Friday, August 5, 2011

Under The Black Flag; Part I

Ash and I just got back from our fourth trip to Portsmouth Island NC, and I think it makes sense to first provide a bit of information about the island.

For the uninitiated Portsmouth is an uninhabited island south of Ocracoke in the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The National Parks Service manages the Island.

Morris Marina” a private family owned ferry business out of Atlantic NC transports visitors to the island and deposits them at the village of rustic cabin rentals run by the NPS near mile marker 16.

The "Donza Lee" on her way
The village has a public bath house, fish cleaning station with potable water, and the park service sells ice and unleaded gasoline at $5 plus a gallon should you need to fill up.

That is the sum total of services on the Island. (Morris Marina will ferry just about any requested item over to you by simply calling their office.)

There are a few interesting dynamics of note on Portsmouth.

You have the fishermen, who travel up & down the beach in incredible fishing rigs searching for red drum.

Once they figure out that you’re not a poacher or a jerk they have invaluable advice about fishing gear, tackle, bait, and hot spots on the island.

Very much like the family who runs Morris Marina, these folks are the soul of Portsmouth Island. (Realize that there is so much more history to this that can’t be covered here)

Then you have the National Park Service employees.

Biologist, Bio-techs, Rangers…folks like that. (Understand the difference between a government agency and the people who work for it)

The Biologist and techs are there to research coastal birds and sea turtles that do their thing on the island.

An osprey eyes the ferry as we pass
Because nature has to do its thing the NPS will either restrict or close certain sections of beach to foot and vehicle traffic to protect the wildlife.

The Rangers enforce all of the laws on the island like checking fishing permits, and catch regulations, as well as monitoring that no one violates beach closer areas.

Go through a restricted area and expect to get a $150.00 fine.

I have yet to have a single issue with anyone from the NPS, and for our part they have been friendly, informative, and professional.

There are however rumors both past and present of over zealous Rangers, and I can say that at least 2 groups of people who accompanied us on our ferry ride back went home with lighter wallets due to various infractions on the island.
Part II follows...