Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ferry & Airport Information

Limited runs set for Hatteras ferry,
Airport open for air traffic
October 31, 2012, 4:46 pm

Routes on the Hatteras -Ocracoke ferry have resumed, observing limited runs. Only Ocracoke residents are allowed to ride the ferry to Hatteras. Riders must produce identification with an Ocracoke address.
**The Dare County reentry program is being reinforced by law enforcement at the Hatteras terminal. Click here for more information from Dare County.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule will be:
* Departing Hatteras at 6 a.m., 8, 10, noon, 2 p.m., 4, 6, 8, 10 and midnight; and
* Departing Ocracoke at 5 a.m., 7, 9, 11, 1 p.m., 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.

Sound runs on the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island - Ocracoke ferries are operating as normal, with no restrictions.
Proceed with caution
NC DOT has opened one lane of traffic for NC 12 on the north end of Ocracoke. Drivers are asked to proceed with caution due to DOT equipment and personnel on the road.
Airspace is open
The NOTAM (Notice to all air men) for Ocracoke airport was lifted at 1 p.m. The facility is now open to all air traffic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Official NC Ferry Information

MANNS HARBOR — The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division today activated the emergency route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe. Currently the ferries are not running a set schedule, but are taking the top three priorities as announced by Dare County and will begin a set schedule tomorrow. Also, the Pamlico Sound routes will return to a normal schedule tomorrow under specific re-entry guidelines.

Emergency Route
Wed., Oct. 31, a schedule will be in place to assist Dare County with re-entry. According to Dare County Emergency Management, Priorities One, Two and Three will have access to and from Hatteras Island. Visitors will not be allowed to enter Hatteras Island yet, but will be allowed to depart. Essential commodities, as determined by DCEM will have top priority.

•    Priority One includes - Essential personnel (utilities, government, assessment teams, medical/health care), white Disaster Re-entry Permit/Critical Personnel Pass required;
•    Priority Two includes - Hatteras Island residents (must have a valid NC driver’s license with Hatteras physical address), personnel of crucial businesses (Orange re-entry permit/Priority II personnel pass required); and
•    Priority Three includes - Non-resident property owners and employees of Hatteras Island businesses (2012-2013 Burgundy reentry permit required).

There will be law enforcement in place at the emergency route to determine re-entry status. Please contact Dare County Emergency Management at (252) 475-5655 for additional information on re-entry guidelines.

The Emergency Route schedule beginning Oct. 31, 2012, will be:
•    Departing Stumpy Point at 6 a.m., 8, 10, noon, 2 p.m., 4 and 10; and
•    Departing Rodanthe at 7 a.m., 9, 11, 1 p.m., 3, 5 and 7.

There may be areas along NC 12 that are impassable at this time due to sand and water on the road, but NCDOT continues working and expects to have all areas of NC 12 south of Rodanthe cleared before the 7 p.m. ferry departs Rodanthe.

Pamlico Sound Routes
There will be two return runs at 4 p.m. today from both Cedar Island and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke and a 4 p.m. run from Ocracoke to Cedar Island. Beginning tomorrow, the Pamlico Sound schedule will return to its normal fall schedule of four departures from each side at Cedar Island-Ocracoke route and two departures from each side at Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route. The schedule beginning tomorrow is:
•    Departing Cedar Island and Ocracoke at 7:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 4;
•    Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and
•    Departing Ocracoke to Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

According to Hyde County Emergency Management, visitors will not be allowed entry at this time but will allow the following:
•    Emergency Personnel – Hyde County red re-entry tag or purple priority re-entry sticker;
•    Infrastructure – Hyde County yellow re-entry tag or purple priority re-entry sticker; and
•    Residents – Hyde County green re-entry tag or green resident re-entry sticker.
For re-entry questions, please call Hyde County Manager at (252) 542-9283 or Hyde County Public Information at (252) 542-0842.

Hatteras-Ocracoke Route
The Hatteras-Ocracoke route will begin operating once sand is cleared off NC 12 from Ocracoke Village to the ferry dock.

