Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Perils of the Sea

The following account is from The Gastonia Daily Gazette - Friday, Nov. 8, 1927:


ELIZABETH CITY, Nov. 8 - Trapped by heavy seas in a roaring gale off Ocracoke last Saturday, three fisherman lost their lives, and a fourth, able to withstand the buffeting waters, managed to swim ashore to safety. First definite details of the tragedy were received at the coast guard station here today from James H. Garrish, keeper of the Ocracoke life guard station. The sinking of the craft, the motor boat 2021-T, was witnessed by M.P. Guthrie, member of the Ocracoke coast guard crew patrolling the beach Saturday morning. The lone survivor, Joseph Gaskins, was observed wading in the surf near the shore a short time later. He was taken to the coast guard station and the crew set out in a motor boat in an effort to save the others. The body of John P. Spencer was found floating and by use of a seine, the bodies of William and Ivy O'Neil [sic] were recovered.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a recording of Rex O'Neal telling about the time he fell overboard when he was gigging for flounder. The story was recorded for Coastal Voices, an oral history project about the maritime heritage of the Outer Banks and Down East region of coastal North Carolina. Click here to listen to Rex telling his story:   


  1. Anonymous6:56 AM

    Sad day in Ocracoke

  2. Anonymous8:30 AM

    It is incredible the number of lives that have been lost in the waters of the graveyard of the Atlantic. Sad it may be, it does provide the opportunity to recognize the brave ones in our Life Saving and Coast Guard history that risked so much and worked so hard to save others. Interesting account. Thank you.

  3. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Yes these are sad stories of neighbors but the retelling of the tragedies not to place blame but to remind current boaters the important use of Life Jackets. Yes the rescue crew were called life savers not miracle workers and they no doubt would much rather pluck someone from the water alive wearing a flotation device. DD