Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hurricane Earl Advisory #2

Hyde County Emergency Services Department
www.hydecountync.gov
1223 Main St., PO Box
Swan Quarter NC 27885
(252) 926-4372 - Office
(252) 926-3901 - Fax
David Smitherman, Interim County Manager

Public Advisory #2

Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 8:30 pm
Event: Hurricane Earl
Media Contact: Jamie Tunnell, jamietunnell@gmail.com, 252-925-0058

A state of emergency has been declared for Hyde County effective 9 PM today. A mandatory evacuation has been issued for all visitors and residents of Ocracoke beginning at 5 AM on Wednesday, September 1.

The NC Ferry system will be on a first-come, first –serve basis for all vehicles open to Hatteras, Swan Quarter, and Cedar Island pending road conditions in those receiving counties. Schedules and toll collections are suspended during the evacuation order.

Emergency services, government agencies, commercial vendors delivering essential groceries and supplies, and permanent residential traffic as indicated by purple and green stickers will be allowed on the island via air and marine traffic. The State Highway Patrol may restrict access without appropriate credentials.

Before leaving, residents and guests in this area should take precautions such as moving cars and equipment to higher ground. Please pick up potential debris that could become unsecure during the storm.

People with medical needs and unique situations are urged to consider their options. Hyde County public safety services will cease after winds reach 50 mph sustained.

Those seeking shelter may travel to North Pitt High School, 5659 N. Highway 11, Bethel, NC. This shelter will be open at 9 am on Wednesday, September 1.

This is the only information available at this time. Please tune in to local radio 90.1 FM on the island, the National Weather Service, and local television reports.

As seen in the past, hurricanes are unpredictable and can change with little notice. Residents and visitors need to remain vigilant and not let your guard down.

Hyde County Emergency Services continues to review the latest weather forecasts, is coordinating with the State and nearby counties, and advising citizens on possible actions to protect themselves and their property. Further updates will be issued after the 6 pm meeting.

Please make yourselves aware of the state ferry system’s schedule and road conditions before making travel plans during this time and after the storm has passed.

Storm Basis Preparation Initial Checklist:

* Check First Aid Kits/ Fire Extinguishers
* Obtain medicine and prescriptions
* Check and fuel vehicles and generators
* Obtain cash
* Make pet arrangements
* Pick up loose items around the yard
* Protect vulnerable portions of property
* Obtain non-perishable food and water for 3+ days (5+ recommended for Ocracoke)
* Obtain baby need or personal need items
* Check battery powered electronics and generators
* Assemble valuables and documents that cannot be replaced easily

Hurricane Watch

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the East Coast of the United States from north of Surf City North Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border...including the Pamlico and Albemarle
sounds. This, of course, includes Ocracoke.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area within the next 36 hours.

I'd say the general mood on Ocracoke is to be watchful and to make preparations (cutting limbs form overhanging trees, stocking up on supplies [beer seems to be a popular supply], taking boats out of the water, moving outdoor items that might blow around, etc.), but most folks are anticipating being able to ride out the storm OK.

I'll keep you posted.

NPS News Release -- Hurricane Earl

National Park Service News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DATE: August 31, 2010
CONTACT: Cyndy Holda, Public Information Officer, 252-473-2111, ext.
148


NPS Visitor Centers, Campgrounds and Beach Closures

The National Weather Service is predicting that the effects of Hurricane Earl will impact the Outer Banks Group units, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial, by Thursday, September 2, 2010 with storm conditions continuing through Friday, September 3, 2010.

In anticipation of this weather event, on Wednesday, September 1, 2010, the Ocracoke Visitor Center will close at 12:00 noon and the Hatteras Island, Bodie Island, Wright Brothers and Fort Raleigh Visitor Centers will close 5:00 p.m. The Ocracoke, Frisco, Cape Point and Oregon Inlet Campgrounds will close at 12:00 noon. The Ocracoke Campground reservation system has
been temporarily suspended.

The last climb for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse will be at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1 and the Lighthouse will close at 3:00 p.m.

By Thursday, expected ocean overwash and rough surf conditions will create unsafe conditions on Seashore beaches and off-road vehicle use will be prohibited until safe conditions allow for this recreational activity.

For more information, listen to NOAA weather radio and local radio and media for updates and advisories.

