From uninhabited islands to monogrammed oyster knives, our staff has come up with an array of suggestions for the N.C. Coastal Federation’s first Coastal Holiday Gift Guide.
Money was no object here. The only thing we asked our staff was to limit their suggestions to items that have something to do with the marine environment.
Give a Gift of Clean Water.
Here’s a sweet stocking stuffer that won’t cost you much and will keep giving the year round. Membership fees and donations are primary sources of operating income for the N.C. Coastal Federation. Individual gift memberships start for as little at $35 a year – business and group membership start at $50. For that student on your list, memberships are $15. Recipients will receive a gift package that includes the federation’s full color 2014 calendar and Our Coast magazine.
You can also help protect and restore coastal habitats while giving a child a special holiday gift. Select from ocean, sound or river package. Each Habitat Heroes package is $30 and comes with a plush animal – dolphin, hermit crab or river otter – with information about the animal’s habitat. Call us at 252-393-8185 to order.
How About Shrimp in That Stocking?
Or two dozen blue crabs? Maybe some jumping mullet, bay scallops or flounder fillets? Seafood markets on the N.C. coast offer gift certificates that can used year round. If you don’t know of a market that sells fresh N.C. seafood, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a directory to help you start your search.
Here are two we’re particularly fond of: Full Circle Crab Co. in Columbia and Clyde Phillips Seafood in Swansboro.
Willy Phillips, the owner of Full Circle, is an old friend of the federation and a long-time coastal advocate. His online shopping service is a great way to support fishermen while enjoying or gifting some incredible seafood. Prices range from $8.95 for one pound of ready to eat smoked mullet fillets to $166.85 for the “Feast of the Coast,” which includes a dozen jumbo soft shell crabs, two pounds of flounder filets, two pounds of Pamlico Sound shrimp, one pound of smoked shrimp, one pound of sea scallops and two pounds of smoked mullet. Seafood is fresh frozen and vacuum sealed, and can be shipped. N.C. Coastal Federation members get a 10 percent discount.
Phillips Seafood is celebrating its 60th year in business and is now the last seafood market in Swansboro. All seafood sold here is locally caught. Federation members get a free pound of shrimp for every 10 pounds they buy. Call 910-326-4468 to order.
Shucking Oysters in Style
For the oyster lover on your list, the monogramed 8-inch oyster knife by Harbor Island Oyster Co. is a showstopper. The 3-inch blade is sturdy enough to tackle the large, stubborn Eastern oysters that are native to our coast. The hand guard is oversized to help protect your hands from the oyster if the knife slips during shucking and features a flat edge to rest the knife on the table. When it’s not shucking oysters, the knife looks marvelous with the initials engraved on the blade. Price: $35.
We also like Harbor Island’s Ultimate Oyster Lover’s Bucket. The galvanized metal tub includes two engraved oyster knives; a copy of A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Roman Jacobsen that may change the way you think about oysters forever; a pair of oyster gloves; butter warmer; and Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Price: $125.
More Than a Pretty Shirt
Hayden Hammond, an artist in Marshallberg in Carteret County, offers a fishing shirt that not only is stylish but also provides protection from the sun. The long-sleeve Speck Snack shirt features a beautiful, full-colored Hammond drawing of a speckled trout about to devour a shrimp. It provides up to UPF +50 solar protection and is made of fabric that wicks moisture. Price: $34.75.
Get Her an Island to Call Her Own
For the person on your list who has everything, here’s something we’re fairly certain she doesn’t have: Her own island. Private Island Online, which bills itself as THE private island marketplace, offers three uninhabited islands on the N.C. coast: Bell’s Island in Core Sound near Marshallberg, Cedar Island in Pamlico Sound and Long Point Island in Currituck Sound. The islands range in size from 56 to 270 acres. Prices: $895,000-$6.7 million. Gift wrapping is extra.
A Rugged Water Shoe for Rugged Water
The Newport is the foundation of the Keen footwear line. It’s designed to perform in the adverse conditions of the marine environment. They cover your toes to protect you from nasty cuts from oyster shells and provide excellent traction on land and on the slick surfaces of boat decks or river rocks. Though well-made, they do fade a bit in the N.C. sun. Price: $80-90 at Zappos.com.
The Ultimate Fillet Knife
Dexter-Russell Inc. is the largest maker of professional cutlery in the United States and traces its lineage to the early 1800s. Throughout its long history, the company has maintained a tradition of excellence in materials and workmanship. It shows in the V-Lo fillet knives. These knives have high-carbon steel blades with individually ground and honed edges. The patented slip-resistant handle is soft to the touch but provides the firmness you need for the precise control to fillet that doormat flounder. They come in six-, seven- and eight-inch lengths. Price: $27.60-$30.45.
A Bird’s Eye View of the Crystal Coast
Southern Air in Beaufort offers air tours of Cape Lookout, Shackleford Banks, Bogue and Core sounds and other natural attractions in Carteret County. Watch the wild ponies of Shackleford and spot pods of dolphins in the sounds or even humpback whales offshore. All tours are flown in Cessna 172 aircraft and leave from the airport in Beaufort. Prices: Tours starts at $50 a person for 30-minute flights to Cape Lookout. You can customize your own tour for $100 an hour.
Unfurl Those Napkins
Dress up holiday tables with these hand-carved driftwood napkin holders, which are designed to look like sailboats when paired with napkins. They’re made from authentic driftwood with wooden dowels. Ocean Swept also offers shelves and other unusual items made from driftwood. Prices: The napkin holders are $19.50; shelves start at $45.
Take That IPhone Anywhere
Lifeproof cases for Apple phones and tablets are tough, allowing you to comfortably take your IPhone or IPad to the beach or around saltwater. The cases are waterproof and shockproof and keep sand away from your device. They are a little pricey, but if you spend any time in or near sand or water, they’re worth it. Price: $80 for iPhone, $90 for iPad.
A Fisherman’s University
Give the fisherman on your list three days of schooling led by some of the top inshore fishing guides in the state. Down East Guide Service, which is a collection of sports fishing guides based primarily in Oriental in Pamlico County, are offering what it calls a Fisherman’s University Sept. 9-11 at the River Dunes subdivision in Pamlico County.
Participants will get instructions in such things as throwing a cast net, tying essential knots and rigging light tackle for speckled trout and striped bass. Four on-the-water seminars and fishing trips in the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound are planned.
Price: $1,450 a person, which includes meals but not accommodations. Call 252-671-3474 for information or reservations. Tell Capt. George Beckwith that we sent you and he’ll donate 10 percent of your fee to the federation.