Ferry information is available by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 1, or via Twitter at

Sound ferrries to resume normal operations

October 30, 2012

As of tomorrow, October 31, all operations for the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island - Ocracoke ferry routes will return to normal. This means all reservations - pending availability - will be accepted. There will be no re-entry permit required.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route remains suspended until further notice.

Hurricane Sandy Public Advisory 6

October 29, 2012
As of 3 p.m.

The final internal tropical advisory for Hurricane Sandy was issued at 9 p.m. Monday night. Current weather conditions are clear and calm and there is no more tropical weather in the forecast at this time.
Overall, there was minimal property damage on Ocracoke Island from Sandy. Six homes and three businesses on Ocracoke had water enter the structure. Flooding was minimal on the mainland, with several low-lying properties in Engelhard seeing high water. No homes were affected on the mainland. In addition, no injuries were reported in all of Hyde County from Hurricane Sandy.
Water is still standing in several low-lying areas in Ocracoke village and Engelhard. Citizens are still urged to be cautious when walking or driving.
Transportation on NC 12 on the north end of Ocracoke is currently compromised due to a 400-yard section of dune line that has been washed out. Crews from NC DOT are working to fix the problem.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke route remains suspended due to limited transportation on NC 12 at the north end of Ocracoke. NC Ferry Division officials reported Rollinson's Channel is navigable, but service is pending safe transportation on NC 12. Hyde County emergency personnel are communicating with the necessary agencies to evaluate the situation. The ferry route will likely be activated once NC 12 is deemed safe.
Sound routes are running a limited schedule today and will resume normal operations tomorrow. At this time, only residents, essential personal and infrastructure-related personnel are allowed to enter Ocracoke. Residents must show re-entry tags to board the ferry. Tolls will be exempt for residents with re-entry tags at this time. There are no restrictions on leaving the island.
Today's routes for the Swan Quarter - Ocracoke ferries are as follows:
- Leaving Swan Quarter at 4 p.m
Today's routes for the Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferries are as follows:
- Leaving Ocracoke at 4 p.m.
- Leaving Cedar Island at 4 p.m.
Normal winter ferry schedules for sound routes will resume tomorrow.
The emergency ferry from Rodanthe to Stumpy Point has been activated and is running routes at this time. NC 12 is passable from Hatteras village to Rodanthe, but closed from Rodanthe north to the Bonner Bridge. The Bonner Bridge is also closed.
The National Park Service has closed beaches to vehicular access until further notice. Pedestrian access is not restricted. NPS officials also reported the Ocracoke Ponies survived the storm and are well.
Hyde Emergency officials are working with state and federal agencies to determine eligibility for individual and public assistance.
Air traffic at the Ocracoke Airport remains limited to government, military and emergency aircraft.
Hyde Transit is providing service for Ocracoke residents wishing to go to Washington NC tomorrow. The transit bus is scheduled to be on the island this evening, and will be leaving tomorrow on the 7 a.m. Swan Quarter ferry. To reserve a space, call Lorenzo Farrow at 944-1875
The Ocracoke Health Center is operating under normal business hours, but medications and services may be limited. Those with acute medical needs can call 928-SICK.
Ground operations for EMS resumed this morning at 8 a.m.
Early voting on Ocracoke Island has been rescheduled to Thursday at the Ocracoke Community Center.
All Hyde County Convenience sites are operating on normal schedules. Click here for schedules.
According to Hyde County Health Director Wes Smith, those with private wells must take steps to disinfect water. Click here for specifics on decontaminating wells.
Volunteers from the United Methodist Disaster Response team are waiting to assist Ocracoke residents with clean up. They also have supplies - including buckets, mops and cleaning solution - available free of charge. Those in need can call Tommy Gilbert at (252) 542-9453.
Hyde County District Court will convene as scheduled on October 31, at 9:30 a.m. Those that have difficulties traveling to Swan Quarter from Ocracoke and the Outer Banks are asked to call the Clerk of Court's office at (252) 926-4101 for further information.
Please tune in to local radio WOVV 90.1 FM on Ocracoke Island, or via the internet at, or check the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page for updates.

