A Travellerspoint blog

Pass Pea Island, Hover over Hatteras, Overnight in Ocracoke

Bridge over Oregon Inlet and a Free Ferry

semi-overcast 9 °C
View Summer, 9-11-2001 - and then the 2nd time down the ICW & Bermuda & 2004 Migrating by Mercedes on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Saturday December 4, 2004

The Road: North Carolina #12 is a total of 123 miles.
Starting from the South, the first segment starts at U.S. 70 near Atlantic, Carteret County. The pavement ends on Cedar Island after 13 miles, and the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry continues the trip. The pavement starts again (second part) where the ferry drops you off in Ocracoke, and ends 14 miles farther on at the northeast end of Ocracoke Island. The pavement starts for the third time in Hatteras and ends for good in Corolla (north of us here in Duck), Currituck County after 96 miles.

Today we are heading for Ocracoke. We will transit the third part of the road, and take the ferry to the northeast end of Ocracoke Island and continue down the second part of the road. Ocracoke (not to be confused with Occoquan south of D.C. or Onancock on the Eastern Shore) is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The entire island is owned by the US National Park Service, except for the village.

The weather was extremely calm today. There weren't even any waves on the beach. We got up and packed and I took a shower. My tooth isn't too painful, but my glasses are really irritating my nose on one side.
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We've gotten the car a bit more organized now so that the groceries are in the front and the Xmas gifts are in the back. I could NOT find my address book, and looked and into under everything where I thought it could be, and even looked places I didn't think I could be. Bob had everything down in the car and I was still looking. Then at the last minute I picked up my hat to leave, and there it was underneath.

We left the unit about 8:50 and checked out exactly at 9. I had filled out an evaluation form, but couldn't find it to turn in. I asked about copying the dental bill, and they said it would be $1 so I said I'd wait and do it later.
Road from Duck

Road from Duck


Outer Banks golf course

Outer Banks golf course


We drove down the islands for the last time.and got to Oregon Inlet about 9:45.
Highway 12 in the Outer Banks

Highway 12 in the Outer Banks


Bob has always wanted to go out this inlet on the way up the ICW. So I made Bob stop there so we could see the bridge across the inlet (which has a 65 foot high section) from the side.
Vegetation near Oregon Inlet

Vegetation near Oregon Inlet

Diving Reef sign

Diving Reef sign


This inlet has been a problem for a long time. My grandfather sent my grandmother a post card from here in 1908
Oregon Inlet Post card

Oregon Inlet Post card

Back of post card

Back of post card


Coast Guard Station at Oregon Inlet

Coast Guard Station at Oregon Inlet


Lighthouse and fishing boat

Lighthouse and fishing boat


When you get a chart for this inlet, the middle of the inlet is blank on it, and it just says - "use local knowledge". Which is why we have never tried it. It looked like there were a thousand sports fishing boats, and SUVs with boat trailers parked there.
597059102389259-Oregon_Inlet..of_America.jpgOregon Inlet fishing center

Oregon Inlet fishing center


63447642086678-Part_of_Oreg..die_Island.jpgMarina at Oregon Inlet

Marina at Oregon Inlet


The channel appears to be well marked. But when we drove over the bridge, we could see that while the channel had a lot of markers, and even though it was quite calm, there were still round patches of ocean with breakers. There were a lot of people out there fishing.
Sports fishers coming into Oregon Inlet

Sports fishers coming into Oregon Inlet

Sand bar with birds on the east side of the bridge

Sand bar with birds on the east side of the bridge


End of the bridge over to Pea Island

End of the bridge over to Pea Island


The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet


is according to NCDOT, deteriorating severely. When the 2.4-mile span linking the northern Outer Banks and Hatteras Island was opened to traffic in 1963, its life span was not intended to reach beyond the next century. In a 1993 report, engineers estimated that the bridge had about six more years of life left. The 2.5- mile bridge spans one of the most dynamic marine environments in the world. Other challenging issues involved the busy navigational channel within a national wildlife refuge, a fragile marine habitat and a popular national recreational area.

We finally figured out that the short vertical pieces of PVC pipe that people have mounted on their front bumpers are places to transport fishing rods.
Rod holders for a car

Rod holders for a car


I saw a car with a virtual curtain of rods - must have been 10 of them - on his front bumper - it's a wonder he could see to drive. My son-in-law the fisherman would love it here.

When we went to the aquarium on Roanoke Island, we saw that the Bodie Island lighthouse had originally been on Pea Island. This shows that short section of pictures of the old lighthouse there. After the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was build, Congress appropriated the funds for an additional lighthouse on Pea Island.
Pea Island

Pea Island


It was 10 years though before the site was purchased and construction began in 1847.The initial light, a 54-foot tower constructed on an unsupported brick foundation, began to lean within two years and was finally abandoned in 1859. It was rebuilt on a nearby site the same year. When the Civil War broke out the 80-foot tower was blown up by the Confederate troops who feared that the Union forces would use the lighthouse as an observation post.
Road flanked by sand dunes

Road flanked by sand dunes


I told Bob I wanted to stop at Pea Island Wildlife Reserve, but he overshot it and had to come back. You have to be careful if you leave the road because of soft sand shoulders. Pea Island was named for the wild pea vine which grows in there abundance. (Note - spelled with an A) The refuge was established in May 17, 1937. It has 5,834 acres of land, and 25,700 acres (Proclamation Boundary Waters) total and is located on the north end of Hatteras Island. The island with the refuge is approximately 13 miles long (north to south) and ranges from a quarter mile to 1 mile wide (from east to west).
Red flowers in the grass

