Regular readers of this blog, as well as Ocracoke Islanders, will know that "buck" is a common local word meaning "pal" or "friend."
Many years ago an islander motored his small skiff out into the harbor to spend time with friends on a sailboat that was anchored in Silver Lake. After several hours of congenial conversation and a few drinks the islander stepped back into his skiff, cast off his line, pushed away from the sailboat, and pulled the cord on his outboard.
Unfortunately, he had neglected to set his controls to neutral. As soon as the engine fired the skiff took off, and the islander fell over backwards into the harbor. The unmanned skiff made a wide circle and headed back towards the islander who was treading water. The islander dove deep as the skiff roared past him, just overhead.
"I'm alright, buck!" he yelled as he came back up for air. He hardly had time to collect himself before he saw the skiff headed back to him. He dove under the water and the skiff went by again.
"I'm alright, buck!" he called out once more. 'Round and 'round went the skiff. The islander finally swam back to the safety of the sailboat.
I can't remember if the skiff ran out of gas, or if they were able to catch up to it with the sailboat's dingy. Regardless, it is an enduring image!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Rondthalers of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032112.htm.