Below are a few of our Projects we have ongoing here at the Museum. Your donations help create and maintain many of our projects. Clcik on the photos to see enlargements.
Eighty Two years ago an Ocracoke fisherman, Stacy Howard, commissioned a master boat-builder, Tom Neal, to begin building him a fine new fishing boat. The work was finished by another island boat-builder, Homer Howard, who added a rounded cabin near the prow. Proud of his well-designed craft–a traditional deadriser—Stacy Howard gave it the name of his teenaged daughter, Blanche. (He had another boat, the “Lela”, named for his older daughter.) Blanche Howard Joliff, now in her nineties, still remembers how happy she was when her father named the boat for her.
The “Blanche”, now belonging to the Ocracoke Preservation Society, was once more the object of much sawing and hammering, as boat-builders and volunteers set out to restore her to her former glory. (Boats are traditionally referred to in the feminine gender.) Craig Wright, a boat-builder at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC, was commissioned to oversee the work. He, along several volunteers from the Maritime Museum, worked with Ocracoke volunteers Tom Wright and Tom Payne to replace the rotten wood in the deck, the rub-rails, the washboards and the gunwales, and apply a new coat of paint. With the work near completion, the Blanche looks great!
Today she sits in a wooden cradle in the yard of the Ocracoke Museum, where she serves as an exhibit of Ocracoke’s maritime heritage. Her story provides a fascinating look at the island’s fishing traditions from the 1930s until 2006. In that year, the “Blanche” was donated to the museum by another island fisherman, James Barrie Gaskill (the son of one of the boat’s former owners) and since then she has shown how, through contributions of time, hard work, and money, a community can save and preserve a part of its culture.
In 2000, the heirs of Charles and Robbie Runyon’s estate decided to honor their parents by deeding a 15-foot wide access way to the Pamlico Sound from the south side of the island (Down Point) to OPS. We keep it passable and available as one of the few remaining publicly accessible paths to the Sound. Charles and Robbie were committed to preserving the unique lifestyle and environment we are accustomed to here on Ocracoke. The path is heavily wooded and provides a nice covered walkway to the Sound, you might even see some Joe Bells blooming near the beach entrance.