Monday, August 10, 2009

Fishing Village

Ocracoke is often described as a small fishing village. One tongue-in-cheek local t-shirt calls Ocracoke "a small drinking village with a fishing problem." In fact, Ocracoke has traditionally been a seafaring village. The earliest settlers were pilots who guided larger vessels through Ocracoke Inlet and across Pamlico Sound, to ports in eastern North Carolina. Later, in the nineteenth century, the majority of men made their living as deckhands, captains, and owners of schooners that transported lumber, rum, molasses, and other goods along the eastern seaboard. Fishing was a marginal business. Without ice or motorized boats, fishermen mostly sold their catch locally, or smoked their fish and took them across the sound when conditions allowed.

When electricity was introduced to the island in 1938 an ice plant was included. By then many of the island sail skiffs had been converted to gas powered boats. Fishing then became a viable local industry. Today, with the rehabilitation of the island's last fish house and a vibrant Working Watermen's Association, Ocracoke once again is home to a growing number of commercial fishermen. (The OWWA web site is under development, but it does have a great photo you might enjoy: I've even noticed several larger eastern North Carolina trawlers docked at the fish house.

Be sure to stop by the fish house and purchase some fresh seafood!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story about volunteering for turtle patrol with the National Park Service. You can read her story and see her pictures here:


  1. Jan and I spent last weekend on Ocracoke Island and love your shop!

    Glad I found your blog, it is wonderful.

  2. Anonymous3:46 PM

    that web site needs some savvy high school student to help them get it up and running because a lot of money has been spent and the transparency should be out in the open regarding the manner in which the funds were dispersed.

  3. The Fish House is fantastic! We visited Ocracoke in May and purchased from them several times during the week for some seafood feasts! The young lady behind the counter (I am so bad with names!) was so helpful and offered great advice on preparation.

    Phil - this is my first post to your blog, but I've enjoyed your writings since a co-worker suggested Ocracoke several years as the perfect family get-a-way. By the time we visited the island for the first time in May 07, I felt like I already knew the place! Thank you for all you do to preserve Ocracoke history as well as keep us part time Ocracokers informed of our home away from home!

  4. Anonymous11:23 AM

    The Fish house renovations were funded by a grant from Golden Leaf Foundation. All funds were dispersed in accordance with the grant provisions. There is a large sign on the fish house acknowledging Golden Leaf. Any concerns as to the "transparency" of the utilization of funds should be addressed to Golden Leaf.

  5. Anonymous6:52 AM

    What component of the mission of education regarding the Fish House could reach hundreds if not thousands but for the fact the web site has been under construction for more than a year. Is it a lack of material for the web site ? why initiate a web page if you did not already have the people to carry it out?. It seems to me the mission of education is suffering or is a ruse. Pictures documenting the restoration and installation of the interior are in oder at least.

  6. Anonymous12:13 PM

    The person disparaging everything on the Island all the time is getting tiresome. He (or she) seems not to understand concepts like community, honesty and the fact that life is slower paced there. Maybe a short stay on Ocracoke would cure said commentor of his ( or her ) attitude problem. Knowing Ocracoke I'm sure the commentor would be given a warm welcome and an education.

  7. Anonymous7:18 AM

    Above comment very well said!

  8. We stayed at "Creekside" for the second year in a row. We have been coming down for 20 years now from Va Beach I bought one of the Ocracoke Working Watermens T-Shits only to have one of my sons take it to college. It's a nice looking shirt. Is there anyway to get one via internet? It's a long boat ride back just for a t-shirt!

  9. For a t-shirt, try calling the fish house at 252-928-5601. If that's not the right phone number, please post another comment and I'll check again.

  10. Your cousins are coming... Daughters three of William via Georges Norman and Gregory of Little Washington. We are "Peggy"-Margaret H.Hodgkins,Joanne Miller of Tulsa and C.Jean Bleyle of GA. Staying at Ankorage Inn. 10-11 thru 10-13. Hope you will be around. Peggy of Maine...Loved your story of the Mary E. These ships are in our blood!!!