-NPS-

1 PM Notice From Hyde County Re. Hurricane Earl

Hyde County Emergency Services Department
www.hydecountync.gov
1223 Main St., PO Box
Swan Quarter NC 27885
(252) 926-4372 - Office
(252) 926-3901 - Fax
David Smitherman, Interim County Manager

Public Advisory #1
Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 1 pm
Event: Hurricane Earl

Media Contact: Jamie Tunnell, jamietunnell@gmail.com, 252-925-0058

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Earl, a well-developed current category 4 hurricane, is forecast to impact the Outer Banks as it makes a NE turn off the coast. This will affect Hyde County with significant wind, rain, and storm surges that may flood low-lying areas of Hyde County, both on the Mainland and Ocracoke.

Local, county, and state Emergency Management representatives are aware and are monitoring this storm closely. They have decided to implement preparedness measures. They will meet this evening to review the latest forecast. Presently, they anticipate a mandatory evacuation for Ocracoke Island on Wednesday, September 1 beginning at 5 AM for all residents and visitors.

Swell from Earl will begin to arrive late today with seas building to small craft advisory levels by Wednesday. The large swell will enhance the rip current threat starting today. Based on the current track, seas up to 20 feet are probable in the coastal waters. Even if the track remains offshore, breakers on the Outer Banks could be up to 15 ft. Overwash issues are likely on the Outer Banks ocean side Thursday night after midnight, peaking between midnight and 6 AM Friday. High tide will be around 230 AM.

Before leaving, residents and guests in this area should take precautions such as moving cars and equipment to higher ground. Please pick up potential debris that could become unsecure during the storm.

People with medical needs and unique situations are urged to consider their options. Hyde County public safety services will cease after winds reach 50 mph sustained.

Again, there is not an evacuation in place at this time, but all are encouraged to make plans for their safety and security.

As seen in the past, hurricanes are unpredictable and can change with little notice. Residents and visitors need to remain vigilant and not let your guard down.

Hyde County Emergency Services continues to review the latest weather forecasts, is coordinating with the State and nearby counties, and advising citizens on possible actions to protect themselves and their property. Further updates will be issued after the 6 pm meeting.

Please make yourselves aware of the state ferry system’s schedule and road conditions before making travel plans during this time and after the storm has passed.

Storm Basis Preparation Initial Checklist:

* Check First Aid Kits/ Fire Extinguishers
* Obtain medicine and prescriptions
* Check and fuel vehicles and generators
* Obtain cash
* Make pet arrangements
* Pick up loose items around the yard
* Protect vulnerable portions of property
* Obtain non-perishable food and water for 3+ days (5+ recommended for Ocracoke)
* Obtain baby need or personal need items
* Check battery powered electronics and generators
* Assemble valuables and documents that cannot be replaced easily

Earl

Ocracoke is quiet this morning...and islanders are calm, but making a few preparations for whatever comes. There is no panic here, just a wait-and-see attitude for now. A few folks have been taking boats out of the water (David & I got my boat out this morning), and moving larger boats to more secure locations. And people have been putting outdoor items away.

I haven't heard of any evacuations yet, but I'll let you all know as soon as I hear any official reports (or well-founded local news).

I think it's still too early to tell what track Earl will ultimately take, though it seems almost certain that the storm will at least brush the Outer Banks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Answer to Trivia Question

Congratulations to our anonymous reader who answered the trivia question at 10:02 am this morning!

On Saturday, August 28, I posed a question to our readers: Why did old houses not have closets?

The answer is: The wire coat hanger had not been invented! It was invented in 1903 by Albert J. Parkhouse. Prior to 1903 clothes were hung on nails or pegs, or folded and stored in trunks or shelves (some houses had "closets" but they were simply shelves enclosed by a door, not true closets as we have today).

I learned this quite by accident from Lou Ann. I had given her a book, The Geography of Home, and the answer lay within.

You can do an Internet search for "invention of the coat hanger" or "Albert J. Parkhouse" for more information.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecrafsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Summer's End?

Signs are pointing to the end of summer, and the beginning of fall. Days are becoming noticeably shorter, and quieter. Amy, David, Lachlan, and I took a walk Saturday night, and we all commented on how delightful it was. The temperature was in the mid 70s, and there was hardly any humidity. Daytime temperatures this week are predicted to be in the mid-80s. We know, of course, that we'll still have some hot, humid days through September, but the long stretches of wilting heat are behind us.