Tuesday Morning

All indications are that Ocracoke village has been spared major damage from hurricane Sandy. I still don't know the full extent of various problems -- flooded cars, tree limbs down, etc. -- but I believe Sandy's impact here is minimal. We are still waiting to learn about the condition of NC Highway 12 on Ocracoke and farther north on the Outer Banks.

In the meanwhile our thoughts go out to all of our friends and fellow citizens in the northeast who are dealing with deaths, severe damage, and widespread destruction from this powerful storm.

High Tide

Amy points to the high tide line for Hurricane Sandy (not as bad as it could have been):

High Tide, Hurricane Sandy

Monday, October 29, 2012

Temporary Bridge

This photo was sent to me moments ago. It is the "temporary" bridge that was erected on Pea Island after hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Sandy Public Advisory 5

October 29, 2012
As of 4 p.m.

Flood waters remain on Ocracoke Island, but have receded from 18-24 inches down to 6-10 inches throughout the village. Thus far, power has been mainly uninterrupted. Several businesses are open and provisions - including hot meals, gas and groceries - are available for purchase.

No storm-related injuries have been reported and property damage looks to be minimal at this point. Because of limited access, Hyde County Emergency Personnel have not performed damage assessments. Staffers are making preparations to determine individual and public assistance needs as soon as conditions allow. 

The United Methodist Disaster Recovery volunteers are ready to assist with cleanup efforts. Plans are in the works to mobilize a team when transportation allows. Those needing assistance can call Tommy Gilbert at (252) 542-9453.

Transportation remains limited on Ocracoke Island. At this point, there is no word on when ferry service will resume. Also, NC 12 has seen significant over wash on the north end of the island, so transportation could be further compromised for those on Ocracoke. Crews with NC DOT are currently working to repair the roadway. 

Due to conditions, the Ocracoke Airport is closed and air traffic is limited to government, military and emergency aircraft only.

Ocracoke School was closed today. Officials will notify parents if the school is to be closed tomorrow.
Sandy's updated track shows increased strength and forward speed, so forecasters are confident that the system will be moving out of the area expediently. Storm force winds are predicted to cease by 8 p.m. 
Tuesday night. Flood waters may begin to recede further tomorrow, but additional flooding could take place during high tide cycles. High tide will occur tonight (Monday) around 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
The National Weather Service noted because Sandy is a hybrid system, accurate forecasts can be challenging and may vary as the system progresses.

Flood waters pose an additional danger to residents with private wells. According to Hyde County Health Director Wes Smith, those with private wells must take steps to disinfect water. Click here for specifics on decontaminating wells.

Persons on Ocracoke Island should continue to monitor flooding and exercise caution. Rushing flood waters are extremely dangerous and debris from flooding will likely pose additional hazards.
In case of emergency, dial 911. For medical non-emergencies, call 928-SICK. Hyde County Emergency Responders will make every effort to respond to emergencies. Due to conditions, however, response may be delayed.
Please tune in to local radio WOVV 90.1 FM on Ocracoke Island, or via the internet at, or check the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page for updates.

Sailing Vessel Sinks off North Carolina

"Officials say a ship [a 180 foot, 3 masted tall ship] started taking [on] water off our coast and eventually sank, forcing the crew to abandon ship into 18-foot waves and 40 mile per hour winds off the North Carolina coast."

You can read more here:

Sandy Update

Tide is still covering most of the village, winds are steady at about 20 mph with gusts of 30-35 mph, and the temperature has been in the low to mid 60s. There doesn't seem to be much damage to homes, buildings, or trees in the village.

Our thoughts go out to our fellow citizens to the northeast as Sandy bears down on their coast.

Sandy & Portsmouth Island

From The Rocky Mount Telegram:

"South of Ocracoke, a group of people was forced to wait out the storm on Portsmouth Island, a former fishing village that is now uninhabited and accessible only by private ferry.
'We tried to get off the island and the ferry service shut down on us,' said Bill Rowley, 49, of Rocky Mount, N.C., adding that there were about 20 people on the island."

