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    A New and Very Improved Oregon Inlet Fishing Center

    May 2, 2024

    Offering panoramic views of Pamlico Sound, the Marc Basnight Bridge and Bodie Island Lighthouse, a new and vastly improved Oregon Inlet Fishing Center has just opened its doors to the public. The new, two-story building includes a retail store, ticketing area, and a restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the marina.

    The new fishing center building is situated where the original fishing center was once located. That building, though, was destroyed by the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962.

    There is little chance the new fishing center will suffer the same fate. The National Park Service, which owns the property, insisted the new building be constructed with coastal resilience in mind. The business areas of the structure are eleven feet above sea level.

    Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, Boats, and Restaurant
    Photo: Sea Chef Dockside Kitchen

    The entire project, which still has a few steps to go to be completed, cost the lessee, Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, LLC, approximately $4 million.

    Upgrading the facility began in 2018 when a new 20-year lease was signed. The first piece of the puzzle was an improved docking area for the charter fleet that uses Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.

    Some of the improvements were part of the lease agreement with Cape Hatteras National Seashore. For example, an improved bulkhead running the entire 1700-foot length of the commercial docks was required, and the design that was put into place should need relatively little maintenance for the next 20 to 30 years.

    Other improvements to the dock area, though, were done by Oregon Inlet Fishing.

    In the past, when boats had to refuel, there was an overwater fueling station. This system was inefficient—boats had to drop their customers off at the dock, then leave the slip and refuel. It also had a greater potential for fuel spills.

    The new system is an in-slip fueling system. After dropping off their passengers, boat captains can refuel in their slips.

    Although it’s not quite finished yet but will be very soon, the Coast Guard will have its own refueling dock. The dock may be somewhat overbuilt, but the managing owner of the fishing center, Russ King, told reporters who were given a preview of the new site that the fueling pier had to be available in all conditions.

    “It’s built to withstand probably a 50 foot (Coast Guard) boat on a strong southwest wind,” he said. “This puppy is not going anywhere.”

    Other improvements exist or will soon be made. At one time, there was a gas station at Oregon Inlet. That, too, was destroyed by the Ash Wednesday Storm. That feature is being brought back. There’s a practical reason for the pump. King pointed out that there are 24 miles between gas stations heading south from Nags Head.

    “It provides a fuel service for vehicles because the closest one is at Whalebone (Junction) and then down at Rodanthe,” he said.

    The project’s centerpiece, though, is the new building.The first floor includes retail space, a ticketing area, and a small museum. Upstairs, there is the Sea Chef Dockside Kitchen and a conference room.

    Mac Buben will be running the kitchen with his father, Jeffrey, and, as Mac explained, the plan is to have something for everyone who visits.

    “If you want to come in at the bar and just have a drink and a snack (or) you want to get some food to go whether it’s tuna salad, pastries,” he said. “Or if want to have a proper meal with your family and get something that’s a little more substantial, an entree dish, but serve it here (or) you can take it to go.”

    Buben remembers coming to Oregon Inlet when he was growing up and he’s hoping now to bring some of that feeling back.

    “Me as a kid, we always came down and watched the boats come in. That was the main event,” he said. “We want to be a part of bringing that back where you can come out, have a drink, have great fresh food, and enjoy being at Oregon Inlet.”

    Most of the work on the new and much improved Oregon Inlet Fishing Center has been finished, although there is still one major project to go—demolishing the old fishing center built in 1963 following the Ash Wednesday Storm. That should take place in the next six months.