How Do You Spell Relief? W-R-I-G-H-T-S-V-I-L-L-E

BY Bill Walsh


Ocean breezes sand between your toes quiet streets plenty of recreational activities and as a whole some of the warmest friendliest people you’re likely to meet. No matter how you spell it Wrightsville is a wonderful place to visit an even better place to call home.



Wrightsville Beach is surrounded by water; the majestic Atlantic Ocean on the east Mason Inlet to the north Masonboro Inlet to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. Water water everywhere and not a drop that doesn’t offer something in the way of fun.


There are recreational opportunities everywhere you turn on Wrightsville Beach. The surfing is unparalleled on the East Coast and the fishing is second to none but the beach also lends itself to swimming kayaking boating and sailing kite flying birding and biking. The town includes a vigorous parks and rec department that throughout the year sponsors outdoor concerts dance classes yoga and exercise instruction and a host of other activities. Many other communities claim they have something for everyone. Wrightsville Beach really does.


Wrightsville Beach is comprised of two islands Harbor Island and Wrightsville itself and certainly as expected of beach communities they harbor an island mentality. But Margaritaville it’s not. If the year-round residents — and the police department — have their way there won’t be any pop-top wounds on the strand where margaritas and other adult libations are prohibited.

The mentality orients toward family. We’ve got a good clean beach good clean bracing Atlantic water and a propensity toward good clean fun. That said downtown nightlife is lively and happy hour often stretches to accommodate both afternoon and evening.


In the surf off the pier along the inlets out in the ocean we’ve got it all. You can fill your freezer with the delicious species that live close to the beach or fill your walls with the spoils of battle with offshore game fish.

“One of the first things her California friend finds marvelous [about Wrightsville Beach] ” we wrote in December about Tammy Arlidge a resident of Malibu Calif. who owns a second home here “is the food. ‘They claim they have seafood but it is nothing like it is here ’ she said.” If you can’t get it here it doesn’t swim in the ocean.


Over the past century Harbor Island has gone from marshland peppered by small shacks to a coveted address. Though others have been involved with the transformation it was Oliver T. Wallace and his family who have developed and managed the property since 1927.

Oliver Wallace didn’t live long enough to see the tasteful fruits of his Harbor Island labors. He died in 1930 at the age of 46.

Later Wallace’s son-in-law E. Lawrence Lee Jr. served as president of Shore Acres until his death in 1996. During that time the island filled with dwellings commercial development was kept to a minimum and the company’s sound holdings were closely guarded with the exception of one sale a transaction that made Seapath Tower possible. Today Shore Acres still exists and the company retains ownership of a vast amount of marshland two conservation parcels on Harbor Island and a cottage on Fayetteville Street. Wallace’s grandsons Lawrence B. Lee James R. Lee and William Henderson comprise the company. — Susan Taylor Block


We cross the drawbridge every day a structure that makes it possible — or at least convenient — to live in Wrightsville Beach and it’s easy to not give a second thought to the man for whom it is named C. Heide Trask. We have learned to take the bridge for granted for one thing. For another the Trask name is so well known hereabouts that of course the family name is memorialized on the bridge. Just who was C. Heide Trask Sr.?

“My father was a highway commissioner in the 1950s ” C. Heide Trask Jr. told us “and the bridge was built during his administration. He died right before the bridge opened in June 1958. That his administration was instrumental in getting the bridge built led to its being named after him I believe.”


Sea glass by any other name would be as beautiful and indeed it goes by many another name — beach glass mermaid tears and lucky glass among them. Prized by jewelers and collectors sea glass is the result of at least three years of polishing by saltwater waves tides and sand. The sea washes these natural gems onto the beach. The most common colors of sea glass are white green and brown. Deep aquas cobalt blues seafoam greens lavenders and purples lime greens and rose are more scarce. Orange is the most rare. Cobalt blue sea glass is created from Vick’s Noxema Milk of Magnesia and Bromo-Seltzer bottles according to American Craft Works which deals in the glass and the jewelry made from it. The reds could be from older cars’ glass brake lights very old Anchor Hocking beer bottles or from stained glass windows dumped into the sea ages ago. Mason jars telephone insulators Coca-Cola bottles and beer and soda bottles make up most of the rest.

