Ocracoke Island Journal

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An Occasional Journal of Daily Island Life.Philiphttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01572532603071469799noreply@blogger.comBlogger3617125
Updated: 1 day 21 hours ago

Ocracoke Oyster Wars

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 05:17
We have published our latest Ocracoke Newsletter.















This month's story is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Coral Spawning

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 05:21
My son and his family gave me a fascinating book as a Christmas present: Deep by James Nestor.  Deep is about "Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves."

I wasn't so sure I would find the book to my liking. I have absolutely no interest in freediving (underwater diving without any breathing apparatus such as scuba equipment), especially (and I repeat, especially) extreme freediving.  In June 2012, Herbert Nitsch, World Record Holder Freediver, dove to a depth of 253.2 meters (831 feet) on one breath of air! 831 feet is the height of a 100 story building!

However, because I live on an island in the Atlantic, I was intrigued by various facts about the ocean that I learned from the book. 

For example, Nestor writes that "Every year on the same day, at the same hour, usually within the same minute, corals of the same species, although separated by thousands of miles, will suddenly spawn in perfect synchronicity. The dates and times vary from year to year for reasons that only the coral knows."

Coral Found on Ocracoke Beach














With a little research on the Internet I discovered this beautiful 2 1/2 minute video of coral spawning in the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.oceanfutures.org/learning/kids-cove/creature-feature/coral-spawning. Another wonder of Nature!

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Bunny & Iggy

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 05:58
Two native islanders died early this month. Bernice (Bunny) Gaskins, 90, died at her home on Loop Road on New Years Day. Bunny was the daughter of the late Irving and Alma Bragg Forbes and the widow of John Gaskins. You can read her obituary on the Ocracoke Current: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/10382.

On January 2, Rhodes Ignatius (Iggy) Styron died. He was quite a colorful character. You can read his obituary here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/104729.

Born in 1944, Iggy used to spend hours on the Community Store porch, drinking Coca Colas, eating snacks, and greeting friends and visitors. As you might imagine, he often offered a unique perspective on life.

Photo by Lou Ann Homan


















Ignatius had a penchant for unusual attire -- sleeveless t-shirts; sunglasses; silver bracelets, earrings and rings; a soul patch; and spiked hair. His hair was often colored (he chose red, white, and blue for July 4th). Lou Ann and I frequently biked down to the store just to spend time with Iggy. He didn't say much, but even in his most taciturn moments, he was a pleasure to chat with.

In recent years Iggy gave up on his more outlandish appearance, and we only saw him occasionally when he drove his golf cart to the NPS docks to watch boats coming and going in the harbor.

Our most memorable visit with Iggy occurred at the Community Store. A gentleman whom I did not recognize stepped up to the porch, gazed right and left, and just stood there for a time without saying anything. Finally he addressed Iggy with a few words, then turned and walked away.

I asked Iggy if he knew the man.

"Yes," Iggy replied, "he comes to the island several times a year. He's really weird."

Farewell Bunny & Iggy! Island life is always impoverished when those of our own depart.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Marty Harris

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 06:12
About 25 years ago a young man from Statesville, NC wandered onto Ocracoke Island, and like so many others, remained here for a while. He secured housing, found work, and stayed long enough to befriend a number of locals.

Unlike most, he arrived on foot. Marty Harris had walked across North Carolina carrying about 75 pounds of equipment (including clothes, a sleeping bag, a small tent, and his camera). Along the way Marty documented his trek with photographs. It was always his goal to publish a book of his pictures.

Finally, after a quarter of a century, that book is a reality.
What The Road Passes By: A Photographic Collection of People and Places in North Carolina was published August 15, 2014. The photographs are stunning, and capture the essence of people and places from the mountains to the coast of the Tarheel state.

An article was recently published about Marty and his book in his hometown paper. You can read it here:
http://www.statesville.com/community/column-catching-up-with-photographer-marty-harris-questions/article_b0eb3be4-9757-11e4-9ed7-3b5fb62044fa.html.

What the Road Passes By is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. If you love North Carolina, you might want to get one for yourself or for friends.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Community Square Revitalization

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 05:27
The Ocracoke Foundation continues to support our community by initiating and implementing projects that focus on environmental stewardship, responsible economic development, and education.

One of the Foundation's major current projects is the Revitalization of the Community Square.

