Monday, April 04, 2011

Question 2

This is the second question from one of our recent comments: "How did you arrive when visiting?"

I mentioned the mailboat Aleta when responding to Question #1. Eventually the Aleta's owners, George O'Neal and Elmo Fulcher, lost the contract for carrying mail to Ocracoke, and Ansley O'Neal contiued the service with his boat, the Dolphin, for several years.

By 1950, however, Frazier Peele began car ferry service across Hatteras Inlet. His first ferry was nothing more than a skiff with planks nailed across the top for a deck. Later he built a four car boat with railings and a ramp.

We brought our 1948 Plymouth across on Frazier's ferries until the state of North Carolina took over the operation in 1957, the year the paved road was built the length of the island.

Prior to that time, Frazier would simply let you off on the beach, and you'd have to drive the 14 miles along the surf, hoping not to get stuck in the sand. If you did get stuck you could only hope the Coast Guard would find you before the tide did!

Did I mention that travel to Ocracoke was quite an adventure before the 1960s?

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a list of traditional island remedies. You can read it here:


  1. We have film of our family coming over on the 4 car ferry in 1956. At the end of the film are pictures of us driving down the beach and being picked up on the shore. I didn't realize what an adventure we had until I was an adult!

  2. Gary, I know the Ocracoke Preservation Society would love to have a copy of your film. Just a thought. No pressure!

  3. Anonymous8:36 PM

    I suspect it somewhat took a leap of faith to drive a car onto a skiff with planks nailed to it. But apparently the vessel was far sturdier than it sounds. To the point of cars racing tides, I suspect more than a few may have lost that race over the years. To your knowledge, have any cars been claimed by the surf, sand, and tide on Ocracoke?

  4. Anonymous8:50 PM

    I saw one vehicle claimed by the incoming tide because the "fishermen," I use that term generously...were paying more atention to the level of beer in their cooler than the level of the tide. By the time they realized their predicament, the rear wheels were sinking in the wet,soft sand with every incoming wave. When I got back to the village I sent help but never knew the outcome of the "rescue."

  5. There has been more than one vehicle lost to the incoming tide on Ocracoke. I've seen a Chevy Suburban rolled first one way, than the other, as the tide changed. After several days it was a twisted mass of bent and ripped steel.

    Eventually vehicles caught by the tide sink deeper into the quicksand and are covered completely.

  6. Anonymous5:25 PM

    What an image in my mind you painted, Philip, of that Chevy Suburban rolling over back and forth as the tide changed. Hope it was an older model with lots of miles!