Monday, October 15, 2018

Clams

One of the most satisfying activities is harvesting seafood for dinner. In September we had friends from Berlin, Germany, visiting us. Jule and Christian had never been clamming, so I loaded the clam rakes and baskets into my pickup truck and we headed to an isolated soundside beach. In short order we had gathered almost 150 clams.





























Clams



















Back home I opened the clams, added a small strip of bacon and some Parmesan cheese, then broiled them for about 10-15 minutes. Clams Casino!















The next day I made traditional Ocracoke Clam Chowder (chopped clams, cubed potatoes, fine cut onion, bacon [or salt pork], and water). Two days in a row we feasted on the bounty, fresh from Pamlico Sound. What better way is there to celebrate life on Ocracoke?!?


















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Coupe is a Poor Submarine

The July, 2018, issue of The Ocracoke Observer included this small excerpt from a 1930 issue of the Daily Review (Hayward, California):

Coupe Poor Submarine Carolina Man Learns

Ocracoke, N.C. – A coupe does not make a good submarine, and there is a lot to be learned about driving along the beach. Aycock Brown drove along the sound side of the island at low tide. His car struck in the mud while tide was flowing. In less than three hours what had been a dry beach was 100 feet or more from land and only the hood of the coupe was visible. Capt. James Henry Garrish, using the regulation life-saving tackle, rescured the car and its driver. Islanders and coast guardsmen assisted in the rescue.

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This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Temperatures, 1900 & 2018

I recently came across a book published in 1900, Plant Covering of Ocracoke Island; a study in the Ecology of the North Carolina Strand Vegetation, by Thomas H. Kearney. In it the author lists the "normal monthly temperatures" at Hatteras as well as the "normal daily range of [monthly] temperatures." I have used these figures to calculate the "weather averages" as listed in the second column below.  The first column below lists weather averages from NOAA for 2018. 

As you can see, the 2018 average high temperature (compared to 1900) varies from 1° higher (January) to 5° higher (April), and the 2018 average low temperature varies from 0° (January) to 4° higher (April).

Ocracoke, NC
Weather averages 
from NOAA* (2018)                                               from PCOI** (1900)

January      53° / 39°                                                         52°/39°

February    55° / 41°                                                          53°/40°

March        61° / 46°                                                         57°/44°

April           68° / 55°                                                         63°/51°

May           75° / 63°                                                         72°/61°

June           82° / 71°                                                         79°/69°

July            85° / 74°                                                         83°/73°

August        85° / 74°                                                       82°/73°

September  82° / 70°                                                       79°/69°

October      73° / 62°                                                       70°/59°

November  65° / 52°                                                      61°/50°

December  58° / 45°                                                      55°/42°

* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018
** Plant covering of Ocracoke Island; a study in the ecology of the North Carolina Strand Vegegation, Kearney, Thomas H, 1900 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pelagic Birds

Every now and then a pelagic bird (a bird that spends most of its time on the open ocean) will visit Ocracoke. This sometimes happens when an albatross or other exotic pelagic bird is blown here during a gale or hurricane.

I recently learned about Brian Patteson's Hatteras Island based Seabirding Pelagic Trips. Trips to the Gulf Stream aboard the Stormy Petrol II take place year around. As their web site explains,  "the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras is probably the most consistent (and convenient) place in the western North Atlantic for finding a variety of pelagic seabirds on any given day. Getting there usually only takes between 2 to 2.5 hours of traveling each direction, so most of our day is spent in or along the Gulf Stream."

Northern Gannet, Photo by Peter Vankevich














As I write, Patteson's enterprise still has space on several more trips to the Gulf Stream in October. If this fall is not a convenient time for you, or you would like more information about seabirding, check out Brian's web site at http://www.patteson.com/ .

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Landing Mats

Marsden Mats were originally developed by the US military during WWII for use as temporary runways and landing strips. Approximately 2 million tons of this material was produced, at a cost of about $200 million.

After the war these landing mats were laid down on Ocracoke Island soft sand to serve as roads. In 1957 a three mile section of landing mats at the north end of the island joined the nearly completed hard surface road (NC12) that, for the first time, connected Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet.



















The caption that accompanied this photograph in the June 1957 monthly report for the seashore read: “Three miles of steel matting and eleven of black-top paving now make it possible to drive a conventional car from Hatteras Inlet to Ocracoke village.” (NPS photograph by Verde Watson, Superintendent’s Monthly Narrative Report, June 1957, CAHA archives). “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Administrative History,” Aug 2007, page 136.

