Sunday, March 06, 2011

An Ocracoke Story

Below is a story that was told by an old Ocracoke sea captain, Horatio Williams (1827-1908). Enjoy!:

Seems back in the old days there was a preacher who’d never done any sailing but he’d been around a lot of sailors and he couldn’t understand why they were always cussing, particularly the captains.

Well, it seems this preacher was given a trip on a schooner one day. As the preacher came aboard, the captain was using some pretty strong language to his men.

“You shouldn’t talk like that to your men," the preacher told the captain. "Cussin’ doesn’t do any good."

The captain nodded. The preacher went below. The captain called his men to him. He told them, "I’ve got a little plan for when the preacher comes back. When I say to you, 'My good men, take in the topsail.’You sit still. Don’t pay any attention."

Well, when the preacher appeared, the captain said in a calm voice, “My good men, take in the topsail.” The crew paid no attention. Three times he repeated the order in the same words. And three times he was ignored. Finally, he screamed. “Blast you @#%^&, take in the topsail!” The crew jumped to his order.

The preacher looked at the captain, shook his head and said, "Damn if I don’t believe a little cussin’ does help sometimes.”

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of a 1911 wedding on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    But it is so much funnier when children cuss. But then where do they hear it. Oh any sea captains tell of ambergris washing up on shore?

  2. I imagine that ambergis has occasionally washed up on Ocracoke's beach, but I am not personally aware of any. I'll let you know if I hear of any.

  3. Anonymous8:11 AM

    HA! HA!! Great story!

    Reminds me one Sunday morning when I was teaching the "Seniors" in my rural Person county, NC church. One precious man, who sadly passed away last year, always had a story just ready to burst out of his mouth. I learned early on not to begin any Sunday School lesson until I let Jessie, 76, speak "his peace". He never failed to entertain the class with something he heard during the week and naturally, Jessie had to add a little extra to the original story. Anyway, one Sunday morning, Jessie started telling a lively story and I noticed he was getting more animated by the second. Suddenly, a "damn" came tumbling out of his mouth! The ladies in the classroom (well, all except one who has been known to say a "colorful word or two herself") gasped. It was complete silence. Jessie looked helplessly towards my direction. Then, I just started laughing. My reaction broke the ice and Jessie went on with the rest of the story. I'll never forget it. It's a funny memory!