Sunday, September 18, 2011


Avast me hearties! It’s Talk Like Pirate Day!
Ahoy there all ye stout lads and saucy lasses!  This be Captain Larboard Slushbucket, ye trusty advisor in all matters piratical.  As ye well know, September 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day and it’s my aim herein to put ye on course for some proper piratical discourse so drop ye anchor for a gam [chat] and I’ll fill you to the gunn’ls with some salty terminology.
First off we’ll get underway with getting’ yer bearin’s.  Never say “left” or “right.”  That’s lubberly talk and ye best clap a stopper on it and stow it below.  It’s always “port” and “starboard” and ye’ve got me starboard flipper [right hand] on that. Avast [stop!] saying “front” and “back.”  It should always be “fore” and “aft.”  When a pirate goes upstairs he “lays aloft” and when he comes back down he “goes below.”  The bathroom’s the “head” and the kitchen’s the “galley.”  If you like a wench’s looks, ye could say ye like “the cut of her jib.”
On this special day, I’d advise making liberal use of ye Pyrate’s Alphabet.  Having only two letters, it doesn’t take long to learn:  “Aye!” and “Ahhrrr!”  Whenever anyone says something ye like or agree with just bellow out, “AYE!”  And when they say anything ye disagree with, don’t like or don’t understand, or to which ye can’t think of a fitting response, just yell, “AAAHHHRRRR!”
YOUR BOSS:  “Great weather we’re having isn’t it?
YOUR BOSS:  “So I was thinking you wouldn’t mind taking out the trash and sweeping the parking lot.”
Here are a few other expressions to throw around when you’re practicing piracy:
Fire a shot across his bow = give him a warning
He slipped his cable = he died
There’s rocks to yer lee = you’re heading for trouble
Sun’s over the yardarm = it’s cocktail hour and time to...
Splice the mainbrace = have a drink of...
Grog = booze (usually a mixture of rum, water & lime juice)
Spin me a yarn = tell me a story
There’s the devil to pay and no pitch hot = we’re in a tough situation
Scuttlebutt = rumor
By the wind = broke, penniless
Shipshape and Bristol fashion = tidy and neat
Making heavy weather = exaggerating the difficulty of a job
Round the buoy = take a second helping at meals
Sojering =  shirking when work is to be done
Lash up = temporary or sloppy job
Half shot or half seas under = nearly drunk
Three sheets to the wind = totally drunk
Shot in the locker = money left over after an evening’s carouse.
Fair winds to ye now, and smooth sailing on September 19th!

Monday, September 5, 2011


This morning I attended a planning session for the 5th annual Ocrafolk School to be held October 23- 28, 2011. Turns out there's room for a few more lucky participants for next month's term. Once again this year, Dave Frum, Philip Howard and I will be teaching the "Sampler" class. But there are several other exciting offerings including Debbie Wells's ever-popular cooking class (yum!). Chances are if you read my blog you probably already know enough about Ocracoke to be familiar with the folk school, but on the outside chance that there may be a few readers who haven't gotten the word, please check it out at:

P.S. I just checked out the website for the first time today and, while I think it's really great by and large, I was mortified by the photo of the Turk's head bracelet which displays an obvious flaw! Trust me: I won't let you go home with a bracelet like that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Like so many recent hurricanes, Irene seems to have caused far more damage to our neighbors up the beach and across the sound than to Ocracoke. Remarkably, there was no flooding on Ocracoke and, although there was a lot of wind for quite a while, there was very little damage. The worst result for us here on the island is the damage to N.C. 12 and to the power line (both on Hatteras Island) which has necessitated closing the island to visitors through the Labor Day weekend. Rumors abound and I'm not sure how much to trust much of the information I'm getting, but I've heard that the restoration of our electricity may permit reopening to tourists early next week. It appears that the damage to Highway 12 may not be repaired enough to allow traffic from the north for several weeks to come, however, so our only access will be via the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries.

In an effort to make the best of an unfortunate situation, our family (complete with dog AND cat!) took a little "evacu-cation" to visit inlaws in Columbus, Ohio. It was fun and we drove through the night on our return in time to catch the 10 a.m. ferry at Swan Quarter on Tuesday. All three kids resumed school on Thursday but only for half days Thursday and Friday.

I took the older two kids on a little sailing cruise across the sound. We left Friday (I know, I know, but I'm not a superstitious sailor!) at 1 p.m. and sailed over to a beautiful anchorage in the lee of Judith Island. Saturday morning we sailed up the Pamlico River and when I gave the kids the choice between visiting Bath or Aurora, they chose the latter. We docked up, and walked up the street, not knowing what to expect in a town alleged to have recently experienced serious flooding. To our surprise, the place was fairly well cleaned up and the Fossil Museum was even open, as was the Piggly Wiggly and a surprisingly good local restaurant. We cast off at 5 p.m. and motored down stream to an anchorage off the village of South Creek.

There was no wind this morning, so we had to motor all the way back to Ocracoke, arriving at 2 p.m. It's nice to put up the sails now and again and just keep on sailing over the horizon!

While all of us here on the island wish we could still be in the peak of the season with cash registers buzzing away, it's nice to kick back a bit and take a breather. Philip Howard has put together a traditional Ocracoke square dance at the Community Center this evening. I've got to go shower and put on my dancing shoes!

Before signing off, I'd like to thank the many of you who phoned and e-mailed with expressions of concern and, in many cases, offers of refuge. One of the few really good things to come of these natural disasters is the reminder of how many really good friends we have scattered far and wide. Thanks!