Tag Archives: Ocracoke

A trip to Ocracoke Island

A day trip to Ocracoke Island is always a nice way to spend a day. I always enjoy the two and a half ferry ride from the mainland of North Carolina to this populated island of the Outerbanks of North Carolina.

My maternal grandmother’s family are from the island. They are O’Neals. Other Irish names such as Gaskill, Fulcher, and Willard are common. They also speak with an Irish accent called a brogue!

The day begins at the Cedar Island Ferry terminal waiting for the ferry to arrive at 10 am.


Once the cars are loaded we head out into the Pamlico Sound for the 2.5 hour trip to Ocracoke Island which is one of the chain of islands which forms the Outerbanks of North Carolina.


Within an hour you are out in the middle of the sound where you see no land. These bays were called “sounds” by the Irish settlers because the waters were sound or quiet as compared to the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean.


The island of Ocracoke comes into view after a few hours.


As you come into the harbor, which is called Silver Lake, the distinctive lighthouse is framed on the East side of the island.


There are many historic houses built by the Irish fishermen who settled these islands.


A close up of the lighthouse.


Shrimp boat


The Village of Ocracoke only covers the area around the harbor. The remainder of the island is part of the National Seashore.


Tourism is almost more important than fishing now and many gift shops, bed and breakfast inns, and hotels fill the village; chickens, too!


The style of seafood served from North Carolina and South through Georgia is called Calabash. It’s major difference is that milk is not used in the broth.

I love the clam chowder.


We left on the last ferry of the evening at 8pm.


The sun was setting and we arrived back on the mainland of Cedar Island about dark.


It all makes for a long day!

Find out more about Ocracoke here:




Filed under General Gardening, Travel

Plentiful rain and a ferry trip to Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island.

It was my birthday May 1st so I decided I wanted to take a trip to Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. My favorite part of the trip is the 2 and a half hour ferry ride from Cedar Island to Ocracoke Island. It crosses Pamlico Sound and for part of the trip there is no land in sight. The Sounds are the bays created by the string of the Outerbanks islands which skirt the North Carolina coast. The open bodies of water were named Sounds by the Irish settlers because the water was quiet and calm or “sound”.  It’s rather peaceful and the constant hum of the ferry engines encourages a nap!

You can also feed the seagulls off the stern of the ferry or sometimes talk to the locals. They have a local accent called “the DownEast brogue”. It reminds me of a heavy Irish accent. Sometimes they are very difficult to understand, not only for the accent, but also for some of the Old English words they use. They are descended from Irish fisherman who settled the coastal areas. The maternal side of my family is descended from the O’neals of Ocracoke. Of course, back then the boat only came once a week and this explains why my grandmother had twelve bothers and sisters. Most were involved in fishing at some point in their lives.

With the collapse of the fishing industry tourism is the major mode of income now.

The weather was windy with spotty rain. On the thousands of trips I have made as a child with my family, then later with friends, this trip was the most rough ferry ride I have ever experienced! The ferries rocked and my car, which was first on the ferry and loaded on the bow of the boat, was splashed many times with waves of water from the Pamlico Sound.

Because of the off season timing and state budget cuts the ferry schedule is reduced. Andy and I missed the last ferry back to the mainland at four PM and had to stay in one of the small hotels: Blackbeard’s Inn.

The area was a favorite place for the pirate Blackbeard to hide his boat and his name is on many businesses out there. His ship sank not too far away and he was decapitated by the British.

There is not much to do in the off tourist season. Everything closes at dusk! No coffee shops! Thus, we watched Hoarders all evening! Nothing makes me feel better about my house cleaning skills then watching five hours of Hoarders!


The ferries at the Cedar Island ferry landing as we were leaving the dock.


The wide open waters of Pamlico Sound as the ferry was approaching Ocracoke Island and the Village of Ocracoke after the two-and-a-half hour ferry ride.


The Versa on the deck of the “Sealevel” ferry. The ferries have lobbies that are above the deck but Andy and I usually remained in the car napping or reading. Each ferry is painted the color of a North Carolina University. It just so happened that the Sealevel is painted the colors of ECU (East Carolina University) where I attended for undergraduate studies.


Approaching Ocracoke Island and the village of Ocracoke. The harbour is called Silverlake.  You can see the Ocracoke Lighthouse which was built from 1798 to 1823. It’s 75 feet tall and 25 feet wide at the base.


Here is a closer view of the Ocracoke Lighthouse with Andy standing in front.


This is a picture of the Hatteras Island ferry at the Northern end of Ocracoke Island. The wind was blowing sand so hard it was caked on the windward side of the car and in the window. The salt in the air speeds rust so much so that most metal will rust overnight! The ride from Ocracoke to Hatteras is usually a shorter 15 minute ride but because of budget cuts the channel has not been dredged in a while so the ferry must take another channel making the ride now almost an hour. This is the reason we missed the last ferry back to Cedar Island and had to spend the night on Ocracoke.


This is the ferry landing on Cedar Island. Because I had not planned to spend the night I did not bring my IPhone charger so my phone died after this picture!


I am usually prepared for just about anything but decided to travel light! Wouldn’t you know this would be the one trip where a combination of budget cuts and bad weather would have made my usual packing of an overnight bag and a phone charger an asset!

Lessons learned!


Filed under Travel