Willis' Store, ca. 1930 (Now Working Watermen's Exhibit)
Earl O'Neal Collection














Immediate interest is directed at the following areas:
  • Dock Repair and Expansion, 
  • Shoreline Restoration, 
  • Wastewater Improvements, 
  • Environmental Enhancements, 
  • Conservation Easements, and 
  • Establishment of a Community Fund
More information about Community Store Project Planning is available here:

The Ocracoke Foundation continues to work hard to protect and preserve vital aspects of the island's traditional culture. Donations to further their work are always appreciated. Follow this link to make a charitable contribution: http://www.ocracokefoundation.org/donate/.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Katharine

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 06:20
Katharine is an immature, female White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) that was first tagged in August, 2013 at Cape Cod. She has visited Pamlico Sound once before, and has been back recently...on January 9 & 10. Two days ago she was back in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Lookout. 

You can track Katharine here: http://www.ocearch.org/profile/katharine/.

You might also want to track any or all of the 100 sharks that have been tagged by OCEARCH, a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on great white sharks and other large apex predators.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Flooding on Portsmouth Island

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 05:41
On Wednesday, January 7, I published several photos that my grandson took on our trip to Portsmouth Island. A reader left this comment: "All the buildings are low on the ground. Does Portsmouth ever get tidal floods?"

I promised to publish a photo that Eakin took of tide lines beside the Post Office that document various storm tides between 1985 and 2013.  That's my son, Stefen, standing beside the markers. Click on the photo to enlarge the image. As you can see, tide from Hurricane Isabel reached as high as his chest. I believe every building on Portsmouth has been flooded several times.



















Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Ocracoke School

Mon, 01/12/2015 - 05:30
The first mention of a school on Ocracoke was in 1785 when school master Henry Garrish was hired to teach young Thomas Wahab.

By the early 1800s a community schoolhouse was built in the vicinity of the Ocracoke Coffee Company. A new schoolhouse was built in the same area in 1825. Sometime before the Civil War there were two community schools on the island. In addition, Sarah Owens Gaskill operated a private school near the lighthouse.

In the late 1800s "Captain Wilson" taught school at the Life Saving Station at Cedar Hammock (near Hatteras Inlet), and a Mr. Manson gave private lessons in the village.

In 1901 the Independent Order of Odd Fellows built a new lodge (it is today the center section of the Island Inn). They met on the second floor, and a "consolidated" public school was held on the ground floor. In 1917 a new schoolhouse was built at the location of the present-day building. 

1917 Schoolhouse












The current school house was built in 1971. It is the smallest pre-K - 12 public school in North Carolina.The photo below shows school secretary Lisa O'Neal Caswell outside during lunch break. Ocracoke School has no cafeteria, so children and staff either bring bag lunches, or go home for lunch.

Ocracoke School, 1971-Present















Ocracoke School has been an essential part of our community for many years. Cooperation between the school staff, parents, and other community members assures that island children consistently achieve lofty goals in academics and sports.

Click here for a recent article about the Ocracoke School. 

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

World War I U-Boats

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 05:53
German U-Boat activity off the coast of North Carolina during WWII is well documented. Fewer people are aware of U-Boat presence in Carolina waters in 1918.  Now is your chance to learn about this fascinating story.

The National Park Service Outer Banks Group has scheduled a presentation for January 12 as part of its citizen science program series. Know Your Park:World War I: U-Boats off the North Carolina Coast will feature Mr. Michael Lowrey, World War I historian and main contributor to the web site uboat.net, at the Ocracoke Community Center on Mon. Jan . 12 at 7 pm. (The program will be repeated at the Fessenden Center in Buxton on Tues. Jan. 13 at 7 pm.)

Both programs are free and will last approximately 1 hour. World War I touched the shores of Cape Hatteras, nearly 100 years ago, in 1918. Mr. Lowrey’s presentation will focus on archaeological and historical data of German U-Boat activity which threatened the North Carolina coast during World War I and will bring to life this little known, but all important, story of America’s maritime history.

The Know Your Park citizen science program series is designed to further connect the Outer Banks communities and residents with the rich natural world and cultural heritage of their neighboring national park sites; Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Garrett Fisher Photos

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 05:51
I recently discovered a wonderful blog with stunning aerial photographs of Ocracoke and the Outer Banks.














Garrett Fisher (“author, adventurer & economic innovator”) and his wife are spending the winter in Corolla (horse section), working on two books - one from the air about the entire Outer Banks, and another about the wild horses.

Fisher has already published a book with aerial photography of all 58 Colorado mountain peaks over 14,000 feet, and a separate one of the entire Upper Colorado River basin. He has also made aerial photos of the 40 peaks over 6,000' in the South, and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. These will be published in two separate books.