You can read more here:

Hurricane Sandy Public Advisory 4

October 28, 2012
As of 10:30 p.m.

With the northwest wind switch from Hurricane Sandy, Hyde County Emergency officials have observed a rise in flood waters on the island, as of 10 p.m. this evening. At this time, water levels appear to be higher than the 18-24 inches that inundated the island earlier today. 

Currently, Ocracoke is experiencing light rain, with sustained winds from the north-northwest at 10-15 mph , gusting at 20+ mph. The temperature is 56 degrees. As of 5 p.m., water levels rapidly receded, dropping 4-6 inches. However, levels are steadily rising once again due to high tide and a change in the predominant wind direction. The National Weather Service predicted a sound side storm surge of 4-7 feet above ground.
Additional threats could be posed at the high tide cycle at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

Persons on Ocracoke Island should be aware waters may continue to rise and could encroach on low-lying properties. Please use caution during this time and remain indoors. Rushing flood waters are extremely dangerous and debris from flooding will likely pose additional hazards.

In case of emergency, dial 911. For medical non-emergencies, call 928-SICK.

Hyde County Emergency Responders will make every effort to respond to emergencies. Due to conditions, however, response may be delayed.

Please tune in to local radio WOVV 90.1 FM on Ocracoke Island, or via the internet at, or check the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page for updates.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

John's Enhanced Images

Photos from John

"A couple of pictures of Silver lake taken at 3:15 pm on Sunday with the wind howling from the north at 40 MPH. Quite a sight."

Advisory 3

Hurricane Sandy Public Advisory 3
October 28, 2012
As of 1 p.m.

Ocracoke Island is currently experiencing extreme sound side flooding, with some areas presently inundated with more than 18 inches of water. Several homes and businesses are threatened at this point. With an anticipated 45 hours left in the weather event, Hyde County Deputy Emergency Operation Center is active and resources are staged to respond to hazardous conditions and emergencies related to Hurricane Sandy.
As of the 11 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the forecast track has been slightly shifted to the east and Sandy continues to move northeast at 14 mph. The eye of Sandy will pass about 230 miles away from Hyde County at its closest point.
The National Weather Service has upped the storm surge forecast to 4-7 feet above ground on the sound side of Ocracoke Island, with peak surge times to take place at the next high tide cycle on Monday morning. Ocean storm surge is predicted to be 2-4 feet above ground. Minor storm surges are projected for mainland Hyde County.
High tides for today are 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow.
Winds are not forecasted to let up over the next 24 hours, but they will slowly change to a northwesterly and westerly direction. Currently, sustained winds are projected at 40-55 mph for Ocracoke and Engelhard, with gusts up to 50-70 mph. Other areas of the mainland are seeing winds of 25-35 mph, gusting 40-55 mph. Rainfall accumulations are expected to be 1.25 to 4 inches on Ocracoke and .75 to 3 inches on the Mainland over the next five days.
Impacts are expected to decrease tomorrow afternoon into tomorrow night as the system pulls out of the area on Tuesday morning.
Ground service for Emergency Medical Service remains suspended, however resources are in place should citizens have acute medical needs. On Ocracoke, persons needing medical attention are directed to call 911 and will be asked to provide their own transportation to the EMS Station for on site treatment.
Transportation is extremely limited on the island. NC 12 / Irvin Garrish Highway is flooded with 18-24 inches of water in the village and at least 2 inches of moving water on the highway north of the village.
All ferry routes have been suspended, as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
Reports from Dare County indicate transportation on NC 12 on Hatteras Island has been compromised due to ocean over wash at several points on the road and the highway has been closed from the Oregon Inlet Bridge to Rodanthe.
Parts of Ocracoke village lost power this morning from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Tideland EMC has an unconfirmed report of a power pole down in the water. As a result, service may be suspended for repairs. Tideland has assured they will activate the generator on the island should service be interrupted.
Hot meals are available for purchase at Ocracoke Station and Topless Oyster.
Reports from mainland Hyde indicate little or no damage.
Please tune in to local radio WOVV 90.1 FM on Ocracoke Island, or via the internet at, or check the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page for updates.

