After Mass we head just a little east, over the bridge to Roanoke Island, then just a quick jaunt north to Manteo NC. We park close by the marina there, and I’m immediately captivated by a sailboat at the dock getting ready to cast off. And then there are boats and boats and more boats, so much eye candy to view. And then best of all is a short walk over the bridge to Roanoke Island Festival Park, where is docked the Elizabeth II. And she is glorious.
What she is, also, is a replica of a sixteenth century English merchant ship, like one that would have sailed across the Atlantic and landed at Roanoke Island in 1585. This Elizabeth was built here in Manteo beginning in 1982. She was launched in 1983 and formally presented to the state of North Carolina in 1984.
She’s a square-rigged ship, I’m excited to note, but she’s no ship of the line or even a frigate. As I’m talking to our guide aboard her, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with the yard on the mizzen mast. No, it’s not stowed, says he, as I’m guessing. It’s always like this, rigged fore and aft. It’s for a lateen, and that makes this ship a bark.
Later we tour the encampment on the island, and they’ve got something of a workshop going. There’s a foot-driven lathe made out of a pole lashed to a tree. And there’s a working forge, where the blacksmith makes us a nail right before our amazed eyes. Just before we leave I finally figure out what this one strange bench with contraption is all about. It’s a shaving horse! I grab the drawknife off the workbench and sit on the shaving horse, chucking a random piece of wood in the vise and locking it down with the foot pedals.
Back over the bridge we have lunch in Manteo at the Full Moon Cafe. It’s like utterly Arctic inside, so we sit outside. A badass-looking biker couple arrive to join us outside. I hear the badass biker dude lean over and tell his badass biker chick, “It’s really a cute cafe inside.”
We take a brochure and plan maybe to take a cruise on the Downeast Rover, but the not-unreasonable twenty-five bucks each fare is cash only. We could swing putting it on the credit card, but we’re a little strapped for cash this week, so we make a plan to take this cruise for sure next year.
Finally we drive just a little further up the island to the Elizabethan Gardens.