Sailors beware, it’s Old Quawk’s Day

Ocracoke Island [Kari Pugh photo]

Move aside St. Patrick, the Outer Banks has its own day to mark in mid-March — Old Quawk’s Day.

There’s no green beer or corned beef and cabbage on this day, named “Qauwk’s” or “Quork’s” Day for a grumpy and eccentric fisherman who disappeared from Ocracoke forever on March 16 in the the late 1700s.

Instead, it’s a day for mariners to stay home rather than face misfortunate on the sea.

“The sailor was said to be a loner, and was, by some accounts, the sole survivor of a shipwreck on the island,” the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources writes on its website. “He was called Quork because of his voice, which was said to be like that of the ‘quawk,’ the colloquial name for the black-crowned night heron.

Despite warnings from fellow islanders, Old Quark shoved off in a storm, never to be seen again.

“On Ocracoke Island and as far south as Carteret County, cautious fisherman and old salts still stay ashore on March 16, for only the foolhardy go out on Old Quork’s Day,” the NCDCR writes.

For more than 200 years, the tale of Old Quawk has lived on, and even celebrated in Morehead City in the 1970s as the opening of vacation season.

Sailors beware!

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Kari Pugh is digital director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at