Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. October Interviews 10/6 Joan Garcia 10/13 M. E. Browning 10/20 Lori Lewis Ham 10/27 Krista Davis 10/31 Veronica Bond Guest Blogs 10/2 Kathy Manos Penn 10/16 Kate Lansing 10/30 Jule Selbo -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Outer Banks, N.C., Ocracoke Island

This is the third and final week of touring North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the setting of my novel, Sparkle Days, a paranormal romance mystery. If you didn’t catch the first two weeks, Bodie Island and Hatters Island, check them out at "The Outer Banks-Bodie Island" and "My Setting-Hatteras Island"

The island of Ocracoke lies to the south of Hatteras Island, and although Route 12 does continue, you can’t drive there. Travel to Ocracoke is by water or air. Once on the island, you can resume driving.  The State of North Carolina runs a wonderful ferry system between the islands. The ferries are free between the islands, although they charge a small fee for the longer routes to the mainland. Ferries depart from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke Island.

The ride from Hatteras to Ocracoke takes forty minutes and places you at the northern tip of Ocracoke. Once off the ferry, Route 12 resumes and runs down the center of Ocracoke to the south. The island is sixteen miles long and the vast majority of the land is uninhabited. On the east, the Atlantic Ocean borders the island’s continuously stretching beaches. There are five four wheel drive access points spread along the sixteen mile beach. The National Park Service (NPS) provides parking lots, facilities and walkways to the beach built sporadically down the coastline for access by foot. Pamlico Sound borders the island on the west. On this side, the scenery varies among marshes, wetlands, forests, and pasture. Route 12 goes over several small bridges due to the fresh water creeks. Be sure and stop at the Pony Pasture, where the NPS protects and cares for the once wild island horses, a treat especially to the youngsters in your group.

There is only one town on the island, Ocracoke Village, which is located almost on the southwestern end. The picturesque village surrounds Silver Lake, a fresh waterhole. Ferries depart to the mainland or to Cedar Island. Ocracoke Village is small, but filled with restaurants, shops, motels, B & Bs, fishing excursions, and historical landmarks.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the ocean surrounding the Outer Banks is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to the shoals and dangerous currents. During WWI and II, German U boats used these waters to torpedo merchant ships helping the British war effort and the name Torpedo Junction became popular. In 1942, a German torpedo struck the HMS Bedfordshire. Residents recovered only four bodies. All hands were lost. A British Cemetery created for the four bodies, two unknown, became British soil. The cemetery is located in Ocracoke Village. The U Boats were effective weapons during both wars, but in 1943, the US Coast Guard along with help from US aircraft ended the U Boats’ reign of terror. Several U Boat crews were captured. To learn more about Torpedo Junction, go to 

Ocracoke’s most famous inhabitant, Edward Teach, more commonly known as Blackbeard, used the island for his hideaway while keeping out of the English Crown’s way. The colonies were part of England in Blackbeard’s time, and the monarchy had appointed governors to serve and carry out the monarchy’s dictates. Charles Eden governed North Carolina. Blackbeard and Eden formed an alliance that enabled Blackbeard to reside in North Carolina without fear of prosecution. He even married, though it ended unhappily for his bride, and spent time in Beaufort socializing with the local gentry. The Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, hated Blackbeard. Spotswood captured William Howard, Blackbeard’s quartermaster, and threatened him with hanging. Howard told of Blackbeard’s whereabouts, leading to a final showdown with Blackbeard and resulting in his beheading after a fearsome fight. Eden protested Spotswood’s persecution of Blackbeard saying Spotswood had no authority to go after Blackbeard in his jurisdiction, but Blackbeard was already dead.

A happy legacy of Blackbeard’s hideout is Howard’s Pub, which is one of the settings in my short story, “Implicated by a Phrase.” William Howard returned to Ocracoke. His descendents are alive and living well there. You can visit the Howard cemetery, located on Howard Street, and visit The Village Craftsman, a shop featuring exquisite woodwork, pottery and handcrafted jewelry, also located on Howard Street adjacent to the cemetery. The graves date back to William Howard’s time.

Noah Porter built the Ocracoke Lighthouse, located in the village, in 1822 making it the second oldest lighthouse in North Carolina. The bricks were covered with a weird mixture of lime, salt, ground rice, whiting and clear glue. Undoubtedly, this covering has been replaced, but remains true to its original color. The confederacy dismounted the Fresnel lens during the Civil War in an effort to disrupt water blockades the Union Navy created. The Union restored the Fresnel lens by 1864. During hurricanes, residents have used the lighthouse as shelter since it was built on high ground.

Cape Lookout National Seashore, the most southern islands of the Outer Banks, is composed of Portsmouth Island, the Core Banks and the Shackleford Banks. These last three islands are uninhabited, although tourists may vacation on those islands, but camping and bringing food are necessities since there are no facilities of any kind. During the 1860’s, Portsmouth Village on Portsmouth Island was once inhabited by over eight hundred residents. NSP conducts tours of the town. Commercial ferries will take cars and foot passengers to the island, but cars must be parked upon arrival since there are no roads on Portsmouth Island. The shelling and fishing are great on these remote islands, but beware; the mosquitoes are large and aggressive.

Beach Bum Tip #4
Check the ferry schedule for departure times, which change by season, and arrive early. The ferry lines can be long. Also, keep in mind that locals are accommodated before tourists, which can delay your schedule by a half hour to an hour. Here is a link to the NC Ferry schedule: NC Ferry Schedule 

Beach Bum Tip #5
When four wheel driving on the beach, check the tide charts for that day. Beaches narrow during high tide and can result in loss of a vehicle if drivers aren’t careful.

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