Friday, April 02, 2010

Goose Creek Island, NC: Friendly Pate Boatyard

At 8:00am Friday Sandybottom left Pate Boatyard in Hobucken, to paddle around Goose Creek Island. Her path [white track in image above] from Pate Boatyard was ESE out Jones Bay. At 10:30 she reached the Pamlico Sound, turned NNE and called home. By 11:40 she had turned west, come inland through Mouse Harbor, and called home to say she was sick (vomiting, etc.) and was calling it a day. Someone at Pate Boatyard kindly drove her vehicle the 6 miles to pick her up [yellow track in image above]. She was back at Pate's by 1:20pm and headed to her tent to take a nap. Pate Boatyard is hosting members of two kayaking clubs this weekend for camping and kayaking. The remainder of the circumnavigation [purple track in image above] will have to wait for another day. Sandybottom reported that the area is indeed very beautiful and that she is looking forward to return visits. Stay tuned for her trip report (conditions, sea state, skirting a bombing range, helpful crab fisherman, lots of bears, friendly folks at Pate Boatyard , etc.)

Overview of the area

A History of Pate Boatyard

"Pate Boatyard is something of an institution on Goose Creek island, or more specifically, in the village of Hobucken, NC."

This accurate summary is a quote from the current owner of Pate Boatyard (from ) who wrote the following short history...

"When white settlers first sought refuge here some 300 years ago they did so primarily for the abundance of seafood that was readily available as well as the numerous well protected creeks and bays.

Generation after generation of Goose Creek islanders grew up knowing that the bounty of blue crabs, oysters and the many species of native fish would sustain them and their families, just as they had the native populations for thousands of years before. Located where the Neuse and Pamilico rivers empty into the Pamlico sound, this area today not only continues to support various commercial fishing enterprises, but also an increasing number of recreational fishermen.

Integral to fishing these waters have always been the various types of watercraft used to get out to the fish, oysters and crabs. From the humble dugout canoe to wooden skiffs, to modern steel-hulled trawlers and fiberglass yachts, this island has seen virtually every type of vessel known to man ply its waters and brave the elements in the pursuit of seafood.

It was as part of this tradition that Herman Pate opened Pate Boatyard, first in the 1920s along the shores of the intracoastal waterway, then moving to its present location in the 1950s. From all indications, Mr Herman always built a "pretty" boat, long and lean with plenty of shear, and was also something of a pioneer, experimenting early on with various types of hydrofoils.

After he passed on, Pate Boatyard was purchased by a local fisherman named Charles Spain, who after a long career of shrimping along the Gulf coast, returned to Hobucken to "semi-retire," maintaining a 50' trawler that he used for "fun". Charles made many improvements to the property before he too passed on, leaving the boatyard to his widow Mary.

Mary in turn leased the boatyard to a local seafood company, and for a number of years an incredible amount of crabs and shrimp passed over the docks of the boatyard.

In 2004, the boatyard was again sold, this time to an "outsider" who saw past the piles of rotting rope and rusting crab pots to realize that he had at last found a place for which he had been searching for over 20 years.

In the weeks and months and perhaps even years to come, this space will be used to pass along some of the rich heritage that this lucky fellow stumbled across when he purchased Pate Boatyard." [Posted October 2, 2006, on]

And More History

The history of Hobucken goes much further back in time, of course, and the current owner has also provided comments on that as well...

"Well it's a new year, but worth a look back... way back. Over the holidays a friend of mine found a pottery shard that he brought over to show me and I was stunned. There were beautiful star and zig zag designs cut into what looks like a naturally black clay base with small dots pushed into the rim of what was once possibly a small pot or other such vessel.

I say I was stunned, but as soon as the local folks saw it they all said that they too had unearthed many pieces of native american pottery over the years while oystering and trawling around here.

I had heard and read that there were some fairly large Algonquin tribes around here, but to actually hold something in your hand that came from that era changes everything. Suddenly the people who were here long before any Europeans "discovered" this area come alive.

You start to wonder who made that piece of pottery? What were they like? What was life like back then? What happened to them? And you want to know more.

There are some around here who also asked those same questions and at least one (that I know of) who's actually done some real research on the subject. Some of his findings, as well as numerous other stories of life on Goose Creek Island can be found in Odell Spain's Cap'n Dell's Stories ( It's a great book on this area that touches on some of the native sites and finds, and if you've ever been interested in what life was like in a small NC coastal fishing community I'd highly recommend it." [Posted January 5, 2007 on ]

Life in Hobucken

Additional commentary on life around Pate Boatyard can be found in other posts...


1 comment:

Michael said...

That's too bad. Hope you're well enough to get the rest done soon!