In addition, college students and other summer employees are talking about heading back to school, or back to their home countries. At the same time, streets are less crowded, and parking lots much emptier. Those of us who live on Ocracoke are starting to think about enjoying more time for ourselves, our families, and our community...and we should still have several weeks of superb weather to enjoy.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waterspout

Many thanks to Jaren who snapped the photo, below, of a recent waterspout out in Pamlico Sound. We don't often hear of damage caused by waterspouts...though you wouldn't want to be in a boat in one's path! And we did have a house destroyed by a waterspout that came ashore near "the pond" a number of years ago. Luckily no one was in the house.

They do make dramatic viewing though.



(Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trivia Question

The house I live in is a traditional "story and a jump" Ocracoke house. It was built around 1865. As many of our readers know, I rehabilitated the house about six years ago. I often give friends tours of the house (they don't take long...the house only has about 1100 square feet of space). I always point out my one and only closet.



(Click on photo to view larger image.)

It is in the downstairs bedroom, extremely small, and clearly an afterthought...with a door simply cut out of the beadboard wall. And I always ask my one trivia question, which I now pose to you:

Why did these old houses not have closets?

If you think you know, please click on the comment link below and post your answer (if I've already told you the answer please don't spoil it for others...and please don't post the answer if you had to look it up...just educated guesses please). I'll post the answer in a few days.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Friday, August 27, 2010

National Park Service Press Release

I recently received the following press release from the National Park Service re. rip currents. I want to make it perfectly clear that ocean swimming at Ocracoke is fun, relaxing, and a delight. We have one of the best beaches in the country. I swim in the ocean regularly, as do thousands of other people...locals and visitors alike.

Unfortunately, dangerous rip currents do sometimes form. With a little bit of common sense and accurate information you can enjoy our beach...and avoid the danger of rip currents. The Park Service notice below is one of the best and most accurate explanations I have ever come across. Please read it carefully...and enjoy a safe and wonderful day at the beach!

Be Aware of Dangerous Ocean Surf and Currents

Rough surf conditions routinely produce life-threatening rip currents capable of overtaking even the strongest swimmers and surfers. The National Park Service offers the following information and tips to help Outer Banks visitors avoid this potentially deadly ocean hazard.

Rip currents are channels of water that develop in an opening in a sand bar. Though relatively narrow near the beach, rip currents can increase to over 50 yards in width as they extend up to 1000 feet offshore. The velocity of the water can be as high as 5 mph.

Rip currents can be identified before entering the water. Look for an area of murky water due to sediment mixing as the channel opened in the sandbar. If the rip current has lasted a long time, the color of the water will appear darker than the surrounding water because of the channel carved by the flowing water. Rip currents will also move objects and/or foam steadily seaward and will cause a break in the incoming wave pattern.

The most common mistake of those caught in a rip current is to panic and attempt to swim directly back toward the shore. Even the best Olympic swimmers can not successfully swim towards the shore in the strongest rip currents. Rip currents can pull a swimmer away from the shore but not under the water.

Safety Tips

* Stay out of the water during dangerous surf conditions.

*Know how to swim. Non-swimmers should not rely on floats, such as boogie boards, while in deep water.

* Always swim near a lifeguard.

* Locate rip currents before entering the water.

* Tune in to NOAA weather radio and monitor websites (National Weather Service, Eastern Dare County, NC) and local media for updated surf conditions during your stay on the Outer Banks.

* Check with the lifeguards about rip currents and other hazardous conditions.

* Do not attempt to rescue someone caught in a rip current. Notify a lifeguard or, if there is no lifeguard, yell directions on how to escape, throw the victim something that floats, and call 911.

What to do if caught in a rip current:

* Remain calm. Remember, it will not pull you under.

* Swim parallel to the shore until you break free, then swim diagonally toward the shore.

* If you cannot swim out of the current, float until it weakens, then swim diagonally toward the shore.

* Summon help by waving your hands.

For more information on rip currents, ask a lifeguard or check the website at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shrimp Newburg

Since this month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the Wahab family, and features a story about Myra Wahab, I thought I'd share one of Myra's recipes (published in the Ocracoke Cook Book):

Remove shells and clean 1 lb. of cooked shrimp. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter; stir in until blended 1 1/4 tbsp of flour. Slowly stir in 1 c. of cream. When sauce is thick, stir in 3 tbsp. of tomato catsup and 3/4 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce. Add shrimp; stir until the shrimp are well heated. Season with salt, paprika and a few grains of cayenne pepper.

Immediately before serving, add 2 tbsp. of sherry wine. Serve over rice.