Red flowers in the grass


This is one thing that we visited that was actually better at the time we were there because it was at the time of the fall migrations. The refuge is a haven for more than 265 species of birds such as Canada and snow geese, more than 25 species of duck, tundra swan, heron, egret, tern, and many other birds that pass through during the migrations.
Wildlife You May See Sign in the visitor's center

Wildlife You May See Sign in the visitor's center


We went into the visitor's center and I talked to the ranger.
Sign in the visitor's center

Sign in the visitor's center


She gave us a stamp for Pea Island and for the Alligator River too, which we don't really deserve because we've only skirted the edges on our boat. I also got a map of that reserve. You see signs about Charles Kuralt in various places such as the wildlife refuges and the Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor's Center.

The sign here says: The Charles Kuralt Trail has been established to help people enjoy these wildlands and to recognize the broadcast journalist who shared the delights and wonders of out-of-the-way places like the dark backwater rivers that flow into estuarine sounds contained by the Outer Banks. You'll find more information at a red-roofed kiosk at each stop along the Kuralt trail.
Closeup of the Pea Island Kuralt Trail sign

Closeup of the Pea Island Kuralt Trail sign


This sign says:"This dike system, along with the dunes, was constructed in the late 1930s and early 1940s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Wax myrtles and live oaks help to stabilize the system and provide excellent songbird habitat.
Dike System Sign

Dike System Sign



Pond in the winter

Pond in the winter


Birds (tricolored heron and ducks)

Birds (tricolored heron and ducks)


Tricolored heron at Pea Island

Tricolored heron at Pea Island


We walked out along the short North Pond trail,
Marshes

Marshes


Bird on a sign from North Pond Wildlife Trail

Bird on a sign from North Pond Wildlife Trail


and we could see many ducks and swans and even some wading birds out there. There were binoculars every so often along the trail. It was a 'handicapped accessible' trail which meant not only was it a smooth surface, but some of the binoculars were wheelchair height. It was a bit cold, so we didn't walk all the way out. On the way back we met a group with a guide who was explaining to them that they were seeing Lesser Scaups
Bird watching group

Bird watching group


and how to tell the difference by the wing feathers.
Cape Hatteras Seashore town from the highway

Cape Hatteras Seashore town from the highway

on the Outer  Banks

on the Outer Banks


We drove on through Rodanthe but missed the Life Saving Station there, and through Waves and Salvo. Then there was a long skinny section where we could see water on both sides of the road (Hurricane Isabel cut the road in about three places along here - washed it completely out and made three new inlets). We got to Avon, and then a short while later we could see the Hatteras lighthouse. This is where the USS Monitor was wrecked.
Cape Hatteras Light

Cape Hatteras Light


The black and white spiral makes Cape Hatteras one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the US, and the 208 feet height makes it also the tallest in the United States. The light can be seen for 20 miles, warning ships of Diamond Shoals (the graveyard of the Atlantic) which is a twelve-mile (12) long sandbar just offshore.
Diamond Shoals Lightship

Diamond Shoals Lightship


Diamond Shoals is the meeting place of two great ocean currents: the cold Labrador and the warm Northbound Gulf Stream. Where they collide, it creates fog and ever changing sandbars just beneath the water surface.The present lighthouse was built like the light at Cape Lookout and had a first-order Fresnel lens to magnify a small oil wick flame. It was replaced by a rotating beacon--a double affair with 1000-watt lamps in each beacon. Today, the beacon is automated, but at the time it was built, the keeper had to wind weights suspended by heavy cables in order to rotate the thousand-prism lens. In good visibility, it can be seen 51 miles at sea and 115 miles in the air. The octagonal base of brick and granite, measures twenty-four (24) feet by fourty-five (45) feet six inches. The black and white barber-pole paint, or "candystriping" was added in 1873 to make the lighthouse more distinctive during the day.
Hatteras Light National Historic Landmark markers

Hatteras Light National Historic Landmark markers


There is another similarly painted lighthouse in Florida ( St. Augustine - shorter and with a red lantern), but I guess they figured that if you didn't even know whether you were in NC or FL, you were in such sorry shape that there wasn't much hope for you. The lighthouse isn't available for climbing this time of year.
Cape Hatteras Light postcard

Cape Hatteras Light postcard


I have a postcard from my grandfather - he climbed it back in 1908. He wrote my grandmother, "Was up to the top of this, the finest light house in America, lens cost $15000." In 1908, postcards were my grandfather's Tweets
back of the postcard

back of the postcard


As early as the 1920s, erosion became a major problem to the new lighthouse. In the summer of 1999, the lighthouse was moved 2899.57 feet from its original location.
Sign board for visitor's center

Sign board for visitor's center

Informational sign

Informational sign


We stopped at the lighthouse and got another stamp for the passport at the visitor's center. They had a wall with pictures of lighthouses,
Wall of lighthouse photos

Wall of lighthouse photos


but the only ones they had of Maryland were Hooper Strait, 7 foot Knoll and Cove Point. They gave me the address so I could send them some more.
Marker in the sidewalk at Hatteras Lighthouse

Marker in the sidewalk at Hatteras Lighthouse

Top of lighthouse

Top of lighthouse


The "Double Keeper's Quarters" is used to house the "Museum of the Sea" and the Buxton Visitor Center. When they moved this lighthouse a couple of years ago, they moved the keeper's houses too. The museum had displays about the move.
Bob walking over to the museum

