Back from a relaxing ten days on Ocracoke Island. This trip was everything a vacation should be. After taking a few days to wind down, getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and taking a slice of time to reconnect with my "just me" self, the ability to think clearly and creatively returned to my somewhat fried brain! Come on vacation with me for a few paragraphs...
Sixteen miles of unspoiled beaches stretch along 16 miles of Ocracoke Island. As part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, opportunities for swimming, surf fishing, boating, clamming, or just beach combing are the order of the day. Shelling, biking, bird watching, and kayaking are also wonderful.
The village at the southern tip of the island is accessible only by private plane, private boat or one of the state run ferries. Limited access have helped preserve the prominent Old English inspired brogue of the local residents and the old time island way of life.
Until the 1950's, residents lived in relative isolation. Their contact with the mainland was from daily trips by the mail boat. Islanders made their living from fishing, hunting, and as guides. Ocracoke had long been the destination of wealthy hunters & fishermen & mainland families who could afford to summer in the cool breezes that the island offered. It was not until Highway 12 was paved and scheduled ferry service was offered in 1957 that Ocracoke Island was truly discovered.
For a brief period during World War Two, the Coast Guard Station was transformed into a US Navy Base. Beaches were closed, fishing was curtailed, homes and businesses were requisitioned, and the islands life style was interrupted. The war was witnessed firsthand offshore where " Torpedo Junction" claimed more then 60 ships during the first 6 months of 1942. The British Cemetery serves as a reminder of the generosity of Ocracoke people. It holds the bodies of four young British soldiers who lost their lives when the HMC Bedforshire was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Ocracoke coast. Island residents found and buried the bodies on donated land and continue to maintain the graves.
Ocracoke's history is rich in sea lore. Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who plundered the Carolina coast in the early 1700's, fought his last battle just off the island at Teach's Hole, where he lost his head. Legend hints that his vast treasure may still be buried on the island. Ocracoke Inlet served as the main waterway at one time forming port towns on Ocracoke & Portmouth Islands and spurring the growth of these coastal villages. Portsmouth Village, now a ghost town is maintained by the Cape Lookout Park Service and can be toured. The oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina and one of the oldest on the East Coast has stood tall on Ocracoke since 1823, guiding ships alone the treacherous Graveyard of the Atlantic.
The small community of 800 year round residents work together to preserve the islands culture and history. The Ocracoke Preservation Museum does a wonderful job of preserving the history of island life.
The motto of the real estate company we rent our cottage from is: Relax, You're South of the Stress Line!" For me, its the truth.