Remember, "Friends don't let friends buy imported shrimp," at least if you're anywhere near the coast and can get fresh, locally harvested shrimp.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day

Today was Lachlan's first day of school. I'm not sure how many children will be in his grade, but I did hear that there are more than 150 students in the school this year...the most there have ever been.


Since Ocracoke School has no cafeteria (I believe it's the only school in the state without one) he will walk home for lunch. Then I can hear how his morning went.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OcraFolk School

2010 marks the fourth year for our annual Ocrafolk School. Held the last week of October (from Sunday, October 24 - Friday, October 29), the school offers classes in photography, cooking, jewelry making, Ocracoke Island history, customs & nautical lore, and ships-in-bottles.

The OcraFolk School is a wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill or improve an existing one, or immerse yourself in island culture while enjoying superb food, outstanding music, and island living in a creative community atmosphere.

I understand there are still a very few openings in some of the classes (sorry, but the Ocracoke Sampler class I teach with Captain Rob Temple and park ranger David Frum is already full).

Take a look at the OcraFolk School web site to learn more about the school and what we have to offer: http://www.ocrafolkschool.org/

We hope to see you in October!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Topless Doughnut Store

Back in the 90s I signed up to participate in a two week Witness for Peace delegation to Nicaragua and Guatemala. I would be flying out of Miami. Al & Linda were interested in making a road trip to Florida...so we all traveled together in my van. Al & Linda visited the Everglades and other parts of Florida while I was in Central America.

When I returned I had many stories about US involvement in Nicaragua and Guatemala, as well as about the people and cultures there. And I also mentioned how much I missed being able to get a good doughnut.

Al had noticed a topless doughnut store not far from our hotel, and he offered to take me there (Linda didn't go...it wasn't the doughnuts that were topless). I ordered two glazed doughnuts, but could only eat one. My stomach was still adjusting to being back in the US. So I asked for a bag so I could take the other doughnut with me.

The girl at the counter said I was the only person she ever waited on who asked for a doughnut "to go!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stimulating Conversation

When Lou Ann injured her back in China several months ago, and ended up in the hospital in Beijing, island residents Ralph and Vera put me in touch with their son Greg who lives in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. He offered advice, help, and contacts, all of which were a great comfort.

Greg has been visiting his parents on Ocracoke for several days, and Ralph and Vera invited me and Linda and Al over for hamburgers last night.

Ralph and Vera had served in the Peace Corps in Panama when they were first married, and Al and Linda met in Cameroon while working with the Peace Corps. Greg has lived and worked in China for a number of years.

It was a delightful and very interesting evening as conversation moved from one fascinating subject to another. In the course of the evening we explored the geography, politics, and language of China, topless doughnut stores in Florida, Witness for Peace delegations to Central America, higher education, prostitution, sailing, drunken monks, molas, and hoarding...among other subjects. As I said, it was an interesting (and mirth-filled) evening!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brass Cannon

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." -- Kenneth Grahame

Yesterday afternoon Lachlan and I walked down to the Community Store...just to sit for a spell on the porch and chat with people. Ignatious was there (he's dyed his mohawk brunette), and various other people walked by. After a while Cyrus (Captain Rob's brother-in-law) came up on the porch. He was waiting for the Windfall to return to the dock with his seven year old son Elias and several other kids. He told me how much Elias enjoyed my Wednesday evening story of the rescue of six sailors from the wrecked three masted schooner Sarah D. J. Rawson in 1905.

Lachlan and I walked down on the dock when we spied the Windfall. I'll be sailing with Rob and his son Emmet in October in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. They wanted to show me their new brass cannon (an important complement on a racing schooner, especially for saluting other vessels during the parade of sails). In a few minutes we were pulling away from the dock, headed out into the sound.

We weren't gone long...just long enough to get far enough away from the village before firing the cannon. Emmet loaded the blank cartridge, we put our fingers in our ears, and he struck the firing pin. Ka-boom!

The cannon is not very big (you can hold it in the palms of your hands), but it carries a powerful punch. Lachlan was impressed!

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wir W√ľnschen Dir Eine Gute Reise, Molly!

We wish you a good trip, Molly!

Molly Lovejoy, one of our Ocracoke High School students, leaves today for Austria. She will be staying there for an entire year as an exchange student sponsored by Youth For Understanding.

Over the last twenty years we have had numerous exchanges between Ocracoke School and Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. Molly's sister Emma recently spent a year in Denmark; my daughter Amy went to Germany as one of the island's first exchange students.