Bob walking over to the museum

display about the sinking of the Monitor as it was being towed to Beaufort

display about the sinking of the Monitor as it was being towed to Beaufort

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The smaller house had a glass skylight which I doubted could be original, but the ranger said they had pictures of it from the 1890s with the skylight there.
Skylight

Skylight

Hatteras Lighthouse from the Keeper's House

Hatteras Lighthouse from the Keeper's House


Then we drove down to Hatteras Village looking for a place to eat as by now it was 11:22 and I was getting hungry. The lady at the visitor's center told me several places that might be open, but none of them were.
Boatyard from the road

Boatyard from the road


We went whistling through Frisco and there was nothing open there.
Water Tower from the car

Water Tower from the car


Bob took the car and got in line for the ferry to Ocracoke which leaves on the hour in the winter. The ferry docks are at Hatteras Island's southernmost tip. Ferry transportation began in the mid-1920's when Captain J.B. (Toby) Tillett established tug and barge service across Oregon Inlet along North Carolina's Outer Banks. Now the ferries are under the NCDOT, and the one from Hatteras to Ocracoke is free.

Ocracoke (pronounced OHK-ruh-coke) is in Hyde County and is one of the barrier islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the pirate Blackbeard is known to have once hung out. The island is noted for fishing and birdwatching. The first European visitor was probably Sir Walter Raleigh's 1585 colony in their flagship, "Tiger" which ran aground on a sand bar in Ocracoke Inlet and was forced to land on the island for repairs. The name Ocracoke is undoubtedly Indian in origin. It was shown on the earliest maps as "Woccocon". In 1715, the name had become Ococcock and soon after shown on maps as Ocracoke.

I walked over to the deli and got a submarine sandwich and the daily special which was an open faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans. Both of them were $5.95. I took them back to the car, and Bob said they were both too much food, so he ate half the sub and I ate the daily special which I had really bought for him.

There was a car in line in front of us with a couple of dogs in it, and there was also a Florida car. We all loaded on to the ferry for the trip.
Local ferry passengers

Local ferry passengers


I got out of the car and talked to the lady from Florida who was from Vero Beach. She said they were taking the last ferry from Ocracoke today. You can only get to Ocracoke by plane or by boat.
Leaving Hatteras by ferry

Leaving Hatteras by ferry

Hatteras from the ferry

Hatteras from the ferry

Diagram of ferry route

Diagram of ferry route

Front of the ferry

Front of the ferry


I took some photos of the gulls which circled the ferry.
Seagulls from the ferry

Seagulls from the ferry


Bridge (Wheelhouse) of the Hatteras Ferry from the side

Bridge (Wheelhouse) of the Hatteras Ferry from the side

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After the 40 minute trip we landed in Ocracoke.
Welcome to Ocracoke Sign

Welcome to Ocracoke Sign


The single highway which was built in 1957 goes from the Hatteras ferry dock at the north end of the island to the Swans Quarter/Cedar Island ferry dock at the south end.
Highway 12 at the north end of Ocracoke

Highway 12 at the north end of Ocracoke


Some of the other roads on the island are not paved - they are sand just like some Caribbean islands.
We stopped at the Pony Pens
2123151-Pony_in_the_Pen_Ocracoke.jpg232842262347144-Banker_ponie..die_Island.jpgBanker ponies doze in the December sun

Banker ponies doze in the December sun


The Wild Bankers of OcracokeLegend has it that the "Banker" horses of Ocracoke were left here by shipwrecked explorers in the 16th or 17th century. European ships commonly carried livestock to the New World. If a ship ran aground near the coast, animals were thrown overboard to lighten the load so that the ship could be re-floated. The lifestock were often left behind when the ship again set sail. Sir Richard Grenville's ship TIGER ran aground at Ocracoke in 1565. There is speculation that he may have unloaded Spanish mustangs on the island. Evidence also exists of a failed Spanish colony further south along the Carolina coast in 1526. Their horses, if abandoned, may have slowly spread north to Ocracoke
Information sheet on Ocracoke's Favorite Residents

Information sheet on Ocracoke's Favorite Residents


Banker horses have been documented on Ocracoke since the first European settlers came to stay in the 1730's. There have been as many as 300 horses on Ocracoke. They have played a major role in the island's history, serving residents as beasts of burden, at work and at play, in beach rides and races. Genetic research is being conducted to establish the herd's genealogical lineage for future management of the breeding program. The size of the herd remains stable averaging 25 to 30 in number

Spring Surprise for NPS (April 2004)
Ocracoke Observer article about pony foal
On Tuesday morning, March 9th, NPS volunteer Kimberly Emery found a newborn colt. The male pony was born to Oops and Santiago. Ranger Bill Caswell confirmed that this was unexpected. "We put Oops and Santiago together for 2 years and there was no evidence of mating. We separated them before the hurricane and they've been separate ever since." Caswell said. While Oops and Santiago spent time together, test results have never showed that Oops had been impregnated. The gestation period for horses is around 11 months, so you can estimate that the new pony's conception was last April. This new addition brings the Ocracoke Pony count back to 25 after losing a gelded male during Hurricane Isabel. The new pony was named Lawton Howard, in memory and honor of Mr. Lawton Howard
Ocracoke Observer article about pony foal