Click on the photo above, or here, http://garrettfisher.me/flight-nc-outer-banks-ocracoke-to-hatteras/,  to see more outstanding photos of Ocracoke, Hatteras, Portsmouth and the entire Outer Banks from the air.

Be sure to view all of Fisher’s Outer Banks posts. They not only document the spectacular beauty of these fragile barrier islands, but they illustrate the dynamic forces at work in the inlets. Take a look at his map to see the exact location where all of the photos were made.

Many thanks to Garrett Fisher for permission to use his photo of Ocracoke Village. Look for his Outer Banks book at a future date.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the murder of Willis Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Portsmouth

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 05:25
I try to make at least one trip to Portsmouth Village every winter. This year I took my son and family (Stefen, Snee, Zoe, Eakin, & Eliza Howard). It was cool (in the 50s) with a few clouds earlier in the day...just perfect for enjoying a bug-free visit. Eakin took these photos.























Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Back

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 05:42
If you saw yesterday's post explaining why the public is not permitted to climb the Ocracoke Lighthouse, you know that my brief time off from posting on this blog is over.

In addition to spending quality time with my family over the holidays, I had ample time to enjoy our beach; visit with friends; jump into the ocean on New Years Day; savor steamed, fresh oysters; and spend a day on Portsmouth Island. Below are a few photos.

Here we are, ready to take the "Polar" Plunge on January 1 (photo by Chrystal Canterbury from the Ocracoke Current; that's half of me on the extreme right!):















And here I am, refreshed and ready to meet the New Year:

Photo from the Ocracoke Current


from the Ocracoke Observer




























This is the time of the year for delicious, salty Pamlico Sound oysters.















And, it's the best time of year to visit Portsmouth Island Village. No mosquitoes! I will publish more photos of Portsmouth tomorrow.

Photo by Eakin Howard












It is good to be back posting on our Ocracoke Journal in the New Year!

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the murder of Willis Williams. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs

Lighthouse Question

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 05:44
Just the other day I received this comment on our last post for 2014:

"...in the 1950's the original steps in the Ocracoke Lighthouse were removed because of rotting. The present steps are also bad from what I gather because you can not climb the light. It seems that the Hatteras, Bodie, Oak island lights are always having something done to them. Why hasn't the Ocracoke light been given the same attention?...."

The condition of the spiral staircase is not the reason the general public is not allowed to climb the Ocracoke lighthouse.  However, there are several good reasons for very limited access to the lighthouse.
  • The metal spiral staircase, although sturdy and sound, is supported, not only by a central pillar, but also by horizontal steel rods anchored into the almost-two-century-old brick walls. Vibrations from hundreds of people climbing the stairs would surely weaken the connections and hasten damage to the historic structure.
Photo by E. Howard
  • Even if a new free-standing staircase were to be installed, because of the interior design of the lighthouse the final 8 feet of the climb can only be accomplished by means of a narrow, steep ladder that will accommodate only one person at a time. 
Photo by E. Howard
  • Access to the lantern room is simply a hole in the floor, just wide enough for one person to crawl through. The metal hatch, when closed, prevents anyone from falling through and plummeting to their death, but also prevents anyone else from entering the lantern room.
Photo by E. Howard
  • The fourth order Fresnel lens takes up most of the space in the lantern room, leaving only enough room for maybe six people to squeeze between the lens and the outside glass window panes. In such close quarters, damage could easily be done to the historic 1890 prisms surrounding the light.
  • The door opening onto the balcony is only about three feet high. To get outside it is necessary to get down on hands and knees and crawl through the narrow opening.

Photo by P. Howard
  • The railing around the balcony was not designed to hinder an adult crawling on all fours, or to keep toddlers or small children from slipping off the edge, and tumbling 75 feet to the ground. 
In a few words, the 1823 Ocracoke lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina, was designed for access by only one person, the lighthouse keeper, not a steady stream of the curious.

To address the second concern...why hasn't the Ocracoke lighthouse been given the same attention as other NC beacons?...it has. Extensive rehabilitation work was done in late 2009 and early 2010. Below are links to our posts about that.

 http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2009/12/lighthouse-renovation-fog.html

 http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2010/03/lighthouse-tour.html

I hope this clarifies questions any of our readers have about access to the Ocracoke Lighthouse. And I hope you enjoyed the photos of the interior of this historic structure. Be sure to check at the National Park Service Visitors Center when you are on the island. Even though climbing is not permitted, Lou Ann and other volunteers periodically open the ground floor of the lighthouse for visitors.
Categories: Outer Banks Blogs