November 30, 2009
Cannons thundered at Teach’s Hole for the
second annual Blackbeard pirate memorial
By PAT GARBER
thunder of a cannon sounded across Teach’s Hole and a puff of
smoke emerged from the pirate sloop anchored there. On shore at
Springer’s Point on Ocracoke Island, a group of jauntily dressed
pirates answered with black powder firing of their own.
was not a flashback to the 17th century. The date was Sunday, Nov. 22,
2009, and it was part of the second annual Blackbeard Pirate Memorial.
It was held at the very spot where the famous pirate Edward Teach,
better known as Blackbeard, met his death in fiery battle on Nov. 22,
event was organized by Kevin Duffus, Raleigh historian and author of
the book, “The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate,” to
memorialize the “Battle of Ocracoke” and raise awareness of
this historic event. It was a follow-up to a similar event held last
year on the same date by Duffus and members of the group,
Duffus hopes that in future years an actual re-enactment of the battle can be conducted.
were about 15 pirates at this years event, all dressed out in splendid
pirate attire, including cutlasses and flintlock pistols. They stayed,
appropriately enough, at Blackbeard’s Lodge on Ocracoke’s
Back Road, where on Saturday night they watched the Disney movie
Sunday, Nov. 22, Captain Horatio Sinbad sailed his pirate ship to
Teach’s Hole and the other prates walked in a solemn, one-mile
procession to Springer’s Point, accompanied by drum rolls and
followed by intrigued observers.
the soundside beach at Springer’s Point, a beautiful history and
nature preserve, the pirates gathered, facing the crowd of observers.
Duffus spoke about the historical significance of the event and some of
the new theories about Blackbeard in his book.
was only the second time in 291 years the battle has been memorialized.
The names of the 23 men who died in battle that day were read and
honored, and 18th century music was played.
often portrayed with a flaming black beard and fierce demeanor, is one
of the world’s most famous and colorful pirates. Numerous books
and movies have been produced to try and recreate the story of him and
his pirate crew. Common belief has him coming from Bristol, England,
where he sailed for the Crown against Spanish ships.
research, however, leads him to believe that he was born in the
Carolinas around 1690. He has found no evidence of Edward
“Thatch” or Teach serving the British Crown, but says he
may have fought against Spanish ships when mating on an American
first documented evidence of his being a pirate appears in 1716, when
he is listed as a pirate commanding one of four pirate sloops in the
Bahamas. During the next two years he embarked on four major piratical
cruises, plundering throughout the Caribbean and up and down the East
believes that Blackbeard returned to North Carolina about six months
before the battle at Ocracoke, established connections with Gov.
Charles Eden, and was due to receive a pardon from him just weeks
before he died.
was Gov. Spotswood of Virginia, tired of Blackbeard’s pirating
Virginia ships, who sent Lt. Robert Maynard with two ships to capture
or kill the pirate and his crew.
found them anchored at Teach’s Hole and engaged them in a battle
which, according to Duffus, lasted fewer than six minutes.
Maynard’s men managed to overcome the pirates by pretending to be
dead and then attacking. Duffus believes it quite likely that the 23
men killed in battle are buried at or near Springer’s Point.
As interesting as the characters they portray are the re-enactors themselves.
was Capt. Horatio Sinbad, the Michigan native who spent five
years--10,000 hours-- building the ship anchored in Teach’s Hole.
How he got his ship, which he calls the Meka II, out of his backyard,
where it was constructed, and into the water was an adventure story in
itself. Capt. Sinbad has since sailed it, he says, for four decades.
Meg, otherwise known as Susan Lemieux-Cortez, is a member of
Blackbeard’s Crew, a re-enactment group located in Hampton, Va.
She recently published the book “Hatchet Meg’s Famous
Gourmet Rum Cakes,” a compilation of 42 recipes for rum cake
interwoven with pirate stories and the history of that pirate favorite,
asked why she wants to be a pirate, she answered, “A million
reasons! It’s fun and exciting. I like history and I like to see
the expressions on kids’ faces when they see us.”
Jennings, who was cleaning a late 17th century Queen Anne flintlock
pistol as he spoke, is a pirate re-enactor at a Delaware state park
where he has worked since 1998. His wife, Linda, also dressed in pirate
garb, is a seamstress who makes 18th and 19th century re-enactment
clothing. Jennings, who is also familiar with Civil and Revolutionary
re-enactments, says that pirate events are more fun than others, with
fewer rules and political feuding.
“Dread Pirate Willoughby Caught” (Cindy Warner of
Williamsburg, Va.) was the musician for the group. She called herself a
shanty woman,” playing mandolin, penny whistle, and Bodhram drum
as well as singing.
when she became a pirate, she said, “I’ve been a pirate all
my life, but I realized it 15 years ago.” Asked why she became
one, she said it as for the freedom, which she claimed as “as
necessary as the air.” She owns a business called
“Hysterically Correct” that markets a pirate show,
storytelling, and music for all ages. Her CD, “My Inner
Pirate,” is a collection of pirate tunes with lyrics that she
re-enactor Pat Mansfield is the head of the “Blackbead Adventure
Alliance,” which is gearing up to build a replica of the pirate
ship, “Adventure,” in Washington, N.C. Mansfield and her
husband moved to Bath, N. C., from Wisconsin, in part because of their
love of cruising and pirates.
what is a pirate without a ship?” she asked, explaining her
excitement about building Blackbeard’s last ship. “He was
an expert sailor, with five ships and over 350 men under him,”
Pern is another member of Blackbeard’s Crew in Hampton, where he
has held the position of the Adventure’s boatswain, Garrett
Gibbens. Cap’n Pemell Taylor joined up to be a pirate seven years
ago because of his love of history and pirates in particular. He
described with excitement a pirate ship being re-built in Hampton in
conjunction with Blackbeard’s Crew.
Colonial Seaport Foundation, he said, is funding the Luna Project,
which bought an old vessel for $1 and is refitting it to be a living
history classroom in the Chesapeake Bay in summer and a merchant vessel
in winter. It will be captained by Blackbeard’s Crew.
re-enactor, Jeannine Haigler from LaGrange, N.C., was a newcomer to the
pirate world. She learned about the Blackbeard event as a teacher
participating in Ocracoke’s North Carolina Center for the
Advancement of Teaching program, where Kevin Duffus presented a
program. Her new pirate name, she said, is Mistress Le Plume.
The audience included visitors to the island and local residents.
Among them were George and Mickey Roberson, owners of Ocracoke’s pirate shop and museum, Teach’s Hole.
said that thought the memorial service was very nice and well done,
with the cannons and the pirate ship being a nice touch.
added that “Kevin Duffus’ research looks pretty
sound,” and he plans to add a new exhibit to his museum which
will incorporate some of his theories.
Roberson said he hopes that the event will continue next year and possibly draw more visitors to Ocracoke for the fall season.