A View From the Wahab Home

This gives a whole new meaning to harbor front property!

Photo by Helena Stevens

And Even More

These photos are thanks to Amy Howard.

Blanche's Driveway

High ground parking

From the parking lot of the Ragpicker to the harbor

Ride the Wind kayaks...Hope they are tied down

In front of the Slushy Stand

Harbor flowing in

Blurry from the wind and rain, but dry

Also dry on the corner of Lawton Ln. and Howard St.

School River...I mean School Road

Still rising

School Road in front of Natural Selections

More Photos

Melissa Garrish Sharber shared these photos with us.

Hwy 12 towards the Variety Store

A back yard

Corner of Back Rd and Hwy 12 (@ Pirate's Chest)

Hwy 12 (looking into the Pony Island Motel lawn)

Hwy 12 from Pirate's Chest looking toward the harbor

Hwy 12

Hwy 12 looking away from the harbor

Almost 8 Years and 3 Months From Alex

Sandy is reminding us all of Hurricane Alex. There are reports all over the island of Sound water pouring in. Some are without power, but in our little nook here on Howard St. we are dry and somewhat protected from the winds. I'm not sure how much longer we will be dry as the water is creeping down Blanche's driveway and School Rd. looks like School River instead.

This photo selection is thanks to Miggy O'Neal. Following posts will have photos from other friends as I get them.

An angry Pamlico Sound
Where is the dock?


This gives the buoy a whole new meaning.

Waterway, not driveway anymore.

"At least it's old"

British Cemetery Road (around the corner on the left is the British Cemetery)

A Street in Widgeon Woods

Widgeon Woods, October 28, 2012

Storm Report

Latest report from a neighbor:

"I rode down to the pony pen about 1 hour ago [about 6 am]. The tide is boiling across the road from the Post Office to past Howard's Pub. Can't get past Van's on Howard Street [about 1/3 of the way from Hwy 12]. The back road [where the Clinic & Fire Hall are located] is totally flooded. The tide is coming up the drive between the Masonic Lodge and the Clinic."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy Public Advisory
October 27, 2012
As of 4 p.m.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Hyde County Emergency Services has suspended ground transport of Emergency Medical Services. Unsafe travel conditions and ocean over wash on NC Highway 12/Irvin Garrish Highway on the northern end of Ocracoke Island warranted staffers at the Emergency Operations Center to make the decision. The Ocracoke Deputy EOC was activated at 8 a.m. this morning.

Travelers should be aware the N.C. Ferry Division has suspended service on all routes. There is no transportation on or off Ocracoke Island at this time.

There has been no evacuation order issued and Hyde County does not anticipate issuing evacuation orders at this time.

The updated track of Hurricane Sandy shows the system will remain a hurricane. Although it is not expected to make landfall in North Carolina, it is predicted to pass close enough - approximately 170 miles at its closest point to Ocracoke - to present hazardous conditions for people and property.

The National Weather Service has predicted sustained winds of 39+ MPH to begin at 2 p.m. today for Ocracoke. As of 3 p.m., winds in Ocracoke village were out of the northeast, clocked at approximately 25 mph with higher gusts. By early Sunday morning, Ocracoke Island and Engelhard will likely be exposed to 45+ MPH sustained winds that will continue through early Tuesday morning, with gusts of 60-70 mph. 

Sustained winds of 30-40 mph are forecasted for other areas of mainland Hyde County, with gusts of 40-50 mph.

The townships of Ocracoke and Engelhard should take additional precautions when the system is closest, which is predicted to be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday. 

An estimated 4-6 inches of rainfall is predicted for the mainland and up to 8 inches will likely fall in Ocracoke over the next five days, localized amounts may exceed these predictions.

