Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Rusell L

In December of last year Blount Rumley, long-time visitor to Ocracoke Island, contributed this story about the historic Ocracoke to Washington (NC) freighters which included information about the "Russell L": Ocracoke to Washington Freighters.

Blount recently sent me this photo of the "Russell L":

The “Russell L” was a bugeye schooner, a type of sailboat developed in the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. Bugeye schooners had two masts with a triangular “leg-of-mutton” mainsail, foresail and jib. As with other schooners, the mainmast was shorter than the foremast.

Ocracoke Island native, Capt. Ike (Isaac Freeman O'Neal, 1885-1968), owned and operated the "Russell L" between Ocracoke and Washington, N.C. He was also skipper of the "Relief", and the "Dryden," as well as a partner in Garrish and O'Neal's Community Store. In addition to this he did considerable commercial fishing.

The photo above shows the "Russell L" ashore on Ocracoke Island's sound side after a storm in 1922 or 1923. According to an interview with Ike in 1961, the "Russell L" could sail to Washington from Ocracoke in 5 1/2 hours at 12 nautical miles per hour.

The photo above was taken by Dr. Rhodes Tayloe Gallagher. His dog “Doc” is in the foreground.

Blount explained that one of his great aunts was married to Dr. Gallagher, a Washington dentist. Dr. Gallagher would vacation often at Ocracoke in the 1920’s, sailing on the "Russell L." Sometimes he would take his dental equipment with him (including a treadle-powered drill) and work on the Ocracokers while he was there.

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