Ocracoke Observer article about pony foal


When Mr. Howard passed away, money from his memorial fund was donated to the National Park Service to help maintain the ponies. A year later the NPS started the Adopt-A-Pony program.
Adopt a Pony flyer

Adopt a Pony flyer


Adopt A Pony: The Ocracoke Ponies are some of the island's most beloved residents. Although their exact origins are unknown, legends have them as survivors of shipwrecked European explorers in the 16th Century. Physically the Ocracoke Ponies are different from other horses. They have a different number of vertebrae and ribs than other horses. They also have a distinct shape, posture, color, size and weight that set them apart from other breeds. The ponies roamed free on the island until they were penned in 1959 to prevent overgrazing and to protect them from faster moving traffic on the newly paved highway. The national Park service has cared for them since the early 1960's.
Sign about Blackbeard

Sign about Blackbeard


Ocracoke Inlet was one of Blackbeard’s hideouts, Blackbeard is more influential in Ocracoke today than he was in the early 1700s. Even though his reign of terror lasted only 18 months, his name fills the town's merchant tills. Blackbeard's Lodge welcomes guests. The Jolly Roger bar keeps them entertained.
Jolly Roger from the street

Jolly Roger from the street

Pirate's Chest offseason

Pirate's Chest offseason


Teach's Hole Blackbeard Exhibit & Pirate Specialty Shop and the Pirate's Chest gift shop keeps them appropriately outfitted with plastic cutlasses, eye patches, and pirate flags. At Silver Lake, the Windfall flies the Jolly Roger on its scenic tours by boat. Kayak tours pass by Teach's Hole -- Blackbeard's favorite anchorage hideaway -- and guides are quick to recount Blackbeard's most famous battle here.

Blackbeard had paid off the governor of NC, so the merchants of NC had to go to the Governor of Virginia Alexander Spottswood for help. The Royal Navy had no very good record with Blackbeard. His ships were heavily armed and he had once forced a heavily-armed British man-of-war into retreat. So Spottswood offered to pay a handsome reward for Blackbeard.

This sign abbreviates the battle to a few sentences. It says:
Lt. Robert Maynard_____________Of the Royal Navy. Sent by Gov. Spotswood of Virginia. In the sloop "Ranger" killed the pirate Blackbeard off shore 1718.

The beaches of Ocracoke Island have been named #10 on the 1999 list compiled by Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University coastal geologist who rates beaches nationwide. The National Park Service has preserved over 5,000 acres on the Island, including 16 miles of beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Foot traffic across the dunes is discouraged because it tends to kill the vegetation holding onto the sand. Although the beach and sound can be accessed by foot, there are also designated four-wheeled drive ramps to reach them. Closed sections are well marked.
Boardwalk across the dunes - Ocracoke

Boardwalk across the dunes - Ocracoke


Because we were traveling so late in the season, many of the hotels and other accommodations were closed. I called the Bluff Shoal Motel from the AAA book, and they were going to be closed after Thanksgiving to do some renovations (although they are usually open). So we are staying at the Pony Island Motel & Cottages.
Pony Statue out front of the hotel - Ocracoke

Pony Statue out front of the hotel - Ocracoke


We got there about one o'clock.The office was closed, but there was a sign on the door that said "If you have a reservation, look on the other door". I walked around to the other door and it said, "Robert Beasley you are in Room 101 and the key is in the door". There was another notice for someone named Tim

So we went to room 101, and brought the overnight bags in, and Bob put his plant out in the sun. After an interval, we drove around sightseeing. The town is laid out with Old World irregularity along sandy streets overhung with moss-covered oaks and yaupon (a species of holly). Established as a port in 1715, Ocracoke grew in importance until 1787, when 697 vessels reached North Carolina through Ocracoke Inlet. The village of Ocracoke, on the southern sound side, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. It includes the 1823 Ocracoke Lighthouse as well as several historic commercial building and over 100 homes. There is a walking tour of Ocracoke (or you can ride a bike around).

  • 1 National Park Service Visitor Center

Old Cistern with National Park sign

Old Cistern with National Park sign


National Park Building

National Park Building


This is a good place to start a walking tour of the village. It is an authoritative information source for the island. There are maps, brochures, books and more. Enjoy the view from the deck next to the ferry terminal and get your bearings. Silver Lake lies before you--the focal point of the village. The white, circular cistern on the right of the picture is all that remains of a 500-man U. S. Navy base built here in 1942 to aid in the search for German U-boats during World War II
Cistern of  WW II Navy base

Cistern of WW II Navy base


Ocracoke Island: Its People,the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Base During World War II by Earl William O'Neal, Jr.

"A mere six weeks after Pearl Harbor, U.S. involvement in the Second World War became a terrible reality to natives of North Carolina's Outer Banks with the sinking of the tanker Allan Jackson just 60 miles of Cape Hatteras. The thick black smoke which streamed skyward from the burning ship on January 18, 1942, marked the end of innocence for the islanders, and in the ensuing months they observed firsthand the hardships, human toll, and devastating effects of the war effort along the Atlantic seaboard."

O'Neal's book begins with the Navy's appropriation of land from the islanders, to the construction and commissioning of the Navy Section Base on Ocracoke's harbor on October 9, 1942. On January 16, 1944 it was converted to an Amphibious Training Base, and in 1945 it was setup as a Combat Information Center. In 1946 the Base was closed.

