Welcome to our blog, At Home With Topsail! Here we will discuss the history of Topsail Island, the real estate market and area happenings around Topsail Island. Please feel free to comment, we'd love to discuss Topsail with you!

June 7, 2020

Electric Bike Rentals Come To Topsail, NC

RadCity Step-Thru

Mutiny EBikes recently announced they will soon begin to rent electric bikes on Topsail Island, NC.

Electric bikes are a very cool and new kind of bike. These "ebikes" offer a powerful electric motor that give the rider pedal assist or full electric throttle with no pedaling.

The pedal assist is great if you have an injury and need a little help pedaling or if you are pacing your workout. The fullthrottle with no pedaling is really cool if you just want to feel the breeze in your hair while sipping your favorite beverage while cruising along Topsail Island's very long bike path. 

Mutiny EBikes offer two different selections of electric bikes, the RadCity and the RadMini. Both boast speeds up to 25 mph and have a range of up to 45 miles before charging!

The RadCity is a larger bike that is perfect for taller individuals but does adjust to shorter statures. The RadMini fits most adults and even folds up for easy transportation!


Mutiny EBikes will set up shop in late June out front Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.'s office located at 320 N. New River Drive in late to mid June. They will offer daily and weekly rental packages. Lewis Realty is working with Mutiny Ebikes to secure a special promotional deal for Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. vacation rental guests. 

You can keep up with the Mutiny at their website, https://www.ebiketopsail.com/ or on their facebook page, https://facebook.com/mutinyebikes.

Feb. 20, 2020

Temporary Beach Accesses - Topsail Island

This is not official words from the Town of Surf City or NCDCM. This is my interpretation of a meeting held on 2/19/2020.


On Feb. 19, the Town of Surf City held a public meeting with residents, property owners, management companies and CAMA to discuss access to the beach for oceanfront properties. 

The town has been hauling and pushing sand onto the beach for a few weeks now in an effort to correct recent erosion.  This has created what many thought was a new dune. However the current rules and regulations in the State of North Carolina define a dune as having stable vegetation. Obviously the new "dune" does not have that stable line of vegetation. Therefore the Division of Coastal Management has the opinion that the newly created pile of sand is a berm. 

Current regulations prohibit any development past 5 feet of the stable line of vegetation. So it layman's terms, this means we can not place permanent structures to cross the newly created berm.

This no doubt will cause many complaints from your renters as access to the beach will be complicated crossing the berm with no aid of steps or decks. It ultimately may affect your future rental bookings and bottom line as well. 

There is a small loop hole though. The Town and the Division of Coastal Management do recognize that this is a huge issue for the island. They just don't have the rules in place to provide solid solutions. However, they will consider temporary measures to aid in people crossing the berm to reach the flat part of the beach. 

Several temporary measures that were discussed were posts with rope, 2 x 4 framed steps embedded in the sand (see photo below) & Hatteras ramps.

The process to gain permission to install a temporary mechanism for crossing the berm is fairly straightforward. You will need to submit a line drawing of your proposal and a photo of the area to the Town of Surf City and NCDCM. These drawings do not need to be engineered which will save time. Once sent it seems you would have an answer in approx 1 week if it was permissible. 

Every oceanfront property owner or home with a beach access needs to put some attention on this matter before our vacationers show up disappointed that they can not safely access the beach. Our rental season usually starts to kick off in the March to April time frame so time is of the essence. 

I am here to assist you in this matter. Please email me at chris@topsailarea.com for assistance or questions. You may also want to download the handout that was given to me at the meeting.

Thank you,

Chris Rackley


Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. 


(Sample of Temp. Berm Steps Provided By Town of Surf City)


Link To Handout From Meeting

Feb. 13, 2020


Blackbeard The Pirate's Flag - Topsail Island NC

For Topsail Island, gone are the “Golden Days of Piracy” but the local legend still abounds.

Local lore takes us to the early 1700’s on a totally uninhabited Topsail Island with no bridges, ferries or the like. At this time, the eastern seaboard was home to the only ports for the “New World” with locations like Charleston, New York, Wilmington NC, and Bath Town, NC (present day Bath).