Coastal flooding remains a serious concern for Ocracoke, with a forecasted storm surge of 1-3 feet above the ground on the ocean side and a sound side storm surge of 3-5 feet above the ground; this is less of a concern for Mainland Hyde, which is projected to receive less than one foot of surge above the ground. Wave heights of 2-5 feet are forecasted in the Pamlico Sound and seas will build to 8-12 feet along the beaches. Storm surge will be higher during periods of high tide, which will occur at around 6 AM and 6 PM. Astronomical high tides due to lunar phases are not anticipated to pose any additional threat. As of high tide this morning, the waves reached the toe of the dune line along Ocracoke beaches. Evidence of ocean over wash is already apparent on the northern end of the island. 

The National Park Service will close beaches close at 5 p.m. today, as well as the Visitor's Center and permit offices. The National Park Service Campground closed at noon.

If winds exceed 50 mph, Hyde County Emergency Operations will cease.

Hyde officials declared a State of Emergency as of 2 p.m. Friday, October 26 2012. This declaration places all county staff in a state of readiness and enables Hyde County to receive assistance from the State Office of Emergency Management should it be required. The declaration does not prohibit the sale of alcohol.

Please tune in to local radio WOVV 90.1 FM on Ocracoke Island, or via the internet at, or check the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page for updates.

Pesky Sandy

We are getting some wind and rain from the outer bands of Hurricane Sandy. It looks like the hurricane force winds will leave us alone, but we will have high tides and lots of rain to contend with. Unfortunately for all our friends in the northeast, it looks like you will have to deal with the brunt of Sandy. We will be thinking of you as she comes ashore north of us. Tie things down, move things up and get your flashlights ready.

For those of you who want to get an idea of what the weather is like here, check out this site with links to many of the web cams on the Outer Banks.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:  

Songs and Stories of the Sounds and Seas...

...(with a King Mackerel or Two!).

Don Dixon and Bland Simpson, seasoned and talented performers from coastal North Carolina, have crafted a new and exciting evening performance for Saturday, November 3, 7:30 pm at the Ocracoke Community Center. Their show will include key numbers from their hit musical, "King Mackerel and the Blues are Running" as well as other songs and stories of the Carolina Coast.

Sponsored by the Ocracoke Foundation, this event is designed as a thank-you to our island fishermen and others who have worked to create awareness of Ocracoke's heritage and resources. It is also a fund raiser and "friend raiser" for the Ocracoke Community Square projects.

As Merle Davis commented, "this performance will be a lively and enjoyable time for all... We are in for a treat! Don't miss it!"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Willful Waste...

...makes a woeful want.

A couple of days ago I stopped by to visit Blanche. It was a beautiful and warm October morning, and Blanche was outside cutting up old coats with a pair of scissors. Blanche told me she was cutting the zippers out of the coats.

"What are you going to do with the zippers?" I asked. Blanche laughed and said she didn't know what she was going to do with them. "I don't even sew," she said, "but papa always instilled in us not to waste things."

Then Blanche recited one of her papa's favorite sayings: "A willful waste makes a woeful want." Not bad advice...especially if you sew!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dancing Man

One of the classes for this year's OcraFolk School was wood carving, taught by Frank Boyd. Singer/songwriter and friend from Wilmington, NC, John Golden, attended the class and decided to make a wooden dancing man (sometimes called a limberjack). He proceeded to carve a dancing man that looks suspiciously like one of the regular performers at the OcraFolk Opry. Maybe you can guess who the inspiration was for his creation:

You can imagine how happy I was when John presented the dancing man to me as a gift during the last morning of the OcraFolk School. Here I am demonstrating how well this fellow dances:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mr. Leonard Meeker

For an hour last night island resident Leonard Meeker captivated more than 75 people crowded into the Ocracoke library as he shared his first hand account of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. As senior legal counsel to the State Department during John F. Kennedy's presidency Leonard had a unique opportunity to participate in and help shape US policy that very likely prevented a nuclear exchange and WWIII.

