By Jack Horan
Correspondent, The Charlotte Observer
Friday, Jun. 22, 2012
FRYING PAN TOWER More rust than rustic.
That’s how Richard Neal wryly refers to his 48-year-old light tower that stands in the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles off the southeastern North Carolina coast.... The tower has been deteriorating in the wind-and-wave-swept environment since Coast Guard crews left 33 years ago.
That is, until 2010. Neal bought the tower at auction, sight unseen except for a flyover, for $85,000... He and his wife, Rhonda, are breathing new life into the abandoned structure, once doomed to become an artificial fishing reef.
They’re converting it into a bed-and-breakfast for the adventurous, offering stays for up to eight on the 5,000-square-foot marine hideaway. The first paying guests, a group of four, are coming this weekend. The only neighbors are sharks, barracudas, sea turtles, sport-fishing boats and scuba divers. Cast a line and fish for black sea bass and grouper. Climb to the helicopter landing deck, sip a cool one and watch spellbinding sunrises and sunsets...
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