  • 2 Ocracoke Museum and Visitor's Center:

David Williams House (circa 1900)

David Williams House (circa 1900)


I only got to see this from the outside, because it was too late in the season for it to be open. The pictures was taken from the car and you can see the Ocracoke water tower behind it. The museum is in the David Williams house. In 1989, the house was moved to its present location on National Park Service property to prevent its demolition and has been restored by the Ocracoke Preservation Society. It opened its doors to the public in 1990. The house dates back to 1900. Williams was the first captain of the Coast Guard Life-Saving Station of Ocracoke. The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The ground floor rooms have been converted to the museum which contains photos and artifacts of island lifestyles and history.. The second floor contains a research library and administrative offices. In midsummer, there are talks about local historic subjects on the back porch

  • 3 British Sailor's Cemetery:

Bob in the English cemetery

Bob in the English cemetery


The sign at the cemetery entrance says: Hyde County's Talking Historical Places
~~~~~~
Tune Car Radio To 1590 AM for British Cemetery Information

There is an arrow pointing to the cemetery on the trash can enclosure which says: "Ocracoke Preservation Society."
Entrance sign

Entrance sign

From January to July 1942, German U-boats sank 397 ships filled with supplies in the west Atlantic. Although Prime Minister Winston Churchill loaned us 24 antisubmarine boats in April 1942, nevertheless, one of them, the 170 ft converted trawler "HMS Bedfordshire" was torpedoed by a German UBoat on May 11, 1942 and sunk with all hands. Four bodies were washed ashore, but only Lt Cunningham and Stanley Craig could be identified. Twenty-eight year old Lieutenant Cunningham died just months before his son was born.
Sign at the cemetery

Sign at the cemetery


The islanders and a Methodist lay preacher buried all four together in a small plot of land which was given by Mrs. Alice Wahab Williams near the Williams family graveyard. Markers were made by the T.A. Loving Construction Co., then building the nearby Navy base.
Graves of the four men

Graves of the four men


The four grave markers, which were originally made of concrete.
Two of the granite memorial crosses

Two of the granite memorial crosses


Memorial cross for<br />Stanley R. Craig,<br />Royal Navy<br />Body found<br />May 14, 1942

Memorial cross for
Stanley R. Craig,
Royal Navy
Body found
May 14, 1942


Memorial cross for Lt. Thomas Cunningham<br />Royal Navy<br />Body Found<br />May 14, 1942

Memorial cross for Lt. Thomas Cunningham
Royal Navy
Body Found
May 14, 1942


Memorial cross for Unknown Sailor.<br />1939-1942

Memorial cross for Unknown Sailor.
1939-1942


A year later, at Mrs. Cunningham's request, a Catholic service was held by the Navy chaplain, then stationed at Ocracoke. In 1952, the land where the bodies were buried was given to the British Government - "this foreign field that is forever England,".
A foreign Field that is forever England

A foreign Field that is forever England


This is a small plaque which says:
If I should die think only this of me
That there's some corner of a foreign
Field that is forever England
Rupert Brooke
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION Sign

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION Sign


The Commission, established by Royal Charter in 1917, is maintained by the governments of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom to mark and maintain the war graves of these countries no matter where they lie. The Commission's commitment extends to some 150 countries around the world, including those Commonwealth war burials located in almost 500 cemeteries in the United States of America. The Commission provided the granite headstones which now mark the graves at Buxton and Ocracoke. Periodically, Commission representatives proudly visit the sites to ensure headstone and burial maintenance. This site is maintained in cooperation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

"This morning's ceremony at the British Cemetery was well attended and, as always, moving and memorable. The British Union Jack fluttered in the breeze. For the first time a representative of the Cunningham family was in attendance. The cemetery and surrounding grounds were neat and well-kept, thanks to the Ocracoke Coast Guard personnel. A new black granite marker engraved with a likeness of the "Bedfordshire" and listing all of the crew members has been placed at the site by Ocracoke residents and friends."

On Friday the 13th 2005- Village Craftsmen Ocracoke Journal reported the annual May remembrance ceremony - attended each year by representatives of the Navy and British Embassy - a 21 gun salute is fired. The local kindergarten class walked down to observe the ceremony, too.

Resuming the walking tour

  • 4 The first post office where mail was tossed from the mailboat right onto the dock. Turn Left on

Walking tour map

Walking tour map

  • 5 Howard St, a sandy lane. Before the highway all Ocracoke looked like this. Peaceful shade, older homes, family cemeteries.

Town street

Town street

  • 6 The United Methodist Church is on the Left at School Rd; Islander James B. Gaskill's CARIBSEA was torpedoed east of Cape Lookout in 1942. His family learned of his death when the CARIBSEA nameplate and Gaskill's engineering license washed ashore on Ocracoke. The altar cross of this church was carved from salvage wood of the CARIBSEA.
  • 7 NC's smallest school, with grades K-12, is beyond the church. Take the path L of the school and follow the narrow boardwalk to the Back Rd. Turn R and walk past the schoolyard to the
  • 8 Fire Hall. Built in 1966, it is run entirely by donations and volunteers. The library behind the Fire Hall contains 3,000 books. As the Back Rd curves toward NC Hwy. 12,
  • 9 Blackbeard's Lodge is on the R. Built in 1930, it served as a theater and skating rink before becoming an inn. R at NC Hwy. 12 and walk to Lighthouse Rd. (Watch for traffic and cross the highway.) The
  • 10 Island Inn, with its white, three-tiered porch, is on the L. Built in 1901, it has served as a meeting lodge, residence, naval officer's quarters, and is now a private inn.

