It’s been 2 weeks since the class of 2019 has been in the Outer Banks, and what a fun 2 weeks it has been! These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activities and information as we have all been getting to know one another and have all been getting ready for a busy and productive semester. Some of my favorite activities we have done have been the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum and the boat tour!

Pea Island Cookhouse Museum

One activity we all enjoyed was the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum. This is a non-profit and family-run museum in Manteo that brings a forgotten piece of African-American history to life. This museum tells the story of many men who risked their lives for others before the Coast Guard was created. Shortly after the Civil War ended, there were “life-saving stations” up and down the coast that helped save people from shipwrecks, storms, and whatever else the sea had planned for them. What was so remarkable about this time was the limited technology the men used to help rescue people, and the dangerous tactics they had to use (especially during big storms!). The motto of the museum is “Freedmen. Surfmen. Heroes”, which perfectly depicts the men celebrated here.

We learned of the personal story of Richard Etheridge, the first African American man to become a “keeper” (the highest rank) of a life-saving station along the coast. Etheridge and his crew were the first all African-American crew of a life-saving station! Once during a category 4 hurricane, Etheridge and his crew saved every last person on a shipwreck that was spotted by a crew member just off the coast from their station. Most of the tactics they usually used to save people were not working in this storm, so to save every last person on this ship, each individual man swam out and they all connected arms until every person on the ship made it to land. Once the storm was over, the captain of the sunken ship went out to see if he could salvage anything. He came back with a plank of the ship’s name, “E.S. Newman”, on it and gave it to Etheridge and his crew. This was the first and only thanks the crew received out of the hundreds of lives they saved.

The plank given to Etheridge and his crew as a token of appreciation.

I think this museum was so powerful to me because it shows how much history Manteo has. It helped me realize how much there is to learn by living in the Outer Banks and that we need to take advantage of the opportunities here while we can. Furthermore, this museum shed light on a piece of forgotten history. Prior to this activity, I had no knowledge of the surfmen who risked their lives to help save others. We learned that in 2010, Etheridge and his crew received the recognition they deserved and finally got awarded the Gold-Life Saving Medal by the Coast Guard. However, many people still do not know about this rich history, so let’s spread the word!

Boat Tour

Another fun activity we all did was a boat tour of the area. The days leading up to the boat tour no swimming was allowed on the beaches and the water was incredibly rough; however, the morning we left the water was as smooth and beautiful as glass. Corey was our exceptional captain as he maneuvered us around the area and

On the boat!

pointed out important landmarks. We also learned a lot more about the sound, fishing, and fun places to relax. The best part about the boat trip, in my opinion, was how much fun we all had together. After just two weeks, it feels like we’re already a big, happy family! Our group gets along really well and I can always expect to laugh when we’re all together. Towards the end of the ride, we pulled up to a little beach to swim and explore for a little bit. We all walked the beach, found cool artifacts, some of us belly-flopped (actually just Connor belly-flopped, twice), and we made sandcastles! Another notable thing that happened on the trip was our grasshopper friend we made. For the majority of the ride, this single grasshopper sat on top of the speaker and jammed out with us! He swayed and moved to the beat of the music, so of course, we all freaked out and got really excited about it. However, halfway through the trip our grasshopper friend left us and jumped in the water. RIP! Even though the grasshopper left us, we all still had a great time and learned a lot about the area we are going to be studying.


Grasshopper friend sitting on speaker!
Our first look at the water on the boat! So pretty!



Overall, I think we are all greatly looking forward to this semester! Although it is going to be a lot of work, I think our group will have a good time and learn about what we’re all interested in a really cool way through the capstone, our internships, and the classes we are taking. Until next time!