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: http://www.ocracokewatermen.org/.)Lately 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: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072809.htm.