Anchorage Inn Sign

Anchorage Inn Sign


Fort Ocracoke Marker

Fort Ocracoke Marker

"The remnants of Fort Ocracoke are submerged in Ocracoke Inlet 2 miles to the west southwest toward Portsmouth Island, the last of possibly four forts on Beacon Island. The mostly earthen Fort Ocracoke was constructed by mainland Confederate volunteers beginning on May 20, 1861, the day North Carolina seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy.

"After Union victories on Hatteras Island in August 1861, the confederates partly destroyed the fort and abandoned it without a fight. Mainland Union froces completed the destruction in September 1861. Beacon Island was consumed by the waters of Ocracoke Inlet in the first half of the 20th century. The fort's remains were discovered and identified by members of surface interval diving co. in August 1998, acting on a tip from the Ocracoke Charter Boat Captain Donald Austin."

A description of the fort is in a report made by Lieutenant Maxwell of the US Steamer PAWNEE

..[the fort] is octagonal in shape, contains four shell rooms, about twenty five feet square, and in the center a large Bomb-proof, one hundred feet square, with the magazine within it. Directly above the magazine, on each side, were four large tanks containing water.

The fort had been constructed with great care, of sand in barrels covered with earth and turf. The inner framing of the bomb-proof was built of heavy pine timbers. There were platforms for twenty guns... The gun carriages had been all burned. There were eighteen guns in the fort—namely, four eight inch navy sell guns, and fourteen long thirty-two pounders. ... I found one hundred and fifty barrels also, many of them filled with water. There being no water in the fort, they had brought it from Washington and Newberry (New Bern)....

After destroying the guns, I collected all the lumber, barrels and wheelbarrows, and placed them in and about the bomb-proof, set fire to the pile and entirely destroyed it...

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES Y. MAXWELL Lt USN

  • 11 Ocracoke Lighthouse

A Light for Ocracoke Inlet
A Light for Ocracoke Inlet

A Light for Ocracoke Inlet


This sign has a line drawing of the island with the location of the lighthouse on it. You can see Silver Lake above it.
"The first lighthouse at Ocracoke Inlet was the 1798 Shellcastle Rock lighthouse located on an island in the inlet. In such a location -- defenseless against storms, tides, and winds -- the lighthouse was often inoperative when needed most. Thus in 1823, it was replaced by this light, the Nation's second oldest still in use. The non-rotating light is 75 feet above sea level and can be seen a full 260 degrees to a distance of fourteen miles. The walls are five feet thick at the base and are made of brick with a mortar surface. The lighthouse is owned and maintained by the United States Coast Guard and is closed to the public."
Ocracoke Lighthouse (It's not crooked - I am)

Ocracoke Lighthouse (It's not crooked - I am)


Ocracoke Light Station information

Ocracoke Light Station information


Ocracoke Lighthouse Facts
Height: 77 feet 5 inches
Stairs: 86
Light Pattern: Fixed light
Beam Range: 14 miles
Ownership: Transferred from the US Coast Guard to the National Park Service in 1999.
Lighthouse

Lighthouse


The two story structure to the right originally housed the lighthouse keeper and his family. Today it is a private residence.
Lighthouse keeper's house

Lighthouse keeper's house


The small block building formerly provided storage for lamp fuel. Whale oil, porpoise oil and kerosene have all served as fuel for the light. Today the light is electric and this building houses an auxiliary generator.
Oil/Generator building

Oil/Generator building


"...Ocracoke Inlet was the only reasonably navigable waterway for ships accessing inland ports such as Elizabeth City, New Bern and Edenton. Ocracoke Village, then known as Pilot Town, developed as a result of the inlet's use. Pilots hired to steer ships safely through the shifting channels to mainland ports settle the village in the 1730s.

...In 1794, construction began on Shell Castle Island, a 25 acre, shell-covered island located between Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island to the south. This site was adjacent to the deepest inlet channel between shallow Pamlico Sound and the ocean. The wooden, pyramid-shaped tower was completed four years later. Nearby on the island, a small light keeper's house was built along with several cargo wharves, gristmills, houses, and other facilities. The lighthouse, a great blessing to mariners, was obsolete in less than 30 years due to migration of the main channel. By 1818, the channel had shifted nearly a mile away. That same year, both the lighthouse and keeper's house were destroyed by lightening

In 1822, for a charge of $50, the federal government purchased two acres at the south end of Ocracoke Island as the site for a new lighthouse. Constructed by Massachusett's builder Noah Porter and finished in 1823, the tower still stands today. Total cost including the one story, one bedroom light keeper's house was $11,359, far below the $20,000 budgeted. Because it is the shortest lighthouse on the North Carolina Coast it can be only be seen for 14 miles. The lantern room is a bit off-center and one side of the tower is steeper than the other though architectural plans show all details in line
Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse


It has survived numerous hurricanes including the Hurricane of 1944. This hurricane flooded the entire island - some homes had 25-30 inches in them. Water lapped against the doorstep of the lighthouse and was seven inches deep in the keeper's house. Villagers, sometimes arriving by boat which navigated inundated roadways, waited out the storm in the keeper's house.
Ocracoke Lighthouse

Ocracoke Lighthouse


"...The exterior's solid white coloration serves as its identifying mark to mariners by day. The original whitewash "recipe" called for blending lime, salt, spanish whiting, rice, glue and boiling water. The mixture was applied while still hot.
Looking up at the top of the lighthouse

Looking up at the top of the lighthouse


"...Through federal grants, the National Park Service conducted a structural analysis of the lighthouse. Preservation work was then performed on the tower's windows door and brick walls."

