Weather has always played an important and sometimes dramatic role in Outer Banks life. Just the other day I mentioned to local fisherman and hunting guide Monroe Gaskill about a menacing squall that rolled in sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. I recalled being at the Communitty Store and seeing a solid bank of black clouds advancing towards us. Fearing a tornado, we ushered our children under the heavy butcher block in the center of the store, and peered out the window as the wind tore through the village, whipping up white caps in Silver Lake.
Capt. Rob was anchored in the harbor, and we watched in dread as his sailboat broke loose from its moorings, and made its way towards what looked like a violent collision with the rock jetty on shore. Along the way the sailboat's anchor line caught on the line of a local workboat. Now joined together, both boats were headed for destruction. Just in time, however, one boat went to one side of a lone piling; the other boat went on the other side. Both vessels hung there, precariously close to the rocks. In about 30 minutes the storm passed over, and blue skies and calm returned.
Monroe remembered that squall. At the time, he and Alton Ballance were out in the sound fishing their nets when they spied the black squall. They only had time to pull in about half of their nets before the gale force winds hit them. He recalled it as one of his most violent experiences on the water. There was little to do but hunker down and wait for the fury of the wind to abate. Monroe's workboat bounced up and down on the waves, but when it was over was no worse for the beating it took. Monroe still works from that boat.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter, a newspaper article published in 1923
titled "Quaintest Town in America," provides a fascinating glimpse of
Ocracoke Island life a
century ago. You can read it here: