Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bugeyes and WWII

During WWII the US Navy established a base on Ocracoke. Earl O'Neal has written a comprehensive history of this time in his book, Ocracoke Island, Its People, the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Base During World War II.

On page 50 Earl includes the following photo of the Nettie B. Granville, a bugeye sailboat (a type of vessel originally produced in the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging) purchased by the Navy in 1942 for use as a freight boat.

Elizabeth O'Neal Howard Collection

The Nettie B had been owned by Ocracoke Native, Stanley Wahab, who equipped the sailboat with a diesel engine. During the war the vessel was captained by Thurston Gaskill, another island native, who used the boat to haul freight and supplies for the Navy Base.

After the war Stanley Wahab, Thurston Gaskill, and Wahab Howard purchased the Nettie B, and used her as a freight boat for several years, bringing needed goods to Ocracoke village.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the entertaining story of Calvin Wilkerson and his Condomed Nautilus. You can read it here:  


  1. Jeff P12:50 PM

    Warning: Chesapeake Bay boat geek comment. Based off of photo forensics, I believe the Nettie B. Granville started her life as a Buy-boat and not a Bugeye. I suppose her bowsprit and aft mast could have been removed (Bugeyes are two masted, shallow draft, oyster dredging boats), but the deckhouse/wheelhouse appears very similar to what is typically found on a Chesapeake Bay buy-boat. Who knows though. Neat picture. (For the curious types, YF stands for "covered lighter" in terms of naval vessel classification). Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jeff, thanks for the comment. It's always good to have an informed opinion. I just assumed the aft mast had been removed. I didn't notice the lack of a bowsprit. Here is what I wrote about bugeyes in 2011:

  2. Jeff P10:24 PM

    Nettie B. could certainly have started her life as a Bug-Eye, as plenty of Skipjacks and Bug-Eyes were converted to power. It would be nice if more of the original log built boats could have been saved and restored.

    In any case, I really appreciate what you do Philip. Anyone who takes the time to capture and record history in this new Interweb format is doing a real service. I can't rate blogs in general, since this is the only one I follow, but I personally think your blog is a nice addition to electronic record keeping. The new generation will only learn about the previous generations on the web. I think you are doing a great job of curating and archiving searchable history. Thanks Philip. The P crew down in a month.