It was a wild and windy day as we bid adieu to Oregon Inlet campground and drove 70 miles south to the sleepy down of Hatteras and our rendezvous with the Hatteras to Ocracoke Ferry. The ferry is free of charge and is first come first serve for all except essential services. As that includes larger delivery trucks, it pays to arrive early to ensure you have a spot on the ferry.
As we set sail I looked out over the normally placid sound which was being whipped into a frenzy by the strong north wind. This was probably Finley’s first boat ride and I wondered how good his sea legs were?
After clearing port we got out and walked around the deck and Finley enjoyed the sea breeze in his nose. As we entered a deeper channel the ship began to rock. We were the only passengers who left our car……. Well except for the green faced chap bent over the gunnels. Cattle dogs are a famously hardy breed and Finley sat calmly on deck wondering what all the fuss is about.
One hour later we had disembarked and were barreling down Hwy 12 on Ocracoke Island. A visit here is like going back in time. This narrow ribbon of land about 13 miles long and a few hundred yards wide has not changed very much since my first visit almost 30 years ago and that is a very good thing in my book. We backed into our assigned site at the nearly deserted Ocracoke campground and got set up. After set up Finley dragged me over the dunes and onto the magnificent beach which stretches the entire length of the island. Like the campground the beach was nearly deserted save for a lonely fisherman casting for blues further down shore. Though devoid of human life signs the beach was teeming with life. Pelicans and Plovers, Seagulls and Sand Pipers soared the skies and skittered along the surf and provided a target rich environment for Finley to give chase and giving me ample opportunity to take photos and beachcomb. A slice of heaven on earth for sure.
That evening we were treated to a multicolored sunset that started with a fiery orange glow and later on left the skies tinted in soft hues of pink and violet. As the paint palette sky turned to black we ate a simple meal and watched the night sky light up. It had been a glorious day.
We are on Ocracoke for a week and find ourselves, much like the tides, settling in a rhythmic routine. Long walks on the beach, exploration of the village and learning a wee bit of the colorful history of the island. It is easy to imagine the pirate Blackbeard rounding the point and clearing the bar returning from another successful raid on defenseless merchant ships. This form of terrorism was quite popular in the early 1700’s with Pirates operating from the Carolinas to the Caribbean. Coincidentally it was in Ocracoke's waters that Blackbeard met his maker thanks to skillful tactics of a certain Lt. Maynard of the British Royal Navy.
I enjoy walking the streets of Ocracoke Village, not much here has changed over the years and commercialism has been held in check. Still not a fast food joint in sight, just a smattering of local restaurants, some gift stores and artists selling their creations. You can still buy fresh fish direct from the dock and for very reasonable prices.
There is plenty of history to learn about on this little island and the way the islanders take care of that history lets you know it means something to them too. Technology and change can be marvelous things but here on Ocracoke the link to history is palpable and welcome.