Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Capt. George O'Neal

In March of last year I published an Ocracoke Newsletter about the mailboat Aleta, "Boat Hauled Mail, More," that was a reprint of a 1948 article originally published in the Raleigh News & Observer.

The author of the article, Charles S. Killebrew, had the following to say about Capt. George O'Neal (I have added two recently discovered photos, courtesy of Capt. George's grandson Chester Lynn, to illustrate Killebrew's observations):

"As soon as the mail is aboard, Captain O'Neal 'gets her under way' and that is all you see of him until the boat docks at Ocracoke in Silver Lake, the natural boat basin on the island."

Capt. George O'Neal at the Helm of the Aleta

 "The engine room is on the same deck with the passengers' cabin, but captain O'Neal closes the door to the engine room and all that is heard from the room is the incessant roar of the powerful diesel engine which pushes the boat."

Capt. George and the Aleta's Diesel Engine

According to a paper dated October 27, 1948 from the Caterpillar Tractor Co. pasted to the back of the photo,  "A 'Caterpillar' Diesel D4400 Marine Engine powers the 'Aleta', mailboat running to Ocracoke."

To get a sense of Capt. George's job, enlarge the photos, take a careful look...and imagine spending 8 hours a day (4 hours each way from Ocracoke to Atlantic, NC and back), as Capt. George did, in that Spartan cabin, peering out those small windows, with the constant roar of the Diesel engine just a few feet away!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here:


  1. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Why do reporters have to end a story with an editorial comment. The twinkle in the eye, no one loves the sea more than he--- now if the reporter had an OI resident say "I asked Capt. O'Neal about the monotonous trip and he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as if ..... now that is a great Quote other than that It was a delight to read. the work ethic of contract truck drivers/ship captains that deliver the mail to a USPS Hub Mail facility is the unsung hero in the fabric of the flag of the postal service. Yes, you drop your letter in the mailbox in your home town on the mainland and a letter carrier collects it and brings it to a facility to be sorted then it is put on a truck to go to a processing plant to be combined and processed with more mail to be cancelled and sorted into letter trays place then sent along its way. To think a zip code did not exist at one time. Anyway, what would marketing people and demographers do with out the help of zip codes, oh wait they just follow you on face book -- like that pair of shoes you thought you liked it follows you on the internet.

  2. Vickie P8:19 AM

    How much hearing loss did he suffer?

  3. Anonymous10:34 AM

    The sauce pan on the table-- do you suppose the Capt. cooked meals with the boat engine heat? I would not be surprised.