Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Puffery in Advertising

Eight Ocracoke Inlet Pilots in 1821 issued a "Press Release" extolling the safety and navigation advantages of Ocracoke Inlet. I don't doubt their findings about the depth of the channel and the condition of the shoal when they made their soundings, but they did make some rather broad and glowing comments about the stability of the inlet. For example, "[the channel] will not be likely to fill up," and it should "improve daily." In addition, "there is not the least danger" to vessels who cannot get over the shoal, for the flood tide will re-float them.

We all know that wind, tide, storms, and hurricanes routinely reconfigure Ocracoke Inlet. What is true one day, may not be so the next. But who can blame the pilots for a little exaggeration? After all, their income depended on Masters bringing their ships through Ocracoke Inlet.

Here is the article, from The North-Carolina Star (Raleigh, North Carolina) Friday, July 27, 1821, Page 3:


We the undersigned Branch pilots, living and residing at Ocracoke, do hereby represent to the Public for the benefit of Masters and owners of Vessels, that for several days past we were of the opinion that a new Chanel [sic] was breaking out round [sic] the point of Ocracoke, till on the 8d inst. We came through that way for the purpose of sounding it out, and have the pleasure to state, that on the shoalest part we found 8 feet, although the tide had fallen several inches; and that it is not more than 5 to 10 yards across this shoal, when you drop directly into two fathoms each way, and that the tide does not cross the channel as formerly, but that the channel makes in a true direction with the tide, by which it will not be likely to fill up, but improve daily; and though the wind was blowing fresh from the South, the channel was perfectly smooth and did not break on the shoal as formerly, and that we considered it the best and the safest channel that we have ever seen at this navigation; and what is still more favorable, the Shoal now makes on the inner side of the point of Ocracoke; and should a vessel go on to it drawing 10 feet and not be able to get over, there is not the least danger, as the flod [sic] tide will bring her back into the channel. – We sounded the channel again on the 4th, and found it as the day before.

Thomas Styron,
Christopher O’Neal, Sr.,
James Bragg,
Zoroballe Gaskins,
John Bragg,
William Gaskins,
William Tolson,
Benjmin Williams, Jr.

Ocracoke, July 9, 1821

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Mrs. Godfrey's ghost who haunts the Island Inn/Odd Fellows Lodge. The story is taken from Chapter Three of my book, Digging up Uncle Evans. You can read the account here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/mrs-godfreys-ghost/.

1 comment:

  1. Julie S.7:45 AM

    1821 version of "fake news?" LOL