Queen Anne of England had recently done some “corporate restructuring” and laid off her fleet of hired pirates or “privateers” but there was opportunity abound in the new world.


Many of Queen Anne’s newly unemployed privateers did as any self respecting gentleman would do, start their own business; the business of self privateering.


Now in those days, if you were to glance out at the horizon, you would probably see Schooner and Freighter ships passing along our beautiful island on their way to the next port carrying precious metals, spices and supplies for the colonies.


Off our very shores of Topsail Island, names of history like Stede Bonnet, Charles Vane and the most notorious; Blackbeardsailed in search of their next catch, a heavily laden ship.


There was so much sea traffic off Topsail Island in those days that pirates really did not have to set sail to search for their catch, rather they would hide out and wait for some unlucky sailors to sail past them unbeknownst to the plight they had sailed into.


The Pirates were expert sailors, navigating their shallow draft “sloops” through the shoals and shallow inlets of present day Topsail Island hiding in the channels just behind the 220px-edward_teach_commonly_call'd_black_beard_(bw)island where they could quietly watch the sea lanes off our shores.


The shipping sailors soon learned of this new strategy and begin scanning the dune lines of Topsail Island in search of the pirate ship’s “Top Sail” barely showing from behind the island. Hence, local legend tells that is the original source of our island’s name, Topsail Island (pronounced TopSul).


Once the pirates sited the freighters from their crows nest, the chase was on and victory was had by the pirates more often than not. The lore of yester year places the most Notorious pirate, Blackbeard as a frequent to Topsail Island while on his favorite route from Charleston, SC to Ocracoke Island, NC and Bath Town, NC.


Blackbeard (actually referenced as Edward Teach, Edward Thatch or Edward Drummond) was a man of over six feet Blackbeard The Pirate Visited Topsail Island NCwhich was very tall in the 1700s. Blackbeard was a master at psychological warfare and feared from Barbados to New York. Blackbeard would tie cannon fuses and sulfur matches in his long braid beard, light them and become the devil incarnate in the eyes of his opponent as he showed no fear and gave “no quarter” (mercy). Topsail Island PiratesCan you imagine a man almost a foot taller than you, with fire in his beard, smoke around his head, pistols strapped to his chest, swinging a cutlass with another strapped to his hip, yea, and you can get the picture.


Legend tells us that Blackbeard often visited the shores of Topsail Island and even gave Topsail Island his most prized possession, his treasure!


Many have searched extensively for this treasure and there actually is a story of this treasure for local years.


Near the south end of Topsail Island, in the town of Topsail Beach, there is a seemingly bottomless hole; the locals call it the “Gold Hole”. In the mid 1900’s, a team of treasure seekers came to Topsail from the North and identified that hole as the hiding place for Blackbeard’s treasure. They spent many weeks in the “Gold Hole” working until late at night. But one morning, they were gone with no warning, as if they had never been on Topsail Island. Some say the “Gold Hole” is no longer, as the treasure of Blackbeard was found and left on that summer night.


There are even legends of Ghost Ships from the Golden Age of Piracy along our shores.


At the southern end of Topsail Island, there is a barren island called “Lea Island”. Lea Island’s southern inlet, Rich’s Inlet is now a very shallow inlet although in the 1700’s was a deep and wide inlet which sailing ships frequented.


Many say if you are boating with your radar on, just as you pass Rich’s Inlet in the ocean, you may notice a “blimp” or “target” on your radar screen sitting just inside the inlet. You look back, but there is nothing there. As you cruise by, the “blimp” begins to move slowly out the inlet, coming into the ocean just behind you and then rapidly begins to track behind you . . . Just as Blackbeard did over 300 years ago!


I, the author (Chris Rackley) cannot attest to the hidden treasure or other local lore although I can tell you that I have seen this “Ghost Ship” on several occasions throughout my life. Is it Blackbeard? Is it Stede Bonnet? No one knows but we do know it is there!


Whether coming to search for the lost treasure of Blackbeard or catch a glimpse of the Ghost Ship . . . . Come to Topsail Island and see what you think!

Feb. 11, 2020

Ed McKenna Named Vice President - Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc of Surf City is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Ed McKenna to Vice President.


McKenna started with Lewis Realty Associates, Inc in 2011 after over 30 years in the real estate industry. McKenna fast became a top producing agent of the firm in a very tough market as a result of the financial crisis and housing industry collapse. McKenna was identified by several banks who held foreclosed properties and assisted them in liquidating 100s of their assets which aided in the repair of the local real estate market. The skills McKenna honed during this time has proven beneficial today with his certain aptitude to successfully move properties where other agents have failed.  McKenna has also represented many developers, builders, investors and completed a transaction with the North Carolina ABC Board.Ed McKenna - Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. - Topsail Island NC


In 2014, Lewis Realty Associates, Inc completed a successful acquisition of another original Topsail Island real estate company, Bryson and Associates, Inc. McKenna was appointed to head Lewis Realty’s sales department at that time. Since that appointment, McKenna has recruited top agents and grown the department exponentially to become one of the area’s leading companies.


McKenna has also been instrumental in the local Topsail Island Association of Realtors by serving as their president for 3 terms in 2012, 2013 & 2018 and receiving their coveted Realtor of the Year Award in 2012.


Lewis Realty Associates, Inc President Chris Rackley said “When the company had the opportunity to recruit Ed we knew it was a must do. Ed’s track record since has solidified that decision and he is a tremendous asset to not only the company but the local real estate market.” 


Posted in Company News
May 2, 2017

Rackley, Beasley, Medlin & Parris Win Achievement Awards

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc is proud to announced that on Friday, April 28, 2017 - Chris Rackley, President was awarded the Topsail Island Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year award.

The award is given each year with the winners being selected from chamber and community nominations. The strict criteria includes but is not limited to community, chamber and business involvement in the Great Topsail Island area that enhances an already great community.

Topsail Chamber of Commerce Award Winners 2017Rackley, also a past Realtor of the Year, said afterwards, "I am very proud to have this award and bring it back to the main Lewis Realty office to share with the staff. This award truly is also for them as well with all the great support and time they have given to the company's and community's goals. Without them, this would not have been possible".

Jean Beasley, the director and founder of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital in Surf City, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award. Rackley said, " Ms. Beasley is a living legend and always comes to mind when thinking of Topsail Island. She has done much for the community and the endangered sea turtles."

Doug Medlin, the current mayor of Surf City and owner of East Coast Sports, also won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Medlin has been a life long resident and local business owner of several businesses throughout the year and also served on the Town Council for many years. Rackley said, "I was very pleased to hear Mr. Doug received the Lifetime Achievement Award not only is he a great asset to the community he is a man of values and treats everyone more than fair."

Tammie Parris won the Woman of the Year award for her tireless efforts with the Woman's Connect Program, The Topsail Island Chamber of Commerce and recently earning her college degree all the while having personal challenges of her own. Rackley said, "I did not have the pleasure of knowing Tammie personally but after hearing her story and her efforts she is very deserving of this award and others. She has amazing drive!"

The Topsail Island Chamber of Commerce is located at 13775 Hwy 210, Surf City, NC. It hosts many events and promotions throughout the year including the Topsail Island Jeep Week, Tag Party, Business After Hours and more. It also serves as a one stop shop for people interested in visiting, relocating or starting a business in the area.



Posted in Company News
April 1, 2017

Lewis Realty To Buy Surf City Swing Bridge

In recent and surprising news, Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. President Chris Rackley announced on Friday in a close door meeting that the local Real Estate and Vacation company had reached an agreement to purchased the soon to be decommissioned Swing Surf City Swing BridgeBridge in Surf City.


The negotiations have been on going for several years since the announcement from the NCDOT of construction of the new high rise in Surf City while state and city officials pondered about what to do with the remnants of the swing bridge. 


