The Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department cookbook, Hoi Toiders' Recipes and Remembrances, contains quite a few historical gems. On page 60, under the recipe for Frozen Fruit Salad, we find this paragraph:
"When a banana boat went aground near Hatteras Inlet, the high tide line was nothing but bananas. Every kid on Ocracoke had a belly ache according to Elsie Ballance who was the town nurse."
The year was 1927, the date December 4, and the vessel was the Norwegian steamer Cibao. My dad was sixteen years old. He often told me about all the bananas they had -- bunches and bunches hanging from pegs...too many to eat before they went bad.
The wreck...and the rescue...were quite dramatic. Newspapers from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Miami, and elsewhere, ran the story. The storm was so intense, and the water was so turbulent, that the US Coast Guard was unable to maneuver their power lifeboat close enough to the wreck. Even with their self-bailing surfboat, they were thwarted in rowing close enough to the stranded vessel. Finally the life savers succeeded in instructing each of the sailors to tie a line around his waist and jump into the raging breakers, one at a time. Each sailor, cold, wet, and exhausted, was pulled aboard the surfboat. It took three trips from the station to the wreck and back to the station to bring all twenty-four members of the crew safely to shore.
After the storm abated on December 6 the cargo, 17,000 bunches of bananas from Jamaica, were jettisoned, and the ship was eventually refloated and towed to New York City.
The officers of the US Coast Guard were promoted because of their bravery and courage.
Click here to read the report from the Miami Daily News, December 5, 1927.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article written by my Uncle Marvin in 1954. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102111.htm.