Ocracoke… after all these years!

This will be our third trip north on the ICW, the second in Maerin. Our first was in 2000 delivering the Carver to the Chesapeake, the second a similar run with new-to-us Maerin in 2006, and this, our milestone trip where we finally made the run from the ICW east to Ocracoke, a side trip of about 50 miles each way, or a day’s run. Our goal was to make this trip this year, a promise to ourselves, made when we began in November, and finally kept!


Ocracoke holds a special meaning for us. As a teen, I came to Ocracoke with my family for many years. Our first trip was a camping trip to the National Park Service (NPS) campground north of the village. It was a rustic setting, our accommodations  consisted of a pop-up tent camper, mimimal electric, outdoor showers with no hot water, and the water was ground water with the accompanying “rotten egg” smell. The memories are vivid, my meticulous mother showering while Dad stood sentinel, her protests about showering with the NC national bird (the ubiquitous mosquito!) rising over the sound of the stinky water spraying from the shower head within the wooden cubicle. Our camping venture was a one time deal, figure that. I thank the mosquito population. Our later stays were in the village, in various rental cottages. At the time, they were cottages with spartan accommodations; ground water (smell) and no A/C, with a pitcher pump to deliver cistern water at the sink, but by comparison, dee-lux by the camping standard!  Still, the “dirty person” was compelled to wash all the dishes and flatware upon our arrival, and daily swept the sand from the floors!


Days were taken up with trips to the beach, fishing, an occasional charter with Capt. Thurston on Southwind. Our evening entertainment was simple, with games and other family activities. There were probably 3 shops in existence at the time., and 2, maybe 3 stores – Community Store, Styron’s, and Corky’s. They were never open in the evening. The Ness Cottage, originally owned by Yorker’s, still stands today, although the property has been subdivided and now has the original cottage, a restaurant, two shops and another house on the property. The original cottage is hidden behind and between the two shops.(below)


Our visits to Ocracoke continued through the years and as each of the siblings began our own families, the tradition grew for those new family members. Our annual trips included extended family, frequently three families staying in one house, with boat in tow, and bicycles for all 14, our annual trips became the highlight of the year. “Captain’s Quarters” (newly renovated above, right) in Oyster Creek was a favorite for the availability of a dock. A boat adds another dimension of activity with crabbing, fishing, and exploring sand bars in the sound.
In 1980, we decided to share our enthusiasm for Ocracoke with more of our family, since they had all heard so much about this enchanting place for so many years, it seemed there was enough interest that we could talk some of our extended family into making the 13 hour trip!  We made the calls for rentals, sent letters to family in PA and NY, and the trip came together. There were 39 of us who descended upon Ocracoke that year, complete with custom made T-shirts for all, distributed on our arrival. “Oh, you’re with that bunch with the yellow shirts….!!” We were distributed in 4 houses, and had some meals in the one house on the corner which is no longer there, but may exist, we’ll review our old photos which are of course all in York!  We stayed in


the Wahab-Williams with all the others with small kids. A zoo…. ONE bathroom! It is now relocated and restored as a museum. Memories have faded over 30 years, but it was fun to try to pick out the landmarks, most of which are still there, just in different context!  There are lots more photos in the Gallery.


We’ve had a wonderful time here, spending time revisiting such wonderful memories. We fulfilled a promise made to ourselves in November, and a promise made to Dad just a few short weeks ago. We scattered some of Dad’s ashes at the surf on the beach filled with some of the best memories we have of my parents, a fitting tribute  to their love of this place and the memories they gave us.


We’ll probably head back to the ICW Monday, it promises to be a sloppy ride with the low that is moving off the mid-Atlantic providing some changeable winds. Another day beating head seas!

9 Responses to “Ocracoke… after all these years!”

  1. the eichers on 21 Jun 2009 at 6:08 PM #

    Hi there – nice photos, great to have such wonderful family memories. Have a Happy Fathers Day Steve! Any plans to head our way this summer? Keep us posted. Our trip to Sweden and Iceland was fantastic – we were all together to witness Brad receiving his Masters. We will have to fill you in sometime. Travel safe – talk soon, The Eicher’s

  2. Karen on 21 Jun 2009 at 7:10 PM #

    Happy Father’s Day Dad! I’m glad you got to spend it in Ocracoke, I just wish I could have been there with you. I love you so much!

  3. Lisa on 21 Jun 2009 at 10:47 PM #

    Happy Father’s Day brother,
    We had a beautiful morning on Pole Steeple Jeri and I threw Dad up into the wind at the top of the mountain while we were standing on the rocks over looking the South Mountains and the Appalachian Trail. I think it was a very fitting celebration of a day that will now hold a bit of a different meaning to me from now on,We were so fortunate to have such a wonderful loving mother and father,a couple that taught us the importance of family and the meaning of love one another.
    I am glad you had such a great visit at Ocracoke I miss the place.
    Safe travels one your way north.
    Love Lisa

  4. Cindy on 21 Jun 2009 at 11:20 PM #

    Wow, do those pictures bring back some great memories. We had some fun times. I’m ready to go back anytime.

  5. Karen on 22 Jun 2009 at 12:04 AM #

    So for anyone reading this, I’m considering planning a trip back to Ocracoke – since I have time! Anyone who would like to be included in the planning, send me an email at karensipe@hotmail.com. Dad, you may not want to organize it, but there are a lot of people who will come, so I’m “taking the reins” in this one – pun intended!

  6. Bill on 22 Jun 2009 at 6:42 AM #


    Captain’s Quarters with a paved driveway??? Site of several “first beers” after the long 12 hour trip with excited (and bored) kids ready to hit the sand roads with their bikes.

    Ocracoke WAS a great place for you to share the memories of your mom and dad. Tremendous history just as the “Pole’s Steeple” was for Jeri and Lisa above. I’m sure all of you had a great day and thanks for sharing thoughts about your dad (and Mom) this special year.

    Quite a difference this year for you and Barb, going from the “roughing it” years in the Wahab Williams to the Maerin. I’m glad to see you could now return to such a treasured place with so many family memories.

    Happy Father’s Day Steve,
    See you in a few weeks.


  7. Kelly Reider on 25 Jun 2009 at 11:59 AM #

    Oh-my!!! Take me back right now! Jason and I are planning a trip to Ocracoke next summer. We figure the munchkins (Keira) will be able to handle the drive then at 2 and half years old. It has changed though, hasn’t it? Much busier streets and a lot more shops (unfortunately some junky ones.) But it still hasn’t lost its charm!

    How long has it been since you were there last? I guess Jason and I were there about 3 years ago, with Adam and Charlette.

    What a wonderful place to take your Dad (Steve).


  8. maerin on 25 Jun 2009 at 12:04 PM #

    Talk to Karen, she wants to go back too. Lots of great memories, glad you enjoyed the reminders!


  9. Donna & Max on 10 Jul 2009 at 8:19 AM #

    Just now catching up on your postings. What happy, adventurous memories you all share. That’s something no one can take from you. Your parents were terrific and raised a wonderful family.

    Don’t forget to get in touch when you get back to York, we want to treat you to a good (depends on who’s making it) bar-b-que in our back yard and catch up on what’s happening.

    Donna & Max