Molly, we wish you well on your new and exciting adventure in Europe. We'll miss you, but know you will have one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Be sure to keep us posted now and then about life in Austria.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter, Looking for the Wahabs of Ocracoke, was written by Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wahabs of Ocracoke

Earlier this month my good friends Jim & Eileen Zogby were visiting the island. Jim, who is of Lebanese descent, and president of the Arab American Institute, stopped by one afternoon and we sat on the pizer chatting for more than an hour. He shared with me a recent article he wrote about searching for the Wahabs of Ocracoke. Jim graciously agreed to let me publish his article (along with a few photographs) as our latest Ocracoke Newsletter.

"Looking for the Wahabs" is a delightful piece of journalism relating his visit with islander Myra Wahab some years ago, and her stories about the Wahab ancestors, shipwrecked Arab sailors who landed on Ocracoke's shores more than two hundred years ago.

You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082110.htm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Henry

On Monday night, as we were setting up Deepwater Theater for Amy's, David's, & my weekly show "You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet, Strange Stories & Quirky Tales of Ocracoke Island" a 22 year old college student wandered by to see what was going on. Henry had left Oregon a month earlier with a pack on his back, exploring cities and small towns along the way.

Henry was immediately likable with his broad smile, easy manner, and bright eyes. We soon learned that he was an aspiring writer. He had been drawn to our notice about island stories. Immediately he pitched in, helping us set up chairs and arrange the stage. We became fast friends. He stayed for the show, and we invited him to spend the night in the tree house behind the Village Craftsmen.

We've since learned what an interesting fellow Henry is. He has been, literally, around the world, and we heard stories of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and India. In just a few days (this is Henry's very first visit to Ocracoke) he's already discovered more about the island than many people do in years.

Today he wants to walk down to Springer's Point. Lachlan hasn't met Henry yet, but he wants to! Maybe we'll all go out to Teach's Hole in the boat, and Henry can wade ashore to explore the Point while we enjoy some time swimming.

Ocracoke is a beautiful area, and we have a wonderful community. An added advantage is the interesting people we meet who pass through.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aquamarine

Lately the ocean has literally been "aquamarine," a magnificent pale blue-green color. Oftentimes on the Outer Banks the powerful waves churn up fine particles of sand as they crash against the shoreline. This gives the water a deeper, less vibrant color. But now and then conditions are just right and the ocean becomes transparent, even as waves roll up on the beach. Yesterday was like that. Standing in chest deep water I could see my feet on the bottom...until a wave gently picked me up and then set me back down.

It was Zen-like.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ocracoke's Fishing Tradition

I know I wrote about this almost exactly one year ago, but I was recently reminded that, although there have always been fishermen on Ocracoke, for many years this was not primarily a fishing village. I think many writers and journalists simply assume that Ocracoke must have always been a traditional fishing village. After all, this is an island surrounded by some of the best fishing waters on the east coast. They fail to understand how difficult, time-consuming, and expensive it would have been to carry fish to mainland markets before 1938, the year the ice plant was built. Prior to that year there was no electricity on Ocracoke, hence no way to make ice for preserving fish. In addition, gasoline powered skiffs were just beginning to replace sail skiffs, slow, sometimes dangerous, and often unreliable transportation to the mainland. Ocracoke didn't have ferry service until the 1950s, and the paved road to Hatteras wasn't constructed until 1957.

A quick perusal of census records confirms the above. Ocracoke's 1850 census lists 28 pilots (men with knowledge of the local waters who guided sailing ships through the inlet and across the sound to mainland ports), 10 seafarers, three dozen laborers, merchants, mechanics, etc., and only 5 fishermen. The 1860 census lists 13 pilots (the more navigable Hatteras inlet had opened in 1846 and many pilots moved there), 18 mariners, and only one fisherman!

Of course fresh fish, clams, crabs, and other seafood have been the primary food on island tables since the 1700s. By the second half of the twentieth century commercial fishing had become a major source of income for many local residents. In spite of a number of setbacks, today Ocracoke's fishing related commerce continues to grow and thrive, thanks in large measure to the Working Watermen's Association. You can read more here.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pancakes and Family

David called this morning and invited me over for breakfast. Pat & Steve (David's parents) were coming, and even though he didn't know what we would be having, he thought we would like starting the day together. As it turned out, we had pancakes and eggs...they were delicious...and another enjoyable time as an extended family.