Leonard's excellent presentation was taped. I understand that our local radio station WOVV will broadcast his talk this afternoon about 4:30 or 5 o'clock. You can listen on the Internet. Click here to go to WOVV's web site:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Lehigh

While approaching Ocracoke Island from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island the ferry will enter Big Foot Slough Channel and pass two metal piles a few miles northwest of the village. The piles are of unequal length, and many visitors wonder what they are.

These piles are called spuds. They are part of a sunken dredge (the Lehigh) which sank in 1942. Spuds are used to pinion a dredge to the bottom while working. Native islander Benjamin Early Spencer was captain of the Lehigh, and a couple of other Ocracokers were working on the dredge along with about nine other men.

The Lehigh was approaching Ocracoke to dredge the harbor in preparation for bringing vessels to the docks at the WWII naval base. The Navy's mission was to thwart German U-boat activity off shore.

Strong winds produced huge waves that swamped the dredge, and she quickly sank. Navy personnel at the newly established base rescued the captain and crew.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Ocracoke Community Library will begin an evening programs series tomorrow, Tuesday, October 23, at 7 p.m. Ocracoke resident, and former Ambassador to Romania, Leonard C. Meeker will talk about President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. 

During the early 1960s, Ambassador Meeker was a senior legal counsel to the State Department and is well qualified to shed light on this period in American history. These talks are sponsored by the Ocracoke Friends of the Library. 

If you are on the island be sure to come out to the library tomorrow night. Other programs will be announced in the near future. For more information, please contact the library weekdays between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. at 252 928-4436.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Our Latest Ocracoke Newsletter, the little-known story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812, has just been published. You can read it here:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Try Yard Creek

Although Outer Bankers engaged in commercial whaling in the nineteenth century, it was never more than a minor industry. For the most part Bankers primarily processed "drift whales," whales that washed up on the beach. Ocracoke's connection to whaling lives on in the name of the northernmost creek that crosses NC Highway 12 -- Try Yard Creek. Near there whale blubber was "tried" or "rendered" for the oil.

According to Rodney Barfield in his book, Seasoned by Salt, the first documented license for whaling in North Carolina was issued to Samuel Chadwick of New England. The 1725 license reads "To Samual Chadwick you are hereby permitted with three boats to fish for Whale or Other Royall fish on ye Seay Coast of this Government and whatsoever you shall catch to convert to your own use paying to ye Hon. ye Governor one tenth parte of ye Oyls and bone Made by Vertue of this License."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Turk's Head Bracelet

The OcraFolk School Sampler Class spent Wednesday sailing aboard the schooner Windfall II. Every year Captain Rob instructs the students about Ocracoke's seafaring traditions, including information about navigation, sea chanteys, maritime terminology, and knot tying. 

This was my annual opportunity to make another Turk's Head Bracelet. The bracelet on the left is an older version (I cut it off immediately after taking the photo). The bracelet on the right will last for many months, maybe even until next year.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Water Fire

If you walk, bike, or drive down Lighthouse Road you may notice one street sign with a peculiar name..."Water Fired  Rd." And you may have wondered where that name came from.

In warm weather microscopic phosphorescent plankton will often light up the water at night with thousands of sparkly pin points of light. This is especially noticeable when an oar, a hand, or a school of fish passes through the water. On Ocracoke this phenomenon is called "water fire."

Local fishermen have traditionally associated the appearance of water fire with poor fishing, hence the expression, "Last night the water fired. No fish today."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Our OcraFolk School Sampler class visited Portsmouth Island village yesterday. Just a few quick comments:

-- The weather was nearly perfect...a bit windy with rough water going over (we got a little wet), but no rain, mild temperature, and sunny.

-- There were hardly any mosquitoes! Really...enough at the schoolhouse to drive us inside, and a few at the old marine hospital cistern, but virtually none anywhere else, including at Henry Piggot's house and the Life Saving Station. The wind kept them down, making for an extremely pleasant visit.

-- Rudy Austin charmed everyone with his commentary, his evident love for Portsmouth and its people, and his willingness to stay flexible in order to share his knowledge of Shell Castle, Beacon Island, and commercial fishing (he also stopped on the way back so we could enjoy the dolphins).

