Blackbeard Adventure Alliance

Building Blackbeard's Ship "Adventure"

The Vision

The AdventureThe AdventureThe Project

The Blackbeard Adventure Alliance (BAA), a tax-exempt maritime education organization, is seeking contingent geographical groups of maritime heritage enthusiasts in eastern North Carolina to become partners in the building, operation and port visitations of sloop ADVENTURE. She will provide daytime sailing excursions, overnight voyages between ports, participation in historical reenactment events and offer guests roles as crew members. She will be a floating classroom, using interactive lesson plans that link sciences with sailing the Ship, mastery of seamanship skills and team building, as crew muster to the Captain commands. ADVENTURE offers sailing programs for adults, teens and community organizations.

The ship is envisioned as a working seagoing replica of a quintessential 18th century armed merchant sloop. She will be built to 21st century Coast Guard specifications and certified for conducting educational programs at sea. From the inception, BAA plans to utilize ADVENTURE as an educational vessel. Learning opportunities will include the ship's design and construction. The vessel's designer of choice is internationally recognized naval architect, Melbourne Smith who has designed remarkable educational replica vessels including the LYNX, U.S. Brig NIAGARA, CALIFORNIAN, SPIRIT OF MASSACHUSETTS, and PRIDE OF BALTIMORE and FEDERALIST. Preliminary Lines Drawings and Dimensions (scantlings) have been prepared for BAA by Mr. Smith.

Historic Context

The sloop was a popular sloop that was common in its time - fast, nimble, with a shoal draft. These ships functioned as merchant vessels, then as pirate ships and privateers. ADVENTURE will be a replica of Blackbeard's favored design as portrayed in the painting "Return of the Pamlico Pirates." Later the ship served as a privateer, pressed into service during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Sloops sailed between North Carolina ports and trading designations along the eastern coast, the Caribbean and the West Indies.

Recreations of the voyages of ADVENTURE sailing to North Carolina's ports will enhance students' understanding of our coastal waters and the interface of transportation, trade, and economic development. These are the primary reasons that the ports of eastern North Carolina and with the maritime heritage of the region were established. Waterways were the cornerstone of eastern North Carolina's economic development and profoundly shaped politics and society, even dictating location and origins of settlements in the region. North Carolina's estuaries were the historic highways, and are now the scenic byways, in the Region.

Early economic development was dependent upon waterborne commerce flowing through port districts - Currituck, Albemarle and designated seaport towns of Bath, Beaufort, Brunswick, New Bern, Edenton, Elizabeth City and Washington. The coastal islands of Ocracoke, Portsmouth/ Shell Castle and Bald Head are noteworthy in the fascinating story of entrepreneurs devising transportation systems that utilized the sounds and their estuaries, while overcoming the challenges of shallow waters and shifting sands. These waterways were essential to connecting Carolina's Coasts, Sound Country to Seaside.

The water continues to direct growth and contribute to the region's economic foundation. The historical shifting of sands and shallow inlets continues to pose economic challenges to North Carolina's present-day Ports. Interpreting this dynamic maritime heritage can not only create a magnetic draw for cultural tourism but also develop an empathetic public to current economics of maritime transportation. Sloop ADVENTURE is an icon of North Carolina's historical development of transportation and commerce and a dynamic link to today's ports of Morehead City and Wilmington.

Organization and Operations

The Blackbeard Adventure Alliance, Inc. filed Articles of Incorporation in 2008 with the NC Department of the Secretary of State. A feasibility study was completed for the Blackbeard Adventure Alliance by Winslow Group, Inc. 2010. In Nov. 2014 the Blackbeard Adventure Alliance Inc. received notification from the Internal Revenue Service that it is a tax- exempt organization with Public Charity