Today is just beautiful -- temperatures in the low eighties, and bright skies -- I think I'll go to the beach!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Morning

I didn't get to venture out in the boat Thursday, as I had hoped. I can't remember the reason. But I did go out this morning (just got back, in fact). David's mother and father (Pat & Steve) are visiting for a week or so, and they'd never been out in my boat. So we all slathered on our sun screen, packed water bottles and peanut butter crackers, and walked down Howard Street to the Community Store dock. In addition to Pat & Steve, Amy, Lachlan, and David came along.

We didn't do much...just motored out toward the South Point, then turned around and anchored a little way off shore. We all jumped overboard and frolicked in the Sound for over an hour. The water was warm, but refreshing; the bottom, sandy and delightful. We jumped and played, tossed a small football, laughed and swam, and floated around on a foam board. It was one of those mornings that reminds one how wonderful it is to be alive...and to live surrounded by family, friends, beauty and natural treasures.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shooting Stars

Rain fell in torrents around supper time last night. So we thought the sky would be totally obscured throughout the evening, but we were wrong. By 10 o'clock the storm clouds had moved on, leaving a vast array of sparkling stars overhead. The Milky Way stretched across the heavens from one end to the other.

Bill & Lida invited me to their yard to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower, an annual celestial event that peaks around August 12. As earth passes through debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet tiny particles (most about the size of a grain of sand, and traveling 50 times as fast as an automobile on the Interstate) bombard the atmosphere and streak through the sky as they burn and disintegrate.

In an hour's time we saw several dozen "shooting stars," a few spectacular enough to elicit simultaneous expressions of wonder and awe.

Ocracoke Island must be one of the best places to view meteor showers (we don't have much light polution, after all), but shooting stars should be visible throughout the country for several more days. It is well worth your time to find a place away from city lights (maybe in your own back yard), and sit quietly for an hour tonight and just gaze up into the night sky. With or without shooting stars it is spectacular.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Beach

Yesterday was a superb day to spend a bit of time at the beach! The water temperature was in the mid-70s, so there was no shock when I dove in. The bottom quickly sloped until the water was about chest deep. There the waves were gentle and rolling, making swimming almost effortless. A bit farther out there was a sandbar, and on the other side, larger and more exciting waves.

In spite of a slight littoral current, everyone there seemed to be enjoying the water...the perfect way to escape the midday heat.

It rained torrents last night, with dramatic lightning and booming thunder. I am planning to take the family out in the boat later today. I hope it's not too windy. Wave if you see us out in the Sound!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

October Excursion

One of my neighbors just sent me the following information about a fall adventure trip to Ocracoke Island for women sponsored by Just Get Outdoors.

"[W]hy not join me for my EXPLORING OCRACOKE ISLAND AND THE OUTER BANKS trip this October 3 - 10. October is said to be the best time of the year to visit Ocracoke. This trip has a lot to offer as we explore both land and sea. We'll ramble through maritime forests and old dune habitats and kayak in the open shoreline waters, sloughs and marshes of the Pamlico Sound. Along with birding and (world-class) shelling, this varied excursion offers time spent at the historical Portsmouth Island and Ocracoke Lighthouse. We will have time to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Pamlico Sound on our sailing tour aboard a traditional gaff-rigged schooner. Also included is some downtime to enjoy the village of Ocracoke - a must - and to relax on the porch and stroll the lovely grounds of the Soundfront Inn, our historic accommodations for this trip."

You can find a full itinerary and more information at http://www.justgetoutdoors.com/details_ocracoke10.html.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ocracoke's First Lighthouse

Although Ocracoke boasts the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina the present day lighthouse is the second beacon erected to protect shipping in the area. In 1798 a 55' tall wooden pyramid-shaped tower, covered with shingles, was built on "Shell Castle Rock," a 25 acre island of oyster shells just inside Ocracoke Inlet (at the time this was considered the "harbor of Ocracock" since "Cockle Creek" [later renamed "Silver Lake" after it was dredged] was merely a wide, shallow tidal creek).

On Shell Castle Rock John Blount & his partner John Wallace operated a shipping business that included wharves, warehouses, a store & tavern, and a wind-powered grist mill. Legislation establishing the lighthouse prohibited goods to be stored, a tavern to be kept, or merchandise to be sold anywhere on the land set aside for the lighthouse. In addition, no one was to reside there, and the lighthouse was not to be used to "make a stand from which [anyone] may either pilot or lighter vessels." In other words, the lighthouse was an aid erected for the public good and shipping in general. No individuals were to personally benefit from the lighthouse at the expense of others.