  • 12 Albert Styron's Store, built in 1920 and recently refurbished. Turn Left onto Corkey's Rd. On your L 1/8 mile, you will pass what was once
  • 13 Corkey's, another old store where locals gathered for dances. Sam Jones' unique architectural style is seen again in "Whittler's Cottage" on the waterfront Turn Right and go 30 yds to the
  • 14 "Castle". This rambling structure with its green roof, many gables, and cedar-shake siding was built by Sam Jones and was the first Ocracoke high-rise. Jones built the Castle for his vacationing employees. The Castle and Berkley Center are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Street in front of MacNally's Raw Bar and Grille (closed in December)

Street in front of MacNally's Raw Bar and Grille (closed in December)

Pony Island Restaurant (Closed in December)

Pony Island Restaurant (Closed in December)


When we got back to the motel (the Pony Island Motel), the office was open and the lady had a little boy with her, who ran and hid behind his mom when we came in. We checked in. The pool has been drained and it looks like they are going to put up a new pool deck out of that recycled plastic. They have the same thing at the Pony Pens, but Bob said they've installed it upside down so that the grooves to keep it from being slippery on the bottom instead of the top.

The lady had four restaurants that would be open and she had menus for them. Howard's Pub was one which we had passed on the way in, Pelican Cove was another and there was The Flying Melon Cafe which was across the street.
Flying Melon Cafe and biker from car

Flying Melon Cafe and biker from car


Flying Melon Cafe Brunch and dinner. Southern Regional cuisine and our favorites from around the world. Two experienced and talented cooks have combined forces to open The Flying Melon, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in a comfortable, casual dining room.

But their menus all looked like they were more upscale places with entrees about $20 and up, so we decided to go to Jason's which is apparently a pizza place. I thought it was 6 o'clock but my computer was still on Bermuda time, so it was only 5. So we set off to eat at 5:30 which was a bit early.
Jason's sign at night

Jason's sign at night

My quesidillas

My quesidillas


We had a nice meal. I had the soup of the day (tomato cheddar) and quesidillas (an appetizer), and Bob had spaghetti and meatballs. Then we both had dessert - Bob had the brownie and ice cream and I had lemon cake. The bill was under $35 before tip.

A lot of locals came in to eat and to pick up pizza. Everyone knew each other. Jason's Restaurant has a lot of loyal local customers because it serves good, reasonably priced food in a casual atmosphere. In the summer, you can dine outside on the spacious screened porch or hang out at the bar and watch the chefs at work while at this unique restaurant
Tradewinds Bait and Tackle at night

Tradewinds Bait and Tackle at night


Tradewinds is an Official Weighing Station.

December 5, 2004- Sunday
Bob made us a cup of tea, and we got everything loaded back into the car and drove over to the ferry.
Bob walking over to the office to check out

Bob walking over to the office to check out


Note: Reservations are only offered (and are necessary especially in season) on the Cedar Island – Ocracoke and Swan Quarter – Ocracoke Routes.
--You must claim your reservation at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Failure to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure will mean that your reservation will be cancelled.
-- Reservations may be made up to one year in advance of date of departure.
--Reservations cannot be made via E-mail or online. Reservations must be made by calling the ferry terminal from which you would like to depart. (I made ours on the day that we visited Bodie Lighthouse)

We told her our name and that we had a reservation for the 10 o'clock ferry to Cedar Island. This ferry is not free like the other ones we have ridden so far the cost of this ferry is $15 (the ride takes 2 and a quarter hours).
Ferry ticket

Ferry ticket


Bob handed the lady in the booth a $50 bill, and she really inspected it before she gave him his change - At 9 am, we were first in line.
Cars outside Ship's Store

Cars outside Ship's Store


I ate the second half of the submarine sandwich - Bob said he didn't want any. I had intended to go and get breakfast from the Texaco station, but Bob was too impatient to wait for that - he wanted to get in line - it's like that commercial where the lady has her chauffeur drive her to the store with the sale the night before.
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The 1938 compound of the U.S.Coast Guard now belongs to the State of North Carolina and they have plans to use it for teacher education among other uses.
NCAA center for advancement of teachers

NCAA center for advancement of teachers

First ferry of the day at the dock

First ferry of the day at the dock


The ferry was there in the slip, and suddenly they gave 4 blasts on the horn. Bob asked 'What was that?' Then the loudspeaker came on and said it was a drill on Man Overboard and that the passengers should stay to the side and let the crew do their jobs. (There were no passengers on board). They started lowering the inflatable from the top deck.
Abandon 1

Abandon 1

abandon 2

abandon 2

abandon 3

abandon 3


Eventually I went over and took some pictures of them.
Ferry with MOB drill

Ferry with MOB drill

Ferry

Ferry


I also walked around the boat slips on that side of the harbor and found they were part of a state operated marina. These boat docks located on Silver Lake near the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Ocracoke Visitor's Center are open year round. There are public restrooms at the visitor's center but the docks have no showers. Originally known as Cockle Creek, Silver Lake Harbor was established in 1931. The creek was dredged and a harbor and marina were constructed. This dredging made it possible for large vessels to come into dock. The controlling depth is 10 feet and there is no appreciable tide.
List of rules for the marina and a map

List of rules for the marina and a map


List on the left:
1) Quiet hours are from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am