Keep your eyes open especially in the intertidal zone; the Wrightsville Beach strand is a rich depository.


There’s a saying made popular in recent years that it takes a village to raise a child. Nowhere does that seem truer than at Wrightsville Beach School where on any given school day a team of parent volunteers can be found reading to classrooms chaperoning a field trip helping to monitor P.E. classes…doing whatever is needed to ensure that the students receive the high-quality education they need.

In addition these volunteers give not only of their time but also of their money. In January the PTA invested almost $19 000 in various school supplies and other projects that otherwise would not have been funded. Throughout the year the PTA holds fund-raisers from family-dinner nights at local restaurants to the annual Fall Festival in October — by far the biggest money maker for the school.

WBS principal Pansy Rumley is particularly appreciative of the parents’ hard work year in and year out. “When we all work together ” she says “we achieve success.” — Abby Cavenaugh


Wrightsville Beach is separated from Wilmington by the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) a 3 000-mile recreational and commercial waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States some of which is natural some manmade.

The ICW was authorized by the Congress in 1919 and is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. Federal law provides for the waterway to be maintained at a minimum depth of 12 feet for most of its length but funding shortfalls in recent years have lead to a cutback in dredging. Consequently some neighboring communities notably Carolina Beach are experiencing problems.

In its entirety the waterway consists of two segments — the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway which runs from Brownsville Texas to Carrabelle Florida and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Key West to Boston.

Much of the recreational traffic that navigates our section of the latter consists of snowbirds who take their boats south in winter and north in summer.


Wrightsville Beach’s four miles of scenic shoreline is rivaled only by the second-most popular destination in town the Loop recently renamed the John Nesbitt Loop in honor of the man who over time and in bits and pieces oversaw the paving of the 2.47-mile sidewalk that connects North Lumina Avenue with Causeway Drive and Salisbury Street. By day and night it is in continuous use by walkers joggers strollers and bicyclists. By Nesbitt’s own account it took five or six years to complete the Loop. “It wasn’t all me ” Nesbitt said in 2001. “I had some folks in public works that actually got real interested in it and wanted to see it completed. It turned out a lot better than I ever thought it would. I never imagined it would turn out as well as it has. I never really did.”

— Marimar McNaughton


Loggerhead turtles nest in four states in the United States with North Carolina sharing the spotlight with South Carolina Georgia and Florida. Most of the baby turtles hatch within the boundaries of Florida but four nests were laid and successfully hatched here in 2006 releasing about 428 hatchlings to the Atlantic. The females among them that survive to breeding age will return to this beach when it is their turn to lay eggs in the sand.

The loggerhead was listed as a threatened species in 1978 and it is still considered “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because unfortunately not many of the females in last year’s Wrightsville Beach hatch will make it to adulthood. Experts estimate that only one in 10 000 loggerheads make it to adulthood and recent population studies have concluded that the number of females that nest in the southeast U.S. continues to decline. And there are significant threats to the nests that surviving females do lay.

Thankfully Wrightsville Beach is blessed with turtle guardian Nancy Fahey and her legion of volunteers who guard the nests when hatching draws near and shepherd the hatchlings to the ocean after they emerge.


Two fortuitous discoveries saved the Eastern Brown Pelican from near-certain extinction the first concerning the eggshell-thinning properties of certain pesticides about 40 years ago the second a more recent UNCW revelation that manmade dredge islands offered the birds nearly ideal nesting opportunities. DDE pesticides were banned in the United States in 1972 and in coastal North Carolina the Army Corps of Engineers has been hailed for cooperating with researchers in the placement of dredged sand.

The Eastern Brown Pelican was put on the endangered species list in the fall of 1970 and on the Atlantic Coast was delisted in February 1995.

The trappings of fishing remain one of the greatest threats facing the birds; abandoned fishing lines and hooks can entangle and injure pelicans which often rest near shore. When you fish please make sure you don’t leave fishing lines or hooks behind. Conversely if you find abandoned fishing line on the beach or wharf be sure to throw it away properly. And never ever use plastic six-pack rings near the water.