Maritime Disaster Off Ocracoke in 1837

On October 9, 1837, the steamship Home ran into a powerful hurricane that became known as the “Racer’s Storm.” The ship was en route from New York to Charleston and was operating with a damaged boiler.

Steamships, built for speed and comfort, were not designed for rough ocean travel, so the choppy surf was treacherous for the Home. Hoping to wait out the storm, Captain Carlton White grounded the struggling vessel about 100 yards off shore near Ocracoke Village, but the surf tore the vessel apart.

Although there were 135 people aboard, there were only three lifeboats (one of which was destroyed in the wreck) and a mere two life preservers. The two men who secured the life preservers lived, but 70 passengers and 25 crew members were lost. It was not until 1852 that Congress enacted legislation that required ships to carry an adequate number of life preservers.

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