Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Some years ago Maurice Ballance mentioned cunners to me. I didn't know what a cunner was, so he explained it to me. Cunner, he said, is a very old term that was used on the island for a dug out canoe. When I listed the word on this journal several days ago that was still all I knew.

This morning I decided to do a little Google research. I thought maybe the term was more generally known in eastern North Carolina and Virginia. And I was right. I discovered a beautifully written article from the May, 1900 issue of Outing magazine, written by A.J. Kenealy, entitled The "Cunners" of Chesapeake Bay. Kenealy describes the cunner & its predecessor (the native American dug out canoe). He explains in detail how the double ended boat was built, how it was rigged, and how it was used. I'm sure the Ocracoke version was identical, or nearly so.

You can read the 1900 Outing article here. It is quite interesting.

Now I need to go back to visit Maurice and ask him more questions about the Ocracoke cunners!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of paved roads on Ocracoke. It may not sound very exciting, but there have been dramatic changes on the island because of the construction of paved roads a half century ago. You can read the newsletter, and see some rare photos here.

To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.

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