October 4, 2012

Pirates are heading to Hatteras and Ocracoke for a jamboree


The word is out in the pirate community about Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree on Friday through Sunday, Oct. 26-28, and dozens of pirate aficionados are expected to descend on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands to participate.  

This first annual free event is sponsored by the Hatteras-Ocracoke Council of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce.
An evening gathering Friday at Hatteras Landing near the ferry docks in Hatteras village will be a meet-and-greet with a dozen of the pirates from Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew, a living history organization from Hampton, Va., which will conduct the authentic encampment Saturday on Ocracoke.

That encampment will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the historic Wahab House, 161 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke.

Laura Noel, 48, or “Madame Grace,” a master gunner with the 12-member crew, out of Hampton, Va., in an interview, explained that since the jamboree is on Ocracoke, everyone wants to come.

“The people we work with all year (at various events) want to attend because Ocracoke is where Blackbeard was,” she said.

Those people include The Motley Tones, a minstrel group (who also will participate in Friday evening’s event on Hatteras); the Devilmen of Cape Feare; the Shadow Players--a stage combat group from Raleigh; Captain Horatio Sinbad on the Meka II; the Sea Scouts, young maritime scouts, and the Black Flaggers from Beaufort.   

The 10-person Devilmen will arrive on their longboat, The Flory, and they will have a battle with Sinbad and his crew on the Meka II.
In addition, Ocracoke can expect a host of “random and rogue” pirates to participate in the fun, she said.

Ocracoke was a favorite haunt of Edward Teach, or, Blackbeard.  This is where Lt. Robert Maynard finally located the pirate in 1718 and, after a battle, severed the pirate’s head. Hampton, Va., is where the head was taken on the bowsprit of Maynard’s boat, Noel said.

A nurse by trade, Noel has been nourishing her pirate side for the last 13 years since she met the captain of Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew, Pernelle Taylor, with whom she manages the organization.

Noel explained that before she breached their defenses, all pirate crews were men.

“They go by the brethren code,” she said.

Persistence paid off as she eventually proved herself and was invited to join. She has since become a master gunner of the “long gun,” which is a three-pound cannon, and is in charge of a crew. In fact, she was the very first female captain of an all-woman gun crew.

“It’s one of those things people pick up,” she said of her other life. “Some women do knitting; I’m a pirate.”

Her nonprofit group is dedicated to authenticity, specifically the years from 1650 to 1730, while other pirate groups may be of the “fantasy,” “Renaissance Fair,” “Hollywood,” or “polyester” type. The Crew hosts the largest pirate fest on the East Coast the first weekend in June in Hampton.

“It’s gotta be in your blood,” Noel says of her hobby, rattling off a torrent of seafaring jargon and historical facts as she talks. “I just love history.”

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, the pirates will do their annual march to Springer’s Point to commemorate those killed in Blackbeard's last battle.  For the last several years, members of the group have come to the island around Nov. 21, but this year, they will do their march after the pirate jamboree, Noel said.

While this first year’s activities will mostly be in Ocracoke, in subsequent years, organizers hope to build the jamboree on both islands into a grand event in 2018, the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death.

The following are among Saturday’s activities:

  • 10 a.m.:  Pirate Attack!  Sinbad will "attack" the encampment, firing cannon on the Meka II, while the pirates ashore will repel the attack with their cannons onshore.
  • All day: five living history exhibits will include shipboard medicine and health, naval weapons, seamanship: rigging, knots, etc., pirate society and sociology, navigation.
  • Through the day: tavern games and pirate skits.
  • 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.: Scalawag School (or how to be and talk like a pirate.
  • 12 to 1 p.m.: Kevin Duffus, author of “The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate,” book-signing at Books to be Red, School Road.
  • 12 to 1 p.m.: Pirate Surprise at Books to Be Red.
  • 3 p.m.: The Pirates Fight Back! Ship boarding exercise on Silver Lake.
  • 4:30 p.m.: Kids sing-along with the Pirates.

Further details on the Jamboree will be posted on the event webpage: www.piratejamboree.com and its Facebook page: First Annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree.

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