Whereas most B&Bs try to go for cutesy charm, this one goes for in-your-face extremism.
A former Coast Guard light station built on a modified oil platform in the middle of the ocean offers up accommodations for the daring. It’s an isolated environment where sharks are plentiful, perhaps best suited to a scary movie plot.
The decommissioned Coast Guard station where the B&B rests is named for the nearby community of Frying Pan, N.C., and the Gulf Stream keeps the light tower warm even in cool weather. The tower is located at the spot in the Atlantic Ocean where the Cape Fear River delta creates the Frying Pan shoals.
The eight rooms available for rent in the Frying Pan Tower are austere, featuring mostly utilitarian twin beds (though some feature queens) and rust-covered walls. The rooms are named for nearby North Carolina locales like Bald Head Island and Ocracoke.
The tower is in an area of ocean with the totally not creepy title, “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The area earned this grim reputation for its treacherously shallow waters that had a proclivity for grounding ships.
Indeed, the tower is situated in hurricane alley, and has weathered many a storm. In fact, the owner even documented Hurricane Arthur hitting the tower in 2014.
For those adventurous enough to brave it, the Frying Pan Tower offers skeet shooting, fishing, and also helicopter rides. You could have a potentially great weekend there. They have grills on deck for cooking up any fish you catch, if fancy dining it’s not. In addition, there’s a pool table for diversion. You can even hit a few golf balls off the side of the drilling platform if you want to practice your driving. Or just stargaze at the beautiful night sky in the middle of the blue Atlantic waters.
The history of the tower is actually pretty cool. Because the shallow sea created by North Carolina’s barrier island caused so many shipwrecks, there has been a light station in that spot since the civil war. Originally manned light ships illuminated the area, until the United States Coast Guard built the platform in the 1960s.
After GPS navigation became standard in the shipping industry, the US Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse in 2004. It sat vacant until 2010 when the government put it up for auction.
Initially, bidders offered in excess of $500,000 for the platform. Due to a technicality, however, the government discarded those bids. In the end, the lighthouse went to the sole sealed-bid, put in by the current owner, Richard Neal, a software engineer from Charlotte.
The creepy look of the lighthouse is due to its ongoing restoration. So who knows what it may look like when completed. Also, if you want to visit but can’t afford the price, the Frying Pan Tower does offer volunteer trips for qualified individuals who want to help with the renovation.
If you do have the guts to go sleep overnight (for a minimum three-night stay) in a rusty abandoned lighthouse in a remote location in the middle of the Graveyard of the Atlantic, hats off to you. Visit their website for more info.