72
O is for Ocracoke and Ocracoke Pilot Young Miles Gale, a navigation and pilot
apprentice.
Miles Gale (b 1702 d Aft. 1748). Miles would have been 14 years old in 1716
when Port Bath was created. He was one of four children of Christopher Gale,
and was named after his grandfather and uncle in England. His father, NC’s first
chief justice, most likely taught Miles navigation since Christopher Gale despite
his legal training was known to be a fur trader explorer and navigator and
contemporary of John Lawson before he married the wealthy widow of Governor
Harvey. Records show Mile’s father even after being appointed President of the
NC Courts and Chief Justice taught Miles, one of his four children, , and also at
least one other navigation apprentice Nathaniel Ming. (See N is for Nat).
Miles grew up to be a sea captain, master of his own ship, sailing frequently between North Carolina and New
England. In 1723 Miles married a woman in Boston , had two children a boy and a girl, and eventually returned
to North Carolina. In 1734 Miles was named an official Ocracoke Pilot. Below is a painting of a pilot ship guiding
a schooner into port. Back then a pilot ship might have led the way or the pilot may have boarded the schooner
and relieved its unfamiliar captain from the helm, steering the ship’s wheel . The pilot would stay on board with
the visiting vessel until it arrived in port. Meanwhile the pilot ship might also deliver a second pilot while waiting.
Incoming vessels often waited outside Ocracoke inlet in the Atlantic Ocean waiting for a pilot to help them
navigate to Port Bath.
Although an ongoing commission of five Port Bath townspeople was charged to supervise Ocracoke to Bath
routes, as well as the pilots and channels,
Colonial records state there is no evidence that
any pilot was appointed to Ocracoke inlet until
Captain Miles Gale took up the position in 1734,
Colonial Records, vol. 3, 638. Decades later, in
1795, a visitor who paddled down the Atlantic
coast and through the Outer Banks in a “paper
canoe” (Jonathan Price) noted of the inhabitants
of Ocracoke, “They are all pilots; and their
number of head of families is about thirty.”
Source Price quote, . “A Description of Occacock
Inlet.” Newbern: Francois-X Martin, 1795. The
North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 3, (Oct.
1926):
624-
634.
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