North Carolina is known for its pirate lore and history. The coast was perfect for treacherous pirates to do their work during the height of the pirate period. Although, at the same time the coast was extremely dangerous for those who didn’t know where the dangerous rocks resided. North Carolina is known for its “Graveyard of the Atlantic” where many ships fell, not because of war, but because of the dangerous rocks barely covered by the ocean. Those who charted the area could slip in during the dark hours and bring their stolen loot onto the shore.
North Carolina was home to Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, one of the most feared pirates. But, he was not the only one to leave his mark on the Outerbanks and areas such as Bath. Plenty of pirates learned the treacherous pathway to make it ashore and protect, even sell the items they stole from the East and West India companies, as well as other ships sailing from Europe, South America, and the world.
Blackbeard is the most famous pirate, perhaps because he has a movie about him, as well as plenty of books and other media. North Carolina does its part to bring forth his history to anyone who will listen and travel to Beaufort, Bath, and Ocracoke.
Edward Teach began his career aboard the Queen Anne’s War, joining the pirate crew and eventually taking over a French ship. He renamed the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge, and began his infamous captaining as a buccaneer. He ran a blockade in front of Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor. He also ran his ship aground in Beautfort Inlet to take his treasure to a safe place. However, his actual home was in Bath. Captain Robert Maynard was responsible for Teach’s end, when Maynard drew him onto his ship and laid in wait to kill Teach and his crew.
Bonnet was almost as notorious as Edward Teach. He was known as “The Gentleman Pirate” because he was born to wealth. He also owned a plantation on Barbados prior to becoming a pirate. In 1717, bonnet joined Blackbeard’s fleet naming his ship Revenge. Bonnet did not last long with Teach, as Blackbeard turned against him in the Beaufort Inlet incident. Bonnet was able to get a pardon in Bath, get a new ship, and started sailing with revenge in mind, under the name Captain Thomas. He was only a pirate for a year before he was hanged for his buccaneer ways.
Vane spent most of his time in Ocracoke. He was notorious as a cunning, cruel captain, who would cheat his men of their part of the treasure. He would run ships to ground, seize their goods and often capture their crew. He also took the port of Nassau, rejected a royal pardon, and shot the new governor. Unfortunately, his career came to an end when a hurricane marooned him on an island and the only rescue came from a ship that recognized him as a pirate.
On a tour of the Outerbanks, you can enjoy more of this history by visiting Ocracoke, Money Island, Beaufort, and traveling inland to Bath.