Monday, October 24, 2011

"Until the Butter Melts"

As I mentioned yesterday, OcraFolk School classes begin today. I always include a study of early North Carolina maps in our Ocracoke Sampler class. I am particularly interested in John White's maps of 1585 and 1590 because they clearly show Wokokon (Ocracoke) and Croatoan (the island that includes the northern part of present day Ocracoke and the southern portion of present day Hatteras). The ships on Raleigh's voyages of exploration and colonization stopped at Wokokon and Croatoan (where they were befriended by Manteo). Croatoan is where the "lost"colony indicated they had moved, according to a carving on a tree on Roanoke Island.

I have always found it difficult to interpret those early maps even though at least one of them lists lines of latitude. Of course, all of the inlets except Ocracoke have changed (either opened or closed) in the last 450 years. But I wondered how faithful the maps were regarding the shape and length of the islands of the Outer Banks. In preparation for the class this year I asked Captain Rob how accurate he thought those early 16th century maps were. Without a moment's hesitation he told me that sailors of that period navigated across the Atlantic by just heading south "until the butter melts," then sailing west into the sunset.

I guess that answers my question, I said.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article written by my Uncle Marvin Howard in 1954. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:07 AM

    "Until the butter melts"....what a wonderful way to put it, Capt. Rob! I've never heard it before now.

    Thanks, Philip, for sharing all of your invaluable and authentic Ocracoke info. Someday, this NC mainlander hopes to be in one of your OcraFolk classes. I know all of the classes are enjoyable and must be lots of fun.

    On another note, I just placed an order w/ VC. Enjoying the free shipping! Thanks for extending free shipping. Fellow bloggers, I encourage you to shop VC if you don't already do it. Now is a perfect time, especially if you can't hop over to the island yourself and visit VC. Believe me, it's a thrill to receive a package from zip code 27960!

  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    what butter are they talking about? And do you think it answers your question. I did a google search of the phrase until the butter melts and there are several entries.

  3. Anonymous12:09 PM

    I've always been interested in"the lost colony", and it's possible connection with Ocracoke fascinates me. I 'm a little envious of the students who will be learning from you personally. Maybe you'd be kind enough to share some of this with your "virtual classroom" in a future newsletter?

  4. Oh, I think the phrase answers my question. Sailing south "until the butter melts" tells me how accurate their maps and charts were.

  5. Look for my November Ocracoke Newsletter. It is about the connection between Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. It will be published on or about November 21.

  6. Anonymous6:17 PM

    Thank you from anon.12:09... Wow, that was easy-kind of like having my own personal genie. Does this mean I have 2 more wishes ? Mmm...