Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ocracoke's Pacific Coast

In 1524 Francis I, King of France, financed a voyage to the New World by Giovanni da Verrazzano. He explored the coast of what became North Carolina, from south of Cape Fear to Cape Hatteras, seeking “some strait to get through to the Eastern Ocean.” On the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25, 1524), he reached the area of the Outer Banks near Portsmouth and Ocracoke islands. He believed this was an isthmus separating the Atlantic Ocean from an arm of the Pacific Ocean. 

Verrazzano wrote, “We…found there an isthmus one mile wide and about two hundred miles long, in which we could see the eastern sea from the ship, halfway between west and north. This is doubtless the one which goes around the tip of India, China, and Cathay. We sailed along this isthmus, hoping all the time to find some strait or real promontory where the land might end to the north, and we could reach those blessed shores of Cathay.”

For about a century what we today know as Pamlico Sound was called Mare da Verrazzano, or the Sea of Verrazzano, and was considered an arm of the Pacific Ocean! 

Michael Lok May, 1582

Michael Lok May, 1582, Detail

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a chapter from Philip Howard's book, Digging up Uncle Evans, about the 1837 wreck of the Steamboat Home, one of the most horrific wrecks ever on the North Carolina coast. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-1837-wreck-of-the-steamboat-home/.

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