BOOM!

BlackBeard A pirate ship’s cannon fires a warning blast. The explosion rocks a nearby merchant ship. Musket balls fly. Grenades explode. A wounded helmsman staggers. He lets go of the ship’s wheel, and the ship swings around crazily. Flames flicker everywhere. Pistols fire. Pirates, screaming threats, board the merchant ship, swinging axes and cutlasses (short, curved swords). Hissing through his teeth, Blackbeard—one of the most dreaded pirates who ever lived—jumps to the deck. He stands tall and lean. Pieces of rope burn like fuses among coils of his black hair. Sashes stuffed with pistols and daggers crisscross his huge chest. Black ribbons flap from the braids in his beard. Terrified sailors flee. Blackbeard and his fierce crew have pirated another ship.

IT WAS A REIGN OF FEAR that lasted two long years. Blackbeard and his crew of pirates terrorized sailors on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1716 through 1718. They ambushed ships carrying passengers and cargo in the dim light of dawn and dusk when the pirates’ ship was hard to see.

The pirates often determined a ship’s nationality first. Then they raised that country’s flag on the pirate ship so they appeared to be friendly. Now able to draw close to the unsuspecting ship, the pirates hoisted Blackbeard’s flag only at the last moment. BlackBeard's

Merchant crews often surrendered without a fight the moment they saw Blackbeard’s flag. If the ship didn’t surrender after warnings, the pirates moved in. Frequently their first target: the sailor at the ship’s wheel. Then, as the pilotless ship drifted aimlessly, the pirates snared it with grappling hooks, pulled it closer, and leaped aboard. When the attack ended, the pirates took the passengers and crew hostage and ransacked cabins looking for coins, gold, silver, and jewelry. Blackbeard repeated this scene over and over again.

BLACKBEARD WAS BRITISH, probably born before 1690. His real name was thought to be Edward Teach. As a young seaman, he had served on a British privateer that was based in Jamaica, an island in the Caribbean. Privateers were privately owned, armed ships hired by governments during time of war. The privateers’ mission was to attack the ships of the enemy. Queen Anne of Britain allowed Teach’s privateer to plunder French and Spanish ships during the War of the Spanish Succession and to keep stolen goods. By war’s end, Teach had become an experienced sea robber. He then joined a group of fierce Caribbean pirates.

Soon the cunning, fearless Teach became captain of his own ship—one he had stolen! He added cannons and reinforced the ship’s sides. His ship was swift, easy to handle, and able to carry a large crew of as many as 250 pirates.

MOST MERCHANT SHIPS carried little, if any, actual treasure. They usually hauled cargo such as grain, molasses, and kegs of rum. They also carried supplies of rope, tools, and ammunition. After taking over a merchant ship, the pirates divided the booty, or stolen goods, among themselves according to strict rules—the captain and certain officers received larger portions. Sometimes the pirates stole the ship as well as the cargo.

As Teach’s power and reputation as the most frightening of pirates grew, so did his beard and hair. Now calling himself Blackbeard, he braided his beard and tied the braids with black ribbons. He stuffed burning rope under his hat to make himself look more ferocious and menacing. He scared everyone.

Some merchant ships carried passengers—often targets of pirates. According to one story told about Blackbeard, a passenger once refused to give up his diamond ring. So Blackbeard sliced off his finger, ring and all.

Blackbeard once took over a large cargo ship carrying many wealthy passengers—including children—as it sailed out of Charleston, South Carolina. The hostages were locked in the dark hold of the ship. Blackbeard threatened to kill them all if the townspeople in Charleston didn’t come up with the ransom: a medical chest filled with remedies. The deadline for delivery passed. The hostages were frantic. The pirates prepared them for hanging. Colonial

With only minutes to spare, the town came up with the ransom and delivered the medicine chest. Before releasing the hostages, the pirates stole all their jewelry and clothing.

