This morning about 10 o'clock Rob called and wanted to know if I'd like to join him and Al and Jason for an afternoon of oystering. Of course, I agreed on the spot. We left in Al's boat just after 1 o'clock. The tide was low but we hit bottom only a couple of times. Just off of Devil's Shoal in Pamlico Sound (not very far north of the NPS campground) we met up with three other boats anchored in the shallow water.
After probing the bottom here and there we quickly settled on our spot. The oysters were thick and we soon had a pile of muddy shells lying in the bottom of the boat. For our readers unfamiliar with oystering I offer a brief explanation. We use tongs. The wooden handles are about 10 feet long. On the business end there are metal forks and a "cage" to hold the oysters. The metal ends are about two feet wide with about 8 tines on each side. It can be back-breaking work, leaning over the gunwales, working the tongs into the oyster beds, and hauling them back up into the boat. Then the oysters must be culled. Small oysters less than legal size and empty shells are tossed overboard. Keepers are thrown into a 5 gallon bucket.
Legal limit is one bushel per person or two bushels per boat. In an hour's time we had our catch and were ready to motor back to the dock. (I took my camera for some photos, but, alas, my batteries were dead. Sorry folks.)
Once back home I was greeted by several folks who oohed and aahed over the bucketful of oysters and then told me how great it was because I could steam them for the pot luck tomorrow (at my house, I was informed, at 5 o'clock!). Well, at least I won't have to make deviled eggs this time.
Our current monthly Ocracoke Newsletter is Gary Mitchell's essay "I Believe in Pot-Lucks," published January 23, 2006. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012306.htm.