The channel soon shifted, making the lighthouse ineffective. It was struck by lightning on August 16, 1818 and completely destroyed. Our current lighthouse was built on Ocracoke Island five years later.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rip Currents

Yesterday evening I heard the sad news that a visitor on Ocracoke Island drowned late Saturday afternoon after being caught in a dangerous rip current. Such sobering news always affects Ocracoke residents. We have one of the most beautiful beaches in the country...and ocean swimming is almost always fun and relaxing. However, under certain conditions strong and dangerous currents can form, especially in association with off-shore storms. When visiting the island please stay informed about rip currents and ask our local life guards and park rangers about current conditions.

The full story is available at the island free press web site, along with valuable information about recognizing rip currents, and how to react if caught in one. Click here to read more.

Our hearts go out to the family of the gentleman who died Saturday.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Colin & Rip Currents

I just received the following message from the Hyde Co Emergency Management Office re. ocean swimming at Ocracoke:

...RIP CURRENT RISK NOW IN EFFECT THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING...
THE COMBINATION OF HIGH ASTRONOMICAL TIDES AND LONG PERIOD SWELLS FROM TROPICAL STORM COLIN WELL EAST OF THE REGION WILL PRODUCE A HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS THROUGH SUNDAY EVENING.

THE MOST LIKELY TIME FOR LIFE THREATENING RIP CURRENTS WILL BE A COUPLE OF HOURS EITHER SIDE OF LOW TIDE.

LOW TIDE SUNDAY WILL OCCUR AROUND NOON.

Ocracoke's beaches are among the best in the entire United States. The water has been delightfully warm recently, and the waves have been fun to ride. Enjoy the beach...just remember -- it is not a swimming pool. If you are ever caught in a rip tide, don't panic...just swim parallel with the beach (rip currents, though often powerful, are never very wide), then swim back to shore.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

National Lighthouse Day

I must admit...I didn't know there was a National Lighthouse Day until I read the comment on yesterday's post. I'm guessing that most Ocracoke islanders don't know this either.

According to the American Lighthouse Foundation, "It was on this day in 1789, that Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse, Congress passed a resolution which designated August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day."

There is also a United States Lighthouse Society. I just yesterday discovered these web sites, so I don't know much about the two organizations, but thought some of our readers might enjoy perusing the sites.

Ocracoke's lighthouse was built in 1823 by Noah Porter of Massachusetts for $11,359.35 (this included the keeper's quarters). It is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina; the second oldest in the United States (bowing only to the beacon at Sandy Hook, NJ). Standing about 77 feet tall (depending on where you measure) the tower tapers from a diameter of 25 feet at the base to 12 feet at the top. The solid brick walls are five feet thick at the bottom and two feet thick at the top. The electric light bulb in the lantern is surrounded by a fourth order Fresnel lens (a whale oil lamp originally provided the flame).

Ocracoke's plain white lighthouse with a steady beam is arguably the island's most prominent landmark, and is beloved by all.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Friday, August 06, 2010

What's Your Story?

Late last night I watched episode one of the TV show "What's Your Story?" a documentary featuring Ocracoke's master storyteller, Donald Davis, as he leads 14 people on an entertaining journey of discovering their own stories during one of Donald's week-long Ocracoke Island workshops.

The documentary is a joint venture of Timpanogos Storytelling National Outreach, Kaleidoscope Pictures, BYU Broadcasting, and the Ashton Family Foundation. The program will be re-broadcast through August 12, at which time the second episode will premiere. "What's Your Story?" is available in Utah (home of the sponsoring organizations) and worldwide via satellite TV. You can find more information here (all times are Mountain Daylight Time [two hours earlier than Eastern Daylight Time]): http://www.byutv.org/Show/1996.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ocracoke Ponies

No one knows for sure how Ocracoke's wild ponies first settled on the island, but the present day herd is almost certainly descended from shipwrecked Spanish mustangs and other horses that came to these shores with the earliest English settlers. Over the years new blood was occasionally introduced. For a colorful story of two circus horses that found their way to Ocracoke click here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072507.htm.

Of course, the Ocracoke ponies played an important part in island history in the mid-twentieth century when my Uncle Marvin Howard organized the celebrated mounted Boy Scout troop.

Today a remnant herd is maintained on National Park Service land midway up the island. Several years ago a new colt was born, and the rangers named him Lawton Howard after my father who always enjoyed visiting the ponies at their pasture and pen. A few days ago Joyce Reynolds sent me the following photos she took of this handsome young steed (click on any photo to view a larger image).

