After our fill of fun in Oriental, we elected to take the less traveled route up the East Coast by way of the Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands about 30 miles off the east coast of North Carolina.
Pitstop into “River Dunes” en route to the OBX
Affectionately called the “OBX”, these islands offer isolated escape from the hectic pace of the mainland and are home to some famous firsts of American history, from the first English born baby in the New World to the Wright brothers’ first powered flight near Kitty Hawk.
Our first stop, Ocracoke Island.
Part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (a marine national park) and only accessible by boat or small plane, Ocracoke is considered the Pearl of the Outer Banks for its renowned beaches, authentic village charm and natural beauty. With a clear forecast for Saturday, we made our way across the Pamlico Sound, which has a reputation for being a contemptuous and fickle body of water. Other than slow progress due to currents and little wind, we were blessed with a safe and easy sail to this enchanting island.
Evening fell as we dropped the hook in the protected Silver Lake Harbor, the very place where the infamous Blackbeard once kept his pirate fleet and met his fate during a naval battle in 1718. Surrounded on all sides by the village and a lighthouse shining brightly, Silver Lake is about as perfect an anchorage as they come. And it only got better from there. We joined Gregg and Jo on board Simpatico for a delish Indian curry chicken dinner and made plans to explore the next day.
After watching church service on Sunday, we joined Simpatico in renting bikes and pedaled off to the fun-loving Howards Pub Restaurant for lunch before making our way to the beach. And what a beach it is! With over 16 miles of unspoiled Atlantic shoreline, Ocracoke offers the most beautiful and secluded beach we’ve seen along the East Coast. No wonder it was named America’s Best Beach for 2007.
From the sun and sand, our pedal-powered machines took us back to the village for an ice cream break then on to see the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Built in 1823, it’s the oldest operating lighthouse on the East Coast. Though the interior was closed to tours, it was neat to see a tower that served as the warning guardian to so many ships.
We all continued our leisurely cruise and, from one end to the other, we covered just about every inch of the village. Along the way we stopped at the British Cemetery, where four navy men from the British Ship HMT Bedfordshire are buried and celebrated each year after their ship was sunk by a German U-Boat while on loan to the U.S. during WWII.
A must-visit if you’re in Ocracoke, Zillie’s Island Pantry is a unique wine, beer and gourmet foods and cheese shop where we stopped for pre-sundowners. Then it was back to the boats for dinner before returning to shore to enjoy some live music.
Monday morning we were up early for a sail north to Manteo on Roanoke Island, another hot spot in the Outer Banks and the home port of our friends Chip and Tammy of Cara Mia.
They, along with Dale and Karen of Jesse Marie were already there with plans for us to join them that evening for “The Lost Colony”, the nation’s first and longest-running outdoor drama reenacting the lives and fate of the first English colony to settle in the area.
After a long but (thankfully) easy trip up, we dropped the hook and dinghied in for a heartfelt reunion over pre-theater cocktails. Then it was off for an evening of entertainment at the historic outdoor Waterside Theatre.
The performance is an intense account of what was believed to have happened to The Lost Colony. It’s a story of hope and fear, of comedy and tragedy, of mystery and suspense. And it’s retold each summer on the very site where it took place.
More than 400 years ago (1587), 117 men, women and children sailed from Plymouth, England to settle on a New World of Roanoke Island. Just three years after settling, they vanished, leaving behind no trace of their fate. From the hardships of crossing the Atlantic, to attacks from Indians and lack of supply ships from their homeland, these settlers endured and kept faith that they would survive. Though the full story will never be known, it’s believed they couldn’t sustain the colony and with less than 60 remaining, eventually moved south in search of more fertile grounds.
The following morning we moved into a slip at the Manteo Waterfront Marina and borrowed Chip and Tammy’s bikes (thanks guys!) to explore the town. In between cool off sessions in the A/C aboard Kaleo, we explored the historic waterfront, visited the maritime museum and even washed the boat.
We wrapped up the evening with a “neighborhood” BBQ on the docks with Jesse Marie and Cara Mia. Dale grilled steaks and chicken over charcoal briquettes and we all enjoyed a feast of dishes from all three boats. Once again, thoroughly enjoying the friendships formed along these adventures.
Thanks for letting us continue to share these adventures with you. Can you think of a time when you took the road less traveled? We’d love to hear about it!
(*Photo credit: http://www.ocracokeisland.com/Ocracoke.htm)