Blackbeard made a home base in North Carolina, a British colony, near a string of islands called the Outer Banks. From there he preyed easily on ships traveling the American coast. Local townspeople tolerated his presence because they liked to buy the goods he stole, such as cloth and sugar. Pirate goods were usually cheaper than imported English goods. The colony’s ruling officials turned a blind eye to Blackbeard’s “import” business.

In the fall of 1718 Blackbeard returned from sea to his favorite hideaway off Ocracoke Island. He hosted a huge, wild pirate get-together with dancing, drinking, and bonfires. Other famous pirates sailed in for the days-long event. BlackBeard's

News of the pirate bash reached Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia. He decided that the time had come to stop Blackbeard once and for all. He spent the next several weeks planning Blackbeard’s capture.

SPOTSWOOD SENT TWO SLOOPS, small swift ships, commanded by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy to Ocracoke. Seeing the navy’s sails, Blackbeard and his pirates knew they were trapped. Only sandbars lay between them and the navy. By morning, the tide would rise, the sloops would glide over the submerged sandbars, and the attack on the pirate ship would begin.

All through the night Maynard’s men prepared for the next day’s fighting. Muffled laughter and swearing from the pirate ship echoed across the water. Blackbeard didn’t seem worried about the upcoming battle. His pirates, however, were nervous. They stockpiled ammunition on deck and soaked blankets in water in preparation for putting out fires. They spread sand on the decks to soak up blood once the fighting started. Thinking it likely they would all die, one pirate asked Blackbeard whether Blackbeard’s wife knew where he had buried his treasure. Blackbeard bellowed that nobody but he “...and the devil knew where it was, and the longest liver shall take it.”

In the morning Blackbeard didn’t try to outrun the navy sloops. Instead he waited at his ship’s wheel. His crew was puzzled. Finally, when Maynard’s sloops started moving toward the pirates, Blackbeard ordered his crew to set sail. He seemed to be steering the ship directly toward the beach! They were going to crash!

But then Blackbeard eased the pirate ship through a narrow channel between the beach and a barely visible sandbar. Chasing the pirates, the navy sloops crashed into the sandbar.

Blackbeard shook with laughter. The pirates blasted the stranded sloops with cannons. Thundering explosions shook the waters. Then the pirate ship lurched backward—and became stuck on a sandbar. BlackBeard

One navy ship lay destroyed. Maynard’s sloop was battered. Maynard ordered his men to throw food and water barrels over the side to lighten the ship. It worked. Floating free of the sandbar, Maynard’s damaged sloop edged toward the pirate ship. Maynard ordered his men to hide below decks with pistols and swords ready.

Blackbeard’s men hurled grenades onto the seemingly deserted navy sloop. The pirates boarded the ship easily. Suddenly, Maynard’s men rushed the deck, firing pistols and wielding swords. The pirates turned around, completely stunned—they had been tricked into thinking the navy crew was dead. A battle began. Screams and cries of pain filled the air.

Pistol in one hand, cutlass in the other, Blackbeard came face-to-face with Maynard. They both fired pistols. Blackbeard missed. Maynard hit his mark.

Shot, Blackbeard still managed to swing his cutlass and snap off Maynard’s sword blade. Maynard drew back. Blackbeard raised his arm for a finishing blow. Just in time, a navy seaman came up from behind Blackbeard and slashed his throat. BlackBeard's

AS A WARNING TO OTHER PIRATES, Blackbeard’s head was cut off and suspended from the bow of Maynard’s sloop. Maynard searched for Blackbeard’s treasure but found only supplies and letters. When Blackbeard died, the secret of his treasure died, too—if indeed he ever had one.

 

                            

 

The fierce Blackbeard on the Outer Banks

Arrr, Matey! Outer Banks Pirates...The fierce Blackbeard on the Outer Banks

During the Golden Age of Piracy, several pirates roamed the waters off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Captain Kidd, Calico Jack, Black Bellamy and the famous Blackbeard all created an unforgettable reign of terror for the coastal colonies. Pirates had their own identifying flags, and when waging battle, they would hoist the Jolly Roger - the infamous skull and crossbones flag.