Whether you live on the island, or just visit us, be sure to ride down to the pony pen and absorb a little bit of island history whenever you have the opportunity.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fig Preserves

Ocracoke Island is known for its fig trees...and delicious fig preserves. Several varieties of figs grow on the island, and they begin to ripen in August. According to island old timers this year's crop of figs is one of the most abundant in living memory.

Village Craftsmen has sold locally preserved figs for several years. They are tasty on bread (homemade is the best, of course), marvelous as a topping on ice cream, and perfect for Ocracoke Island's famous fig cake (click here -- http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news040301.htm -- for the recipe).

Many of our readers ask about purchasing fig preserves, but all too often they are out of season when visitors are here on the island. If you would like some authentic Ocracoke Island preserved figs you are now in luck. Because of this year's bumper crop we now have a substantial supply of preserves, ready for shipment anywhere in the US. Just click on this link for more information:
http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/figpreserves.htm.

Remember, this is a seasonal item. When they're gone, they're gone...until next year at least. So order now, and enjoy Ocracoke Island figs in your own kitchen!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bachelors

Lou Ann and I enjoyed an early dinner Sunday night at the Jolly Roger restaurant with friends from off island. As we walked down Howard Street on the way home we heard a raucous din coming from School Road. We immediately remembered that our new radio station was hosting a Bachelor's Auction in the yard of Natural Selections Hemp Shop. We knew we had to investigate!

What a scene we encountered. One of the young men was just stepping onto the porch as we arrived. He strutted a bit, and the bidding began. Hands shot up everywhere, and the bidding quickly escalated from twenty-five dollars to over two hundred dollars. The young women were in a frenzy! More bachelors followed. Prices from one hundred and fifty dollars to close to three hundred dollars were routine. One young man (after tossing his shirt into the crowd) garnered more than four hundred dollars!

Everyone seemed to be in a happy, festive mood. And all for a worthy cause. I haven't heard any figures but I'm certain the event raised several thousands of dollars for WOVV (90.1 on your Ocracoke radio dial).

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Happy Birthday Philip!!



Rob Temple brought this hat over to Philip for one of his gifts, and the truth is, Philip just won't take off the hat. Now we must call him Captain Philip! Thanks for the great gift Rob! (In case you can't read the hat, it says Captain Philip!)

Happy Birthday!

Bittersweet Day

This is a special day for Lachlan and me. It is our birthday! Since Lachlan was born (six years ago) it has been easy for me to remember how old I am...I just need to add sixty to his age. We don't have anything big planned for the day, just a family lunch (my brother Bud and his wife Jamie are coming down for the day). We already had a cookout last week to celebrate Lou Ann's and our birthdays.

Unfortunately, today is Lou Ann's last day on the island this summer. Her school starts in a week and she is leaving with Bud and Jamie this afternoon (her flight is early tomorrow morning). We have had such a wonderful (though short!) summer together -- walks on the beach, rides in the boat, time with family, cruises on Windfall II, pot lucks, performances, romantic dinners, visits with neighbors,...and so much more. Sometimes we just sit on the pizer and marvel at what a magical place Ocracoke Island is -- the beach, the sunsets, the starry sky...and the fascinating community of talented, caring, diverse, and quirky people.

We will all miss Lou Ann...no one more than I. She adds so much to our island community. The good part is that we know she'll be back!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Girls

My son Stefen and his wife Snee have three children. I wrote a little about their son Eakin yesterday. Eakin has an older sister, Zoe, and a younger sister, Eliza. They all had a wonderful two weeks on the island, and I'm sad they had to leave.

They enjoyed a ghost and history walk their first week on Ocracoke. On Friday night Zoe and her friend Pia had a great time lying in wait along spooky Howard Street for Lou Ann's ghost walk. They were dressed up in long, flowing white dresses, and they made just a brief appearance from behind the bushes. You could hear the screams from both ends of Howard Street!

Zoe & Pia also joined Lou Ann last week for belly dancing lessons. They especially enjoyed their jingly-jangly wraps festooned with silver "coins."

Nine year old Eliza is a budding artist who shared many of her drawings with us. She spent a lot of time with Lachlan in the tree house, swinging on the rope in his yard, and swimming in the ocean & at Springer's Point. She even jumped overboard from the boat and climbed on the "knee board" so her daddy could give her a thrilling ride behind the boat.

We had such a fine time...and created wonderful, lasting memories. It was just too short!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.