Tuesday, September 29, 2015

1806 Storm

The October 14, 1806 issue of The Wilmington Gazette reported news of a violent storm that caused much damage at Portsmouth and Ocracoke on this date, September 29 (and September 30), 209 years ago.

"Shell-Castle [a small island between Ocracoke and Portsmouth], Sept 29 [1806]-- About 12 o'clock last evening a gale at ENE commenced and increased in its violence until about 4 a.m. when it shifted to ESE and blew the most tremendous storm, ever I believe, witnessed by a human being, until six o'clock, when it got further to the southward, and finally to WSW where it still continues to blow with excessive force."

Nearly all of the "lighters" (smaller, shallow-draft vessels onto which cargo was transferred from larger vessels, in order to transport goods to mainland ports), as well as other schooners, were reported "sunk, ashore, or dismasted."

Model of the Governor Williams

The writer goes on to "add, to the tale of destruction, the total loss of the immensely valuable, philosophical and mathematical instruments of Col Tatham, [which] he yesterday put...on board the Governor Williams, for the purpose of having them conveyed to Newbern, and they are now buried with her in two fathom water."

The cover photo above, on the most recent issue of the Nautical Research Journal (Autumn 2015,Vol 60, No. 3), is of a model of the Governor Williams made by Jim Goodwin, nationally recognized builder of ship models and ships-in-bottles. Village Craftsmen carries a large selection of Jim's models.

The account of the 1806 storm, above, was quoted in Shipwrecks of Ocracoke Island by Sonny Williamson.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a reproduction of a 1960s booklet titled The Great Ocracoke Cat Hunt. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092115.htm.

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