Blackbeard gained a notorious reputation that often led his victims to surrender without a fight. Blackbeard dressed in all black and would tie colored ribbons in his long black beard. He lit slowly burning cannon fuses and then placed them under his beard. Blackbeard was tall with a muscular build, and with smoke billowing around his head, was terrifying enough to strike fear into the hearts of the bravest of men. His defeat and beheading was the end of an era, but his legend lives on. Locals say that on clear nights, Blackbeard's body swims around Teach's Hole in Ocracoke in search of his lost head. The waters glimmer and shine in the moonlight, hence the name "Teach's Lights." It's said that whoever follows these lights to the end will find Blackbeard's buried treasure, but they will also find the devil himself sitting cross legged upon the chest, ready to claim himself as Blackbeard's sworn partner!

Learn about Outer Banks piratesLearn about Outer Banks pirates

Speak Like a Pirate!

Ahoy! = Hey!
Aye = Yes
Booty = Treasure
Grog = Pirates' drink
Jolly Roger = Pirate flag
Matey = Friend
Thar = "There"
Scalleywag = A scoundrel
Davy Jones' Locker = Bottom of the sea
Lilly Livered = Weak
Buccanneer = Pirate
Swashbucklin' = Causing trouble
Yo Ho Ho = Pirate laugh
Shiver Me Timbers! = I'm surprised


Pirate Trivia - Did you know...?

  • Pirates believed that having women on board the ship was bad luck, yet there were famous women pirates.
  • Life on a pirate ship was dangerous, but not because of fighting! Many pirates died of food poisoning, starvation, and common diseases.
  • Pirates often didn't get enough vitamin C, which sometimes led to blindness - this is why many wore eye patches!
  • Pirates believed that piercing their ears with precious metals would give them better eyesight!
  • Movies made the phrase "Walk the plank" famous. In reality, most people were just thrown overboard.

Ghosts of the Outer Banks...

Ghosts are all sorts of things to different people. Outer Banks folklore tells tales of spooked farm animals, creaking floors, squeaking doors, seeing things move out of the corner of one's eye and general uneasiness. Some people believe they are energy sources, some believe they are heavenly comforts. There is the Gray Man of Hatteras, who roams the beach between Cape Point and the lighthouse, who beckons residents to find safe ground when

storms approach. There are stories of ghost ships, eerie cries and moans from the sunken Carroll Deering, known as the phantom schooner, and ghostly piano tunes said to be heard on quiet Outer Banks nights. On Roanoke Island it is said you can still see the spirit of Virginia Dare in the form of a white doe roaming the forests around Mother Vineyard.

Are these legends simply good storytelling, or is there more to it? Looking out over the vast Atlantic Ocean at night makes one wonder just what is fact and what is fiction... You decide.

 

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Area Features
Blackbeard the Pirate
By: Molly Harrison

Legends about Blackbeard stretch far and wide, but it is known for certain that the pirate had a penchant for Ocracoke Island.

During his brief career of piracy in the Carolinas, one of Blackbeard’s favorite anchorages was on the south end of Ocracoke Island, in a channel that is now called “Teach’s Hole,” borrowing from one of his pseudonyms, Edward Teach. (Blackbeard’s given name may have been Edward Drummond.)

Teach’s Hole channel is a stretch of water that connects the Atlantic Ocean and Ocracoke Inlet with the deeper waters of the Pamlico Sound — the perfect deep-water anchorage in the midst of a commercial shipping lane. And the land adjacent to Teach’s Hole is high-ground, covered with thick, tall trees — the perfect place for pirates to keep a lookout for approaching vessels.

The point of land near Teach’s Hole is today known as the Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, and it’s a relatively untouched piece of Ocracoke Island. If you want to see for yourself what Ocracoke Island looked like in Blackbeard’s day, take a walk through the preserve.