Everyone had a wonderful experience. (Oh yes, we also saw several old screen houses.)

 Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1952 Summer

It is getting cooler on Ocracoke as October ushers us into fall weather. I have been enjoying these brisker, less humid days, and I was recalling the hot, sometimes oppressive summer days. I was reminded of something Elizabeth Parsons told me about the summer of 1952.  It was so hot and humid, she remembered...and no one had air conditioning. Even with the windows open, and fans humming, it was almost impossible to sleep.

Finally, Elizabeth's entire family carried their sheets and pillows out to the beach where they lay down under the stars next to the surf, lulled to sleep by the sound of the breakers and a gentle breeze.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Screen House

Nearly every house on Ocracoke had one at one time. The small screen house, normally raised up several feet on posts, served to keep meats and baked goods cool(er) and protected from flies and other bugs.

With the advent of electricity in 1938, and the rapid introduction of refrigerators, islanders abandoned their screen houses. Today, I know of only one extant screen house on the island. It sits on the ground behind Blanche's house, not used for many a year. Blanche tells me her papa built it when she was six years old.

Blanche's Screen House

There are still several original screen houses in Portsmouth village. Look for them if you are over there. I am thinking I will build one for my back yard one of these days.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Folk School

This evening the 2012 OcraFolk School begins with registration and check-in between 4 & 5 pm. At 6:30 the entire school will gather at the Pony Island Restaurant for dinner (I wonder how many of the students will have read Monday's post []).

Tomorrow morning, the whole school will participate in an orientation aboard Ocracoke Alive's historic skipjack Wilma Lee. Classes begin in the afternoon. This year's classes are Island Cooking, Wood Carving, Music Appreciation, Wellness, and Ocracoke Sampler.

Additional group activities -- music jams, bonfires, a shrimp boil, bird walk, nature walk, and stargazing -- will round out the week. As usual, we are anticipating a great week for everyone.

You can read more about the OcraFolk School here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:    

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pretty Some

If you spend time with O'cockers you will very soon hear the words "pretty some" or "hot some" or similar expressions. "Some" used after an adjective (usually of one or two syllables) is equivalent to using "very" before the adjective. So, "pretty some" means "very pretty"; "hot some" means "very hot," etc.

I have never heard these expressions anywhere but on Ocracoke Island. I was surprised a few nights ago, as Lachlan, David, and I were watching a vintage episode of the Andy Griffith Show, when I heard Andy say to Aunt Bea, "'ll have to hurry some" (from "The Pickle Story").

I did a little Internet research and discovered a number of incidents of this expression from many years ago. Here are three:

["...Y]ou'll have to hurry some, Jerry, for your boss just crossed the line...." Border Incident by James W. English, a story published in Boy's Life, Nov. 1946

"You'll have to hurry some to be anywhere by morning." Pelican Pool, a Novel by Sydney De Loghe, 1917

"You'll have to hurry some," she panted, as she held a struggling leg imprisoned under each arm." The Desert and Mrs. Ajax by Edward Moffat, 1914

Of course, Ocracoke natives use "some" almost exclusively with adjectives, and "hurry" is a verb...but it wouldn't totally surprise me to hear an O'cocker telling another person he would have to "hurry some." 

Keep your ears open when you are in the village. Eventually you will hear someone remark about something that's maybe "sweet some," or "soft some," or "pretty some."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here:    

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Schoolhouse

Below is a photo of the 1917 Ocracoke Schoolhouse. You can click on the photo to see a larger image. When you do, look carefully at the corner braces in the front entrance way. I had been told that those braces were recycled for use on another island building. The other day I rode my bike down to the building to take a photo and was surprised to discover that the corner braces are different. Maybe one of our local readers knows if the schoolhouse braces can be located.

1917 Ocracoke Schoolhouse

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a gallery of photos of fences on Howard Street and Lawton Lane. To go directly to the this month's Newsletter click here: