North Island, lovely and windswept, is located overlooking the shipping channels at the entrance to WInyah Bay. Many years ago, when weather forecasting was based on instinct rather than technology, furious storms sometimes slammed the tiny island unexpectedly and with great force. These storms were feared by shrimpers and ship pilots for they made the shoal-riddled Bay even more treacherous to cross. Consequently, in the early 1800's, a thick stone lighthouse, featuring a great whale-oil lantern and cozy living quarters, was erected on North Island. In time, a lighthouse keeper came to live there with his small, fair-haired daughter, Annie.
When supplies ran low, Annie and her father rowed across the Bay into the bustling port of Georgetown. Always, they were careful to schedule their excursions to travel with the tides and arrive back on the Island in time to light the great lantern before darkness fell. One afternoon, after a pleasant visit in town, the pair loaded their small boat and set off for home. Usually the trips were relatively easy and not unpleasant, but on this day, the lightkeeper warily took note of a brisk wind that had come up while they were in town. Soon ominous clouds gathered overhead and mercilelssly dumped rain and hail on the little boat. Relentless, the wind grew stronger and whipped up tall imposing waves. With more that a quarter of the trip still before them, the boat was swamped. Desperate, the lightkeeper tied his beloved daughter to his back and tried to swim. Overcome with shock and exhaustion, he did not remember crawling ashore. Many hours later, he awoke to find his drowned daughter still strapped to his back.
From that day until this, sailors have reported stories af a sweet blonde child appearing on their boats-usually on calm, sunny days-pointing to the Bay and pleading "Go Back" Always, her entreaties precede violent, unanticipated storms. Legend as it that those who ignore her well-timed warning soon find themselves facing a watery grave.
Photo by permission of The Lighthouse People. All rights reserved.