3) Prohibited on Docks:
a) Bicycling
b) Skateboarding
c) Rollerblading/Skating
d) Swimming
e) Fishing
f) Fireworks of any type
g) Metal Detectors
h) Any commercial activity without a Commercial Use Permit.
5) Docks must be kept free of any and all personal property
6) Pets must be kept on leash at all times, except when on your own vessel
7) No more than two (2) vessels can be rafted together; and all vessels rafted together will register and pay their individual dockage and serice fees.
8) If you plan to take your vessel out of the day, then you must hand an "occupied" sign in your space; these signs are available at the Dockmaster's kiosk or at the Visitor's Center.
(rates are listed in the Sports Tip)
Shores of Silver Lake

Shores of Silver Lake


12) Safe Haven
The National Park Service docks on Silver Lake will be a "Safe Haven" with NO dockage fees being charged to any vessel during the time of "Gale Warnings for the waters up to 20 miles offshore". These Gale Warnings must be for the waters immediately adjacent to Ocracoke Island and the coastal waters up to 20 miles offshore of Ocracoke for this "Safe Haven" policy to be in effect. The determination of "Gale Warnings" will be made by the U.S. Weather Service as broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio channel KIG 77 in Newport, NC. All vessels still must register and pay any electric fees during "Gale Warnings".
Park Service Docks

Park Service Docks


Winter rates are 40 cents a foot with a max of $32. But in the winter there's no water or electric. Water I understand, but I don't know why the electrons would have a problem with freezing.

The somewhat gull dropping spotted sign on top of the electrical connection for slip number 13 says:
Marina electric hookup with sign

Marina electric hookup with sign


Fees Collected Daily

Boaters must register
14 Day Limit Enforced
May 15-Sept. 15
13

We were there in December which was off-season. It was quite calm and peaceful. It seems hard to picture the village with traffic jams and that the docks would be so busy that a limit would have to be imposed on the length of the stay. Both because I don't know how anyone would get vacation for that long, and because it would be hard to stay for that long without a shower or bathroom on a small boat.
Loading onto the ferry

Loading onto the ferry


By 10, there were about 15 cars in line, one pulling a pop-up tent camper and one with a sports fishing boat.
Looking out of the ferry 'windows' after loading

Looking out of the ferry 'windows' after loading

Cars lined up on the ferry

Cars lined up on the ferry

Rod storage racks

Rod storage racks

large_3165.jpglarge_3132.jpg
I was able to get some pictures of the fishing rod storage things we noticed yesterday.
Looking back at the ferry docks

Looking back at the ferry docks


Anchorage Inn and Marina

Anchorage Inn and Marina

Ferry wake through the crash net

Ferry wake through the crash net


Taken from the ferry

Taken from the ferry

Aid to Navigation backlighted

Aid to Navigation backlighted


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I told Bob that he'd have to get out of the car this time, so he got out and went up into the visitor's lounge, which was very nice. They have coin operated video games, coin operated binoculars, tables and seats
large_3143.jpglarge_3155.jpg
and vending machines for snacks. They had the navigational software on two TVs up there and we could see the little green boat on the screen that represented us traveling out the channel. We can't go directly over to Cedar Island because of shoals. Even though it was extremely calm, there were areas of breakers out in the middle of the water which indicated shallow spots, and we could see the water depths for those places on the charts.
TV with navigational software

TV with navigational software


3150

3150

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Posted by greatgrandmaR 14:36 Archived in USA

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Brings back great memories of our visit to this area. We stayed a night at Cape Hateras (I remember the lighthouse well) and several in Ocracoke. We rented a room near the Island Inn, and ate at Howard's Pub, I recall, and a few other places too. We loved the laid-back atmosphere of the village :) Btw, when we caught the ferry from San Juan Island to the mainland in WA last year we were able to leave our car in line and go off to get breakfast at a nearby cafe :)

by ToonSarah

I know we could probably have left the car to go eat, but Bob doesn't like to do that. When I was working, I traveled with a lot of equipment and some of my co-workers had their cars broken into and stuff stolen. And someone broke the back window of one of our cars to steal a speaker. So we don't leave the car with stuff in them that people can see.

I'm guessing that you went back to Hatteras after Ocracoke?

by greatgrandmaR

No, we took the ferry to Cedar Island and drove down via Beaufort for the night and then on to Wilmington where we spent a couple of nights before heading to Charlotte for our flight home. We were towards the end of a road trip that took in the Blue Ridge Parkway, Appomattox (excellent living history talk there!), Jamestown, Williamsburg, right down the Outer Banks from Kitty Hawk to Ocracoke and then back via Wilmington as above

by ToonSarah

We went through Beaufort on this trip but didn't stop on the way down. We were there for awhile on the way back. And also Jamestown, but I haven't been to Williamsburg in the last 30 years, and I've never made it to Wilmington NC. I'm watching the weather channel now as all of the OBX have been evacuated for Hurricane Florence including Ocracoke.

by greatgrandmaR

I know - I've been thinking about Ocracoke and all of that area a lot. We're seeing the coverage of the evacuations etc on the news over here

by ToonSarah

Ocracoke lucked out in the hurricane. They only got 70 mph winds and there was no appreciable flooding. There was some damage to Route 12, and the ferry service from Cedar Island was suspended, but local people made the run in their own boats to get water etc. The ponies are fine, and so is the lighthouse and the British Cemetery

by greatgrandmaR

That's good to hear - thanks for the update :)

by ToonSarah

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