In a public press release in process of being released Rackley had the following comments:


"When you think of Surf City, you think of two things, the swing bridge and Lewis Realty. It only makes sense for the bridge to be the next purchase of the fast growing real estate company. While at first we were going to make a museum of the bridge we have recently decided on some other plans . The bridge will be painted bright yellow (our company color) , have a giant Blue Heron placed on top and stay erected in it's place. The bridge will be utilized for Lewis Realty staff, guests and sales clients private access to the island. This will serve us well as we will be able to beat the 4th of July traffic with our own bridge and since it will be private there will be no speed traps by the Surf City Police department.  And of course, this will be a huge tax write off and as President Donald Trump says "it just makes us smart".  We may also consider allowing town officials access on several contingencies; they are able to secure beach re-nourishment while dropping the property tax rate not to mention building an exclusive Jeep beach park" , said Rackley in the recent press release.


Lewis Realty guests will be able to use the swing bridge being named the Lewis Realty Yellow Brick Bridge by 2018 and will be provided an exclusive fast pass decal for their car to gain access.  Lewis Realty will also grant fast pass access to Ginger Haired Women. Enforcement of access will be provided by real pirates stationed at each entranced and along side the bridge in their cannon laden pirate ship.


Rackley plans to have property manager Jessie Moore relocated to the Lewis Realty Bridge Works Department to serve as Bridge Tender allowing boats to pass as they come along the intracoastal water way if she sees fit to allow them to pass. 


Rackley also further added, "This is a win-win for everyone in Surf City. Other companies clients can view the bridge they have grown to love from a far distance and our clients will continue to receive the best service on the island with private access to the island".

While booking and sales are sure to increase with this recent news we encourage all to view our Topsail Area for sale properties or Book a Topsail Vacation rental before it is too late.


Originally published April 1, 2017 as our first ever Corporate April's Fools Joke. We enjoyed writing a little creative satire and equally enjoyed all the funny comments, laughing emojis and such. Life does not have to always be serious!! Laugh you just might enjoy yourself!!! :)

Jan. 12, 2016

3D Virtual Reality Home Models In Topsail Island

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc., a local Topsail Island leader in real estate technology, has recently introduced Virtual Reality for their vacation rentals and sales properties in December 2015. 

Lewis Realty handles a large inventory of vacation rental homes and properties for sale. Quite often a question arises such as, "where is the master suite?" or "where is the children's bedroom in connection with the rest of the property?" The answers are difficult for the consumers to visualize until they can personally view the property.

Chris Rackley, president of Lewis Realty, has always been at the forefront of the latest technology and being a veteran of the local real estate market, he began looking for a more modern solution to assisting the consumer with a "visual aid".

After researching the newest technology, Rackley decided to partner with Matterport from Mountain View, CA.

Matterport provides a state of the art motorized "robot" camera complete with multiple lens and infrared sensors that creates a virtual HD 3D model of a property. It allows the user to virtually walk through every square inch of a property and allows them to zoom out to view in "dollhouse" or floor plan modes.

The user is able to see how each room is situated within the rest of the property as well as being able to see even the finest of detail while taking the virtual walk through.

"This is not to be confused with the boiler plate virtual tour that many companies have been offering for years. This is true immersion into the home from anywhere in the world and it is not an inexpensive technology; however, we strive to be the first in utilizing the latest technology for our real estate company," said Rackley.

While the technology provides a solution for traditional computer and mobile device users to visit the homes virtually; the 3D models true power comes with a new and growing consumer technology in the form of devices such as Samsung's Gear VR Headset or the Occolous Rift Headset. This provides the user a true "out of science fiction" view placing the user inside the home.

Lewis Realty is working toward a complete roll out of this new technology on each of its vacation rentals and has also started creating models for some of its higher end sales properties.

Lewis Realty has been a leader in real estate technology in the Topsail area since the mid 90's .  

Most recently Lewis Realty was the first real estate company in the area to obtain a FAA Exemption to use "drones" for real estate after several years of pioneering research locally.