On March 24, 1959, the Pittsburgh Press ran an article by Gilbert Love describing coming to Ocracoke. Below is an excerpt:

Your “port” on Ocracoke is composed of several clusters of pilings. The ferry lets its ramp down on a piece of mesh landing strip laid across the beach. You drive off onto this – then discover that it’s your road. For three miles, across the low sandy northeastern end of the island, you drive on metal mesh little wider than your car. At frequent intervals another width is laid beside the “road” to make passing possible. Finally you reach higher ground – low dunes with scrub palmettos and evergreen yaupon on them – and the black top road that was completed last year [sic]. In marshes bordering the sea or Pamlico Sound you begin to see some of the wild ponies for which Ocracoke is famous.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Driving to Hatteras, 1932

From MotorBoating Magazine, Jan, 1932"

"At two o’clock the next day we left for Hatteras Inlet at the northernmost end of Ocracoke. As the tide was up, we could not drive the beach, but took the inland road through the sand dunes. Our chauffeur drove his hard pressed Ford with calloused bare feet. Much of the road was loose sand which must be traveled at a fairly high speed to prevent stalling. This made it necessary to charge through these bad places, which resulted in some terrible shocks and jolts to the car, as it jerked through the crooked ruts. The thousands of sand crabs seemed to have selected the wheel tracks for doorways to their underground homes and this did not improve riding conditions. As the state spends nothing on these roads, no license plates are required.

One of just a few Island Beach Vehicles, 1940s












 
"Before we discharged our jitneyman at Hatteras Inlet Coast Guard Station, we asked the Commander there if he would take us across to Hatteras, a distance of five miles. He told us he would take us over right away if we wished to go then, or at 4:30 when he went for his mail. We had no reason to go over sooner so we prowled the beach for an hour or so. After having a cup of coast guard coffee, we were taken across Hatteras inlet in a motor whaleboat. The coast guardsmen down there would delight the eye of a college football coach. They are all fine physical specimens. Most of them weigh two hundred pounds each and average six feet tall. The older men seem as fit and as active as the younger men. The channel from the ocean into the sound is similar to that at Ocracoke Inlet, in that it divides, and deep water follows close to the two islands. About 12 feet can be carried into both Ocraocke and Hatteras inlets, and from 4 to 6 feet into Origon inlet, which is south of Bodie Island light, but the channels are shifting and local knowledge is necessary to safely navigate them."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Mermaid's Purse....

.....or Devil's Pocketbook?














Or Skate Egg Case!

These small (about 2" long, not counting the "horns") organic pouches found on our beaches can be somewhat pliable or rather rigid, but they are quite durable. I learned to call them Devil's Pocketbooks, but more romantic beachcombers call them Mermaid's Purses. These fascinating objects are actually skate egg cases.

Island resident Crystal Caterbury has written an informative article (with photos) about these egg cases in the Ocracoke Current. You can read it here:  http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/126604.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

1846 Hurricane

The hurricane of September 7, 1846, struck the Outer Banks most powerfully twenty to fifty miles north of Portsmouth island, but it led to the demise of the village of Portsmouth. Why was that?

The hurricane was a powerful, slow-moving tropical system that brought gale force winds, sudden squalls, and a rushing surf that destroyed almost everything in its path. But Portsmouth village was spared the brunt of the storm. Nevertheless, the results of the hurricane precipitated the slow abandonment of Portsmouth village. By 1971 the last of the residents left the island, leaving behind their church, the post office, the Coast Guard station, and a dozen or more houses. Today, Portsmouth is a ghost town.

I am wondering if any of our readers can explain why this storm led to the death of Portsmouth. If you know, please leave a comment. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

USS Monitor

If you do an internet search for the USS Monitor you will discover that this famous sunken Civil War ironclad vessel was located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1973 near Cape Hatteras. I remember well an excited chat I had in the Village Craftsmen with a reporter for the Washington Post at the time of the discovery.

So I was surprised to recently discover this newspaper article from July 1955:

Leatherneck Skin Diver Claims Monitor Found Off Buxton, N.C.

A 21-year-old Marine skin diver confidently announced last Sunday he has found—and touched with his own hands—the sunken hull of the famous Yankee Civil War ship, the Monitor, according to an Associated Press dispatch.

