A couple of days ago Capt. Rob of the Schooner Windfall loaned me a book from his extensive nautical collection...the 1878 classic by Nathaniel H. Bishop, "Voyage of the Paper Canoe." Bishop traveled 2500 miles, from Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, in 1874-1875 in a 58 pound canoe (actually more of a kayak) made from the "newly available, lightweight, and versatile 'high tech' medium" (paper!), which was treated with shellac.
Although I have not yet reached the pages where he relates rowing along the western shore of the Outer Banks, my attention was arrested by his description of the folks whom he encountered along the Delaware Bay. What he described then could just as easily apply to many who find respite today at Ocracoke:
"This locality offers a place of retirement for men of small means and limited ambition. The broad bay is a good sailing and fishing ground, while the great marshes are the resort of many birds. The light, warm soil responds generously to little cultivation. After a day of hunting and fishing, the new-comer can smoke his pipe in peace, to the music of crackling flames in the wide old fireplace. Here he may be comfortable, and spend his last days quietly vegetating, with no criticisms on his deterioration, knowing that he is running to seed no faster than his neighbors."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter discusses place names on Ocracoke. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news113009.htm.