Many thanks to Claiborne Young for contributing to our website. If you would like more information about his Cruising Guide Series, or wish to order any of his works, click here.
Hatteras village is one of the older settlements on the Outer Banks and one of the few to retain its original name. This community should not be confused with Cape Hatteras, located 13 miles to the northeast, or with Hatteras Inlet, about 4 miles down the island.
The Rollinson Channel affords reliable access from Pamlico Sound to Hatteras village and Hatteras Inlet. Named for John Rollinson, who managed a porpoise-processing factory in the area about 1885, the cut is well marked and holds minimum depths of 7 feet. Though the channel is subject to shoaling, the Corps of Engineers can usually be relied upon to quickly clear away major obstructions. An excellent series of daymarks facilitates navigation. These aids are so numerous that first-timers may become confused. Be sure to read the navigational account of the Rollinson Channel later in this chapter before making your first visit.
Hatteras boasts some of the most extensive facilities available to cruising craft on Pamlico Sound. Southeast of flashing daybeacon #HR, you can cruise into a sheltered harbor whose entrance is marked by flashing daybeacon #2. Almost immediately, you will spy Oden's Fuel Dock (252-986-2555) straight ahead. This is a great spot to fuel up with either gasoline or diesel fuel. The friendly staff can often call ahead for you and arrange dockage at either Hatteras Harbor Marina or Teach's Lair Marina. Oden's also features a large variety and tackle store just behind the fuel dock.
If a visit to Hatteras Harbor Marina is your goal, continue cruising southwest from Oden's Fuel Dock and the marina slips will eventually come abeam to port. Most of the facility's dockage is on the harbor's well-protected southwesterly tip in a basinlike area that cuts back to the southeast. Hatteras Harbor Marina is a modern facility oriented toward power craft. It offers berths set inside wooden pilings standing out from the concrete sea wall. Entrance and dockside depths run 6 to 9 feet. Transients are readily accepted, and there is no longer a requirement that guest craft be equipped with diesel power plants. Diesel fuel is available, but gasoline is not. Mechanical repairs can be arranged by way of independent technicians. Showers and a laundromat are on the grounds, and there is a large, well-stocked ship's, variety, and tackle store (plus a dockmaster's office) just behind the northeasterly slips. The on-site Harbor Seafood Deli is open from lunch until 7 p.m. The seafood is undeniably fresh and quite tasty. A grocery store is accessible via an 0.25-mile walk.
After docking, visiting cruisers will most likely find themselves surrounded by a large portion of the Hatteras charter-fishing fleet. The presence of the resident charter craft can contribute to an interesting stay.
Access to Hatteras village's other full-service facility is gained by way of a short cruise southwest on the Hatteras Inlet channel. Southeast of flashing daybeacon #24, follow the Hatteras Inlet ferry channel for a stretch, then cut east into the marina's sheltered basin.
Teach's Lair Marina, formerly Hatteras Fishing Center, welcomes all transient boaters. Overnight berths at fixed wooden piers with water and 30- and 50-amp power connections are usually available. Call ahead to ensure that all available dockage has not been taken up during one of Hatteras's many fishing tournaments.
Some low-tide entrance and dockside depths of as little as 4 feet can be a bit of a problem for long-legged vessels. Gasoline and diesel fuel are on hand, and mechanical repairs can be arranged. Visiting cruisers may make use of the shower facilities to wash away the day's salt and grime. Teach's Lair features a large ship's and variety store. Several restaurants and the grocery store mentioned above can be reached by way of a walk ranging from several blocks to 0.5 mile. A new Holiday Inn is located next door to this marina, a convenient choice for those who want to leave the water for a bit. Teach's Lair is an unusually friendly marina even in this land of friendly marinas, and I recommend it.
Several restaurants, motels, and grocery stores are within walking distance of Hatteras village's marina facilities. Many veteran Hatteras visitors beat a path year after year to the Channel Bass Restaurant (252-986-2250). This wonderful dining spot is located to the north on the main road, N.C. 12. The few extra steps are well worth the effort. The Channel Bass has the reputation of being one of the best seafood eateries on the Outer Banks. Don't miss the Hatteras chowder, a unique soup with a deep and hearty flavor all its own.
Hatteras village retains some of its early charm. While new construction is very much in evidence, a few old homes remain. These veterans of many a storm speak of a simple elegance so characteristic of the Outer Banks. Take the time to stroll through the village at your leisure.
Hatteras Village History
No one seems exactly sure when Hatteras village was founded, but a post office was established here in 1858. During the Civil War, the Hatteras region became the first portion of the Confederacy to fall to Union forces. A lifesaving station was built near the village in 1878. This station was originally called Hatteras, but its name was later changed to Durants to avoid confusion with the Cape Hatteras Lifesaving Station, just to the north.
In 1923, Brigadier General Billy Mitchell used a nearby landing strip as the takeoff point for his now-famous exhibition of air power against naval ships. History suggests that the formation of the modern United States Air Force was a direct, if delayed, outgrowth of this demonstration.
Paved roads did not reach Hatteras village until the 1950s. In 1936, the Corps of Engineers dredged the Rollinson Channel, allowing ready access from the sound to Hatteras Inlet. Soon, a sizable fishing fleet began to develop. Relatively easy access to the waters off Cape Hatteras, one of the world's great natural fisheries, and to Pamlico Sound made the village a natural location for the angling trade.
Today, the future of Hatteras appears bright, and its rich past is far from forgotten.
The Hatteras region is the setting for many moving legends. One of the best is the story of Hatteras Jack, a tale sure to bring a smile to anyone who has ever watched the fluid play of a bottle-nosed dolphin. By 1790, the story goes, most shipping had moved north from Ocracoke to the new Hatteras Inlet. Just as it is today, the channel was a twisting snake liable to convulse into new turns with every tide. Those were the days before buoys, daymarks, and any other aids to navigation. Passage of the tortuous cut was fraught with peril.
Help for distressed mariners came in a most unusual form. Pilots began to notice the lithe figure of a snow-white albino dolphin preceding each boat through the cut. Amazingly, the creature seemed always to follow the ever-changing channel. Soon, captains came to trust Hatteras Jack, as he was called. They would blow their foghorns just outside the inlet to summon this master of sea and sand. Legend says that Hatteras Jack would appraise the draft of an incoming vessel and carry it through only when the tide was high enough for safe passage. Once the boat was through the passage, the porpoise would invariably put on a fascinating show of tail walks, jumps, and barrel rolls, seemingly in delight at a job well done.
As the federal government began to place aids to navigation in the inlet, Hatteras Jack must have felt his work was no longer needed. He was seen less and less until finally his visits ceased altogether.
Hatteras Jack has not been forgotten. As Charles Harry Whedbee writes, "Many remember him and speak of him with love and with gratitude. He is part and parcel of their tradition. He, too, was a real Outer Banker."