There’s something about the smell of the waterfront. The brine of the sea, sun-baked into the docks, fusing with the diesel from the boats, the likes of which have seen countless hours offshore. Co-mingle that with fresh cut bait, a hot basket of hush puppies, and the result is somehow intoxicating, exciting and comforting all at the same time.

All you have to do is start heading west, and you’ll find yourself at the OBX Marina & Tiki Bar. A place where folks come to work, play and support their local community.

“My favorite part about working here is getting to be a part of my community and getting to know everyone,” says Anna Rustin, manager of the Tiki Bar.

With a hefty fleet of charter boats, commercial boats, marine mechanics, welders, seafood markets — you name it — this is a working community with deep roots that thrive on hard work, tradition and family.

Something for everyone

Located in the heart of the fishing community, just a short drive from the central beaches and 6 miles from Oregon Inlet, you will find OBX Marina & Tiki Bar. It’s in the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park, nestled perfectly against Broad Creek and the Roanoke Sound.

Salt air? Check. Fresh breeze? Check. Fun times? Check, most definitely, check.

Owned and operated by the Umphlett family, the marina is in the perfect locale, Rustin says.

“Whatever you end up doing, this spot has something for everyone. You can book a fishing charter, a dolphin boat tour and even get your picture taken with the ‘Wicked Tuna’ boat,” Rustin says, referencing a popular reality television series about commercial tuna fishermen.

When the day is done, and your feet hit dry land, you can round it all out with a tasty grouper taco or an array of other tasty treats from Tilletts Seafood, 708 Harbor Road, and then enjoy some live music at the Tiki Bar.

While this crew seems to enjoy their fair share of work and play, giving back to the community is an item always top on the docket.

Rustin and the Umphlett family are great friends. The two teamed up to launch an annual fundraiser to support a cause close to Rustin’s heart: Autism research and support

Rustin, who has a background in early childhood education, worked with the Autism Research Center in Washington. She knows how important it is to raise funds for autism research, and her friends know how important it is to her.

Together, they organized the first Dare County Special Olympics BBQ fundraiser, which took place last summer.

Rustin says this year’s event — which is set for Sept. 3 — includes a barbecue dinner, raffles, a silent auction, live music by Johnny Waters and Co. and dancing.

“This a great place that not only supports the local economy but also works to give back to those in need,” she says.

Proceeds from the event ensure that all Dare County Special Olympics participants are equipped with the proper uniforms, able to train and compete and have travel expenses covered to state games, swim meets and enjoy outings, such as horseback riding.

The Dare County Special Olympics serves over 76 school-age children, as well as adults.

In 2016, the barbecue fundraiser raised $10,000, and private donations nearly totaled the amount raised.

“My experiences have made me grateful for all the things we are capable of,” Rustin says. “Now we just want to continue helping and giving back. …We want to ensure that nobody gets left out.”

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