When you’re there, stretch your imagination back to October 1718, when Blackbeard is said to have hosted the largest ever pirate gathering right here on this point of Ocracoke. Imagine Blackbeard and fellow captains Israel Hands, Charles Vane, Robert Deal and John Rackham and their pirate crews partying beneath these live oaks, swilling rum, butchering hogs and barbecuing on the beach.

As the Springer’s Point trail winds through the woods and out to the beach, imagine the Adventure, Blackbeard’s ship, tied up in the adjoining creek, its masts peeking above the marsh grasses, awaiting the arrival of an unsuspecting cargo ship.

And looking out into the inlet toward the ocean, imagine the bloody battle in which Blackbeard lost his head, because it happened right here, in Teach’s Hole channel, on November 22, 1718. It was on this day that Blackbeard battled with Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy and had his head slashed from his body by one of Maynard’s crewmen.

Blackbeard’s head was taken away from Ocracoke, tied to the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop. But Maynard threw Blackbeard’s body overboard into the Pamlico Sound, where, as the legend goes, his headless body swam around the vessel seven times.

If you’re really brave, head into Springer’s Point Nature Preserve at night, for it’s said that the spirit of Blackbeard lives on at Springer’s Point. Nocturnal visitors have reported seeing unusual lights on the water and hearing strange movements and unidentified sounds coming from the forest. “More than one person has reported feeling the presence of the ghost of Blackbeard, searching in vain for his head,” says Phillip Howard of Ocracoke.

There are some who believe that Blackbeard’s buried treasure may also be somewhere on Springer’s Point. The night before he lost his head, someone asked him if Mrs. Teach knew where he had buried his money. He replied that nobody but himself and the devil knew where it was. No large treasure chest of gold or money has ever been found.

If you plan to visit Springer’s Point on Ocracoke Island, keep in mind that it is a nature preserve and should be treated as such (leave your metal detectors and treasure-digging shovels at home). It’s also important to note that the preserve offers no parking. You must walk or ride bikes to the entrance on Loop Road.

To learn more about Blackbeard while on Ocracoke Island, visit Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop on Highway 12. Along with tons of pirate paraphernalia, you’ll see a life-size recreation of Blackbeard, a weapons display and a short documentary about Blackbeard’s life and death at Ocracoke.

 
Blackbeard the Pirate
RELATED LISTINGS
Activities:
Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit
 
Shopping:
Teach’s Hole Pirate Specialty Shop
 

Outer Banks Pirate

Blackbeard the Pirate Rogue Killed in a bloody and dramatic hand-to-hand shipboard battle in November 1718 at Ocracoke Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The attack was led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard, by order of Governor Spotswood of Virginia. Read More>>>

Surf Report for the Outer Banks end of spring 2010. Water temps have rised into the 50s. Big surf on Hatteras Island last week with all surf spots firing from Corolla to Frisco pier. There's a small Longboard wave coming in here in town, looks like it could be fun at the right tide. Check out the Outer Banks Pirate surf page. Read More>>>

Welcome to the 42nd edition of the Outer Banks Pirate. Here you will find Outer Banks information, local events, Pirate legends and Surf information. Set sail for Outer Banks adventure with local flavor and humor.

Blackbeard was the most notorious pirate in the history of Outer Banks seafaring. With a beard that almost covered his face, he would strike terror into the hearts of his victims, according to some early accounts, by weaving wicks laced with gunpowder into his hair, and lighting them during battle. Read More>>>

Anne Bonney and Mary Read were both fearless and famous pirates who plundered the coasts of North and South Carolina. Sailing with the legendary pirate captain Jack Rackham nicknamed " Calico Jack " for his striped pants. This unlikely trio settled on the Carolina coast . Read More >>>

Fishing Report for the Outer Banks end of spring 2010. Some good fishing beginning to show up on the northern beaches. Nice flounder have been caught in the inlet. Pulled a couple of Rockfish from the Oregon Inlet Bridge on Hatteras Island. You can still book a charter to go offshore fishing for tuna, dolphin and marlin in the gulf stream.