Friday, May 25, 2018

Ballast Stones

There are no indigenous rocks or stones on Ocracoke Island...just sand. However, visitors to the island may notice football-size rocks in local yards and gardens. These rocks may also occasionally be found under water or along the sound shore. They are ballast stones.

Ballast Stone Wall @ Magic Bean Coffee Shop












According to A Naval Encyclopædia: Comprising a Dictionary of Nautical Words and Phrases; Biographical Notices, and Records of Naval Officers; Special Articles of Naval Art and Science,
ballast is "a heavy substance employed to give a ship sufficient hold on the water to give her stability."

During the Colonial Era sailing ships left North Carolina loaded with lumber, shingles, tobacco, and other goods, but, because there was only a limited market for manufactured goods in coastal North Carolina, incoming ships carried ballast, usually rocks or stones. Of course, the ballast needed to be thrown overboard before loading outbound cargo.  

According to William S. Powell in, NCPedia, "[j]ettisoned stones began to clog the harbors so badly that in 1769 North Carolina political leader Richard Caswell presented a bill in the colonial Assembly to appoint a ballast master who would regulate this activity in the vicinity of Ocracoke Inlet. The problem persisted, however, and in 1784 the General Assembly passed an act that prohibited ballast stones from being thrown into the channel of the Cape Fear River. Thereafter, before docking, ships were required to dispose of their ballast prior to reaching the low watermark."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lighthouse Shadow -- Answer

Two days ago I published this photo of the Ocracoke Lighthouse by my grandson, Eakin Howard.


















I asked if any of our readers could explain how he got this unusual photo with a shadow of a lighthouse on the lighthouse itself.

Mike left the following comment: "There must not only be another light source to make the shadow but also a reflective source to project it to the side of the lighthouse." Mike is correct...and the full answer to the puzzle is quite prosaic. This photo, taken on the same evening, should solve the mystery:


















The shadow on the side of the lighthouse is of the small metal lighthouse-shaped donation box mounted on the boardwalk! At first I thought the moon was the light source, but Eakin told me the light came from his headlamp.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Freight And Express Service To the Outer Banks

Today UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service provide regular package delivery to Ocracoke Island. Estes Express Lines, based in Richmond Virginia, also periodically delivers larger items to the island via tractor-trailer trucks.

Before ferry service was established it was difficult to get large items to Ocracoke.

In 1941 the following proposal was being discussed in Beaufort, NC:

"There as been some talk recently by those who could make it possible, to establish a daily freight and express boat line from Beaufort to Ocracoke Island where it could very easily connect with the over-beach bus to Hatteras Island. The Beaufort Chamber of Commerce which under its present leadership has never operated on a strictly local basis, but for the Central Coast at large, is ready to help make this possible through any promotional means. The Beaufort – Morehead City Railroad Company under its present management is also considering the various angles which would make this possible – a through freight service connecting with the daily trains into Beaufort from Morehead City, eastern terminus of the A.& E. C. Railway Company and thence through Core Sound connecting with the various communities of East Carteret and terminating at Ocracoke Island. Such a plan may not operate profitably at the beginning but in the long run it would be a most worth-while investment for the firm that undertakes it. That is because the Outer Banks and Ocracoke in particular are just beginning to develop. A through freight and express service would be of great benefit to every community east of Beaufort where there are no express or freight agencies at present. It is a matter well worth considering and Beaufort stands ready, we believe, to support any such proposition undertaken by any firm or organization."

It is interesting to note that the freight service was conceived as connecting first to Ocracoke, and from there to more remote areas via an "over-beach bus to Hatteras Island," since "Ocracoke in particular" was "just beginning to develop."

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lighthouse Shadow

My grandson, Eakin Howard, made this unusual photo of the Ocracoke lighthouse a few days ago.


















The photo has not been manipulated in any way, nor did Eakin bring any props or make any alterations to his camera lens. If you think you know how my grandson got this striking image of the lighthouse with the shadow, please leave a comment. I will reveal this answer in a few days.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information (and an artist's sketch) about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ocracoke Lighthouse Newsletter

Most visitors to Ocracoke fall in love with our plain white lighthouse that casts a steady beam. Few people know that the Ocracoke light was a revolving light until 1854. Also, from the time of its construction in 1823 until 1854, when a Fresnel lens replaced the old reflecting/illuminating apparatus, the lantern room was a taller octagonal structure with a "birdcage" design.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse, with information about the earliest lantern room. You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/ocracoke-lighthouse/.

Artist's Rendition of Ocracoke Light, 1823-1854
Drawing by Philip Howard




















Friday, May 18, 2018

Conch or Whelk

When I was a young boy nearly everyone on Ocracoke called the following seashell a "conch":














Nowadays, we're told, this is a whelk, not a conch. In fact, in 2015 Terri Hathaway wrote an informative article in Coastwatch Currents explaining the difference (and bemoaning the confusion). You can read it here: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/currents/2015/03/whats-in-a-name-conch-vs-whelk/.

Wikipedia includes this photo of a conch:

Photo by cheesy42














Wikipedia explains that a conch "is a common name that is applied to a number of different medium to large-sized shells. The term generally applies to large snails whose shell has a high spire and a noticeable siphonal canal.... The group of conchs that are sometimes referred to as "true conchs" are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Strombidae, specifically in the genus Strombus and other closely related genera."

A whelk, on the other hand, "is a common name that is applied to various kinds of sea snail [that] are relatively large and are in the family Buccinidae (the true whelks)...."

It's all a little bit confusing to me. But since I am a big fan of Humpty Dumpty, I will let him speak for me. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (From Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll.)

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Gossip

"There is no human society without gossip," according to anthropologist, Pascal Boyer, in his 2001 book, Religion Explained. "Gossip is practiced everywhere, enjoyed everywhere, despised everywhere," he explains. Ocracoke, like many other small towns, has its fair share of gossip.

Gossip can be defined as casual conversation or reports about other people. Although gossip is sometimes despised for being mean-spirited, especially when the shared information turns out to be false, Boyer reminds us that "gossip is perhaps among the most fundamental human activities as important to survival and reproduction as most other cognitive capacities and emotional dispositions."

Gossip, information about other people, Boyer reminds us, "is a resource...not to be squandered." It helps us recognize members of our tribe who are trustworthy and cooperative (and who are not), and without such knowledge we would not have stable social interactions.

One native islander summed up Ocracoke's usually non-judgemental gossip in what has become an unofficial island motto: "We don't care what you do, we just want to know about it!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/