July 23, 2015

FAA Gives Lewis Realty Go Ahead To Fly Drones For Real Estate

In a past blog post , Lewis Realty Associates, Inc announced that it was petitioning the FAA under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization Act of 2012 to fly "drones" to market real estate listings and area tourist attractions in late January of 2015.Chris Rackley, President of Lewis Realty with Drone - Topsail Island, NC

After six months and a request for additional information, the FAA has given Lewis Realty Associates, Inc and President Chris Rackley an exemption to utilize the new technology in the Topsail Island real estate market. 

The exemption or permission does come with conditions. Among others the conditions include:

  • Rackley must obtain at least a Sport Pilot license (for traditional aircraft) before flying and employ a visual observer.
  • Understand that all Traditional Aircraft will always have the Right of Way.
  • Flight Restrictions on Distance From Airports.
  • Perform pre-flight checks.
  • Have property owner permission.
  • Keep a maintenance log on the UAV.
  • Will be subjected to Inspections by FAA and provide reports upon request.

The FAA was founded to provide air safety and benefits to the public. In the FAA's effort to fulfill their founding principles they only offer exemptions or permission to use "drones" with certain circumstances.

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc was the first real estate company in North Carolina to ask for the exemption but they were the third real estate agent/company to gain the exemption. Two others gained an exemption in other parts of the state in May and June of 2015. The FAA has been attempting to speed up the exemption process and are able to offer exemptions faster on mass produced drones. Lewis Realty Associates, Inc uses a custom built proprietary UAV (unmanned aircraft) of which the FAA rightfully requested additional information and specifications. 

Lewis Realty Custom Build Hexacopter DroneRackley is currently eager to fly commercially and said, "Once I received the email from the FAA with the exemption, I immediately began googling flight schools in the area to fulfill one of the requirements [pilot's license]. I am very excited as aviation and cutting edge technology has always been a passion of  mine and this is a perfect blend. This will also enhance our already innovative marketing to our clients and customers.".

Lewis Realty Associates, Inc. is one of the leading real estate companies in the Topsail Island market handling real estate sales, large inventory of vacation rentals and long term rentals. The company is also the second oldest on the island with over 50 years of history serving the public.





Feb. 16, 2015

FAA Proposes New Rules for Real Estate "Drones" - Topsail Island, NC

On Sunday February 15th, 2015 the FAA released it's current proposal for "drones" or UAVs in the National Airspace for commercial use.

Lewis Realty has previously filed an exemption to fly it's hexacopter to take photos and videos of homes and the general Topsail Island area. 

While the rules will take at least a year to become law, Chris Rackley, President of Lewis Realty applaudes the FAA in a common sense approach to a budding industry.

WWAY TV 3 came back to the island to interview Rackley on his views on the new proposals. The interview is below and the proposal summary along with an Executive Order from President Obama concerning Privacy and UAV is available for download.


More In Depth Talk About the FAA Proposed Policy and REALTORS By Chris Rackley, President of Lewis Realty Associates, Inc.


Posted in Company News
Feb. 16, 2015

Topsail Island Real Estate May Get Consent To Rate Insurance Letter

We have been reading and hearing that a few Topsail Island real estate owners have received Consent To Rate Letter from their insurance companies.


A consent to rate letter basically means that unless you agree to pay the new rates (higher) the insurance company may cancel your insurance and leave you unprotected. Thishomeowner insurance can cause an avalanche of issues with your bank loan and of course if there is a peril to the property.


So you got the Consent To Rate Letter? Here are some tips:

1. Review your current policy to see if the deductible is too low (driving cost up), the right amount of coverage or any other changes that may help drop the cost of your insurance.

2. Call your insurance company or brokerage. Many owners here in the Topsail area have saved considerable amounts of money by tweaking their coverages. Your insurance agent should know all the ins and outs to get you the best coverage at the lowest rate.

3. Shop your coverage - It's not fun but now may be the time to shop your coverage taking proposals from other insurance companies or brokers to see if there is a more economical solution in the insurance market for you.

In general you should be doing following these tips each year but especially if you have received a Consent to Rate letter. 

Not Insurance Advice - Contact Your Insurance Company or Agent.