from both the northeast and the southwest. When the waves are up, surfers gather at several locations "in town" between Nags Head and Kitty Hawk and at well-known surfing breaks on Hatteras Island, such as the "S Curves" near Rodanthe, the former site of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, the old road near Avon, and the Frisco Pier. Each year since 1971, Hatteras Island has hosted the annual Eastern surfing competition, the Championship held by the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA). The ESA is the largest amateur surfing association in the world. This event determines which of the top surfers from the East Coast will make it to the USA surfing championships.

During the winter, from December through March, several species of whales may be seen from the pier as they migrate off the Outer Banks. Bottlenose dolphins are plentiful throughout the year.

Surfers regularly gather along the Outer Banks where the continental shelf narrows and the warm Gulf Stream and cold Labrador Current collide, creating high energy waves.

Wind turbines, such as the ones here at Jennette's Pier, are expected to be an integral part of our nation's energy mix for decades to come. Clean, renewable sources of energy generate electricity for millions of Americans each day. By 2021, they will account for at least 12.5% of the power provided to North Carolina electric customers, including those of Dominion North Carolina Power. Dominion is a partner in two wind farms in Indiana and West Virginia. A single wind turbine at one of those facilities can rise as high as 400 feet from the ground to the tip of a turbine blade, and produce enough electricity to serve 625 homes and businesses. Many commercial wind farms in Europe operate over ocean waters, yet thus far none have been built in the U.S. A recent University of North Carolina study revealed that commercial-scale wind power development is feasible for many areas of the coastal ocean off North Carolina, as this area is blessed with superb wind resources - perhaps some of the best in the nation. Winds over the coastal ocean blow more intensely than those over land, so the potential for power generation is greater. The best winds are found over the coastal shelf, at sufficient distances from the shore that the turbines should not represent an objectionable interference with ocean views. Here at the Pier, three 10-kilowatt Bergey Excel-S turbines spin gracefully above the deck. At maximum output, the turbines are capable of providing over half the Pier's electrical needs. Each turbine rests on a 90-foot tower and its three blades span 23 feet. When winds reach 35 mph, the rotors turn away from the wind to limit rotor speed, but still produce power. When winds subside, the turbine returns to its normal position. The Pier also harvests energy from the sun. The Offshore Pavilion is covered with photo-voltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. That power is stored in a battery bank until needed to power the Pier's lights at night.
At well over 1000 feet, Jennette's is easily the longest fishing pier on the North Carolina coast and one of the longest in the United States. It's roughly 22 feet wide and sits 25 feet above mean water. Its 257 concrete piles measure up to 80 feet in length and were driven into the sea floor to a depth of 35-45 feet. The massive structure has been designed to withstand the brutal waves and current often delivered by hurricanes and nor'easter. LEED Certification Jennette's Pier is on schedule to receive platinum-level LEED certification from the US Green Building Council. This prestigious award is only presented to those buildings that meet the highest design standards of energy conservation, sustainable construction, and environmental responsibility. The Pier will be the first State-owned building to receive this designation in North Carolina. To reduce energy consumption and maximize efficiency, the pier house uses a closed-loop geothermal HVA system. Eight wells 200 feet deep circulate fluid that returns to the building at a consistent temperature to provide heating in winter and cooling in summer. Though this technology is not new, it is becoming increasingly popular for homeowners and businesses looking for way to reduce energy costs. Water conservation measures were incorporated in the Pier's design. Rainwater cisterns capture roof runoff to provide irrigation, deck wash-down, and vehicle cleaning. Onsite waste water treatment returns reclaimed water to the Pier and bathhouse toilets. These two features reduce municipal water use by 60-80 percent. Rainwater washing over paved parking areas is a major source of urban water pollution. The Pier's pervious parking areas collect rainwater in underground vaults that allow filtration before a slow release into the sand below. This technique greatly reduces the risk of harmful pollutants entering the sound or ocean. The UNC Coastal Studies Institute and other universities and agencies are using the Pier to conduct research on ocean wave energy, sea level rise, and other topics. Two North Carolina record fish were caught off the old Jennette's Pier - both by the same angler. Robert Keller caught a 710 pound hammerhead shark in 1961, followed by a 610 pound dusky shark the following year. For a variety of reasons, shark-fishing is no longer permitted on the Pier. Jennette's Pier was built for $25 million, with most of the funding coming from Aquarium admission receipts, grants, and private contributions. The Pier is self-sustaining, with fee revenues and donations used to cover operational expenses and staffing. North Carolina has been losing its ocean fishing piers at an alarming rate. In the early 1980's, thirty-six piers lined the coast, but hurricanes, nor'easters, and rising coastal property values have conspired to reduce their numbers. Today, fewer than twenty remain in operation. But these coastal icons have long been a great source of family recreation and are important features for a thriving coastal tourism economy.

For more information about Jennette's Pier, check out their website:

1 comment:

SweetPhyl said...

Rosie, I found the new pier to be awe inspiring and feel very proud that it has made Nags Head its home. It's going to be a landmark, not only for the Outer Banks, but for the east coast. Thank Goodness for Senator Basnight!