In fact, he says, he has stuck a note to that effect in one of the vessel’s gun ports.

Corporal Robert F. Marx, stationed at Camp Lejeune, said he located the Monitor hull in about 50 feet of water in the Atlantic, a mile east of Buxton, N. C., on the outer banks near Cape Hatteras. “I found the thing,” he said calmly. “It was buried in the sand, with the turret sticking out about four feet. I’m sure it’s the Monitor.”

One historian, expressing some doubt, said that if Marx is right he has scored the “coup of the century” in naval history. For nearly a hundred years, men have searched in vain for this historic vessel.

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A little digging on the internet rewarded me with more information about Robert Marx's adventure. You can read Clay Blair's detailed account in his 2015 book, Diving for Treasure and Pleasure

In spite of Marx's 1955 claim, official reports tell a different story. According the Monitor National Maritime Sanctuary website, in 1973 "a team of scientists aboard Duke University Research Vessel Eastward located the shipwreck remains of what they believed to be the USS Monitor lying upside down [not right side up] in 230 feet of water [not 50 feet of water], approximately 16 miles [not one miled] off Cape Hatteras, N.C. A 1974 expedition confirmed that the shipwreck was in fact the Monitor."
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This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

"Porpoises"

In the 1950s Franklin William (Bill) Cochran operated a flying service between Hatteras and Ocracoke. He was also an occasional contributor to local publications. The following undated clipping is part of the collection at the Ocracoke Preservation Society. [Although porpoises and dolphins are different species, Outer Bankers traditionally used the terms interchangeably. The aquatic animals most often seen in Outer Banks waters are bottlenose dolphins.]

Bottlenose Dolphin (NASA photo)













PORPOISE PATH PARALLELS PLANE ON OUTER BANKS
Cape Hatteras Flier Usually Finds The Fish In Ocean All Going His Way
By FRANKLIN M.[sic] COCHRAN

Buxton. — Knowing absolutely nothing about the habits, haunts and inner character of the Porpoise, I feel that I can speak freely. To me, they seem friendly. They may have the blackest hearts of all the fish in the sea. Being mammals, like us, this might well be. They always seem to be smiling or grinning, and playful. Anyway, I like 'em.

Lately, off Cape Hatteras can be seen the phenomena of fishes flying, although they aren't flying fishes. They're baby porpoises and their mother's are teaching them, of all things, the fine art of breathing.

A porpoise, as all porpoise lovers know, has a rather nasty habit of bumping. This would be apt to get anything but another porpoise a punch in the snoot, but it is their way of manifesting either affection or anger. The oomph behind the bump is calculated to measure the amount of emphasis needed to suit the occasion.

Naturally, with a new-born baby porpoise, a careful, somewhat loving little bump will at first suffice to get him out of the water and into the air, where he can take himself a helping of the breath of life. For, believe it or not, he requires from the start, the very same air we breathe, minus the smog, to sustain life. For the porpoise is: "A warm-blooded mammal that suckles its young on milk and would drown if it did not frequently rise to the surface of the sea to breathe air."

The baby porpoise, of course, does not understand all of this, never having read the encyclopedia, hence the game of "bumpsy."

Just about every species of fish that swims in the sea has been caught at some time or another off the beaches of the Outer Banks. Even the sawfish and the headfish Game fish and pan fish are plentiful. When the season runs out on one species, two or three other varieties arrive in time to steal your bait. But they're all fickle and seasonal—except old "gandi-dancer," the porpoise.. He stays with me all year.

When you are flying alone and the ocean is glassy-smooth and there's no sign of life on sea or shore, it's lonesome. Then a porpoise cuts the surface, making a graceful ripple. Another one makes a smooth, surfacing maneuver, and then another. You can follow their track as they dive and surface, dive and surface. Sometimes the whole ocean is alive with the creatures. 

And what do you know, they're all going my way!

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This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Fishing at Ocracoke, 1937


From The Beaufort News, Sept. 30, 1937

Stanley Wahab who is developing Wahab Village on Ocracoke Island is advertising in the News and Observer an October Fishing contest on the island with a series of prizes, cups, tackle and fishing equipment generally, offered as prizes. The rates for guides in the Wahab sponsored contest is $9 per day for one person and guide, $7 per day for two persons and guide and $6 per day for party of three and guide…. And incidentally the October fishing, if weather is favorable, will be good. It always is at Ocracoke. 














This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.