Lounging In A Deckchair As Hurricane Matthew Rages

Open Jaw

A North Carolina man and his fiancée rode out Hurricane Matthew on top of an old Coast Guard light station more than 50 km off the Atlantic coast.

Richard Neal is the owner of Frying Pan Tower, a platform that towers 100 or so ft. above the ocean, accessible only by helicopter or boat. While the 360° views of sunsets and sunrises are amazing, there's no land in sight. Neal purchased the light station from the U.S. government after the Coast Guard abandoned it in 2004, saying GPS and radar made the light station obsolete.

As reported earlier on Open Jaw, Neal rents the tower out as a vacation home, touting the mild weather and good fishing in the Gulf Stream below.

"I can honestly say that this is a solid old beast," Neal said of the light station during a brief phone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday as the centre of the storm turned toward him. "We are getting some amazingly huge waves that make it shake and tremor," he said. "But steel is amazingly tough."

Neal said he was confident the tower would be safe because he "accidentally" rode out Hurricane Arthur on it 2 years ago. That time he and his guests got trapped by the storm and couldn't leave. Arthur and Matthew had about the same wind speeds as they approached North Carolina.

"We knew all the tower would do is shake and leak," he said. In fact, Neal was so blasé that he was photographed lying on a chaise lounge on the top of the platform, as Hurricane Matthew raged around him.

Neal said he coordinated with the Coast Guard and acknowledged he would be on his own should anything happen to the tower.

He and his fiancée talked about going back to the mainland 2 or 3 times, he says, but made the decision to stay. "You know she really must love me if she came out with me," he said.

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