Selections from Chapter 8
Sitting on JOY’s cap, up front, was the best place to enjoy the adventure. With sails down, legs dangling over each side, I would paddle slowly, moving the oar back and forth from side to side. I was too afraid of getting stung by a stingray to walk beside JOY. I had heard too many stories of Islanders getting a stingray’s barb jabbed into their feet while clamming in the shallow waters off Shackleford. Alone, an hour’s distance from our landing, the thought of getting stung was too frightening. I stayed inside JOY except to retrieve an empty scallop shell or two.
other token...such as a string of conch eggs. The hundreds of miniture conchs inside were totally facinating and had to be seen to be believed. In retrospect, I am amazed that Miss Lillian was so generous with the freedom she awarded me on those days. I would leave the Island in early morning and be gone all day. Anything could have happened during those hours alone. JOY and I were too small to be seen from the Island shore. And there was seldom any other Islander to be seen near my wilderness.
The Island was distantly serene and quiet. The only sign of life was an occasional boat that might be seen leaving one of the Island’s fish houses after emptying its catch and refueling...or perhaps one might be seen coming around Rush Point on its return from Beaufort. But they too were quiet in the distance.
JOY and I were alone. JOY and I decided where to go and when to go there. No adults defined any rules. My constraints were the tides and weather. I knew when it would be high and low tide and slack water. I knew where the deep and shallow shoals were...or could tell where they were by looking at the water surface and color.
And I kept an eye out for summer thunderheads.
Figure 6: Path taken by deadrise sail skiffs to go mulleting up North River. Nautical Chart 421 (1940). Note the absence of the cut from “Fl ev 3 sec” to “Fl R ev 3 sec ‘50’”; the cut was made after this version of the chart was surveyed. Note also the absence of the bridge
from Harker’s Point to the Mainland on this 1940 chart.