Tuesday, April 02, 2013


Every now and then I mention the old mailboat Aleta on this blog. (You can use the search box at the top left to read past posts.) The photo below is one I have published before. It will give new readers an image of the boat.

Mailboat Aleta

Several days ago Mary Ruth & Paul Dickson sent me copies of many of Mary Ruth's father's snapshots from the 1950s. This next photo is from Mary Ruth, and has only recently been published. The woman is sitting on one of the benches under the canvas cover. This was the most comfortable place on the vessel. You will notice that the captain decided to also bring aboard a load of barrels.The poor woman only has just enough room for her legs. Passenger amenities were in short supply on this voyage!

Under the Canvas Awning

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a video of Philip Howard telling the story of the 1861 wreck of the Black Squall. You can watch it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032113.htm.


  1. Anonymous7:02 AM


    I suspect you've addressed such questions in past posts, but if you'll indulge:

    - Where did the "Aleta" set out from en route to Ocracoke, Hatteras?

    - Any idea what the crossing time was back then?

    - Was it a daily route?

    - And was it considered in any way a "commuter" route? Not like today's routes, certainly, but if someone had occasion to visit Hatteras, for example, would the thought have been "I'll just take the Aleta on Thursday?" (And once someone got to Hatteras on Thursday, what might they do next, since it's doubtful their car--if they had one--made the trip with them. Was there some means of consistent, reliable transportation at the other end of the line?

    Even my long-ago first trip to the Outer Banks back in 1990 was made under cover of an air-conditioned car. Trying to imagine how folks got around under any other circumstances raises similar sentiments as those I thought the first time I took a close, "brief" look (because of the mosquitoes) at the dense, marshy woods down there:

    "Who in their right mind first stepped off a boat to explore these shores, encountered such inhospitable conditions, and DID NOT say 'It's too thick here. Let's go back.'"?

    Heartier stock, indeed.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing, especially the great photos, which must be a treat for you to find, offering ever-fresher insights into old Ocracoke. (Yes, even from back in the days before 1990.)


    1. Just to clarify -- the Aleta carried mail and passengers between Ocracoke and Atlantic, a town on the mainland...not to Hatteras. The Aleta left the island early in the morning for the 4 hour trip across Pamlico Sound. She would lay over a couple of hours to unload, then reload. The Aleta would return to Ocracoke about 4 pm. When I was a boy the Aleta tied up at the post office dock (where Captain's Landing motel is today). Before the harbor was dredged she pulled up to one of the docks in the Sound.

      The Aleta did not carry automobiles. Islanders before the 1950s traveled mostly to Washington, NC to shop and to visit doctors and dentists. (Hatteras was harder to get to, and didn't have any more services than Ocracoke.) Ocracokers usually had family and friends living in Atlantic who would take them where they needed to go.

  2. Anonymous11:25 AM

    There's a Lady on Board

    Today we set sail with a lady on board,
    She is clad in her Sunday finest.

    All hands on deck will act with respect
    as this voyage embarks with the lady on board .
    It is our duty
    for the transportation she chooses
    to sail across the bay this fine day
    to shore
    will be of note
    as a picture of this boat
    is now on a blog