A Dead Man's Ship
Early last month, a team of marine archeologists announced the discovery of a sunken hulk that was likely the flagship of Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard, one of the most notorious and follically-favored pirates to ever sail the seven seas. Found in a watery grave at North Carolina's Beaufort Inlet, the wreck has every sign of being the waterlogged remains of the Queen Anne's Revenge, a cannon-packed merchantman that sank in June 1718, interrupting the career of one of history's most storied buccaneers (defined).
If the wreck is indeed the Queen Anne's Revenge, and there is strong evidence that it is, it's great news for pirate fanciers, and even better news for marine archeologists. No matter what its identity, the discovery is important for its age -- as evidenced by a recovered foot-tall bronze bell dated 1709, a brass barrel from a blunderbuss (defined), and a mass of cannons littering the site. If the wreck is well preserved, it could put considerable flesh on the bones of the history of buccaneering.
"Ye pirate Teach" met a bloody end in November 1718, when he was set upon, shot, slashed and beheaded by British forces on nearby Ocracoke Island. We have murky records of his career as a pirate, which lasted only a few years. But in the year before his head went rolling, Blackbeard, at the helm of Queen Anne's Revenge, was the terror of the Spanish Main (defined) and the eastern seaboard of North America.
Teach cultivated a frightful image and the sight of him was enough to force most of his victims to surrender without a fight. With a beard that hung to his belly and nearly masked his face, he added to his frightful appearance, according to some accounts, by weaving gunpowder-laced wicks into his beard and lighting them as he prepared for battle.
OK. So Blackbeard was a scurvy dog worthy of his bloody fate. But it looks like he did maritime archeologists a favor by conveniently leaving for posterity one of the largest pirate ships ever to sail the Spanish Main.
So stand by to come about, lasses and laddies, and let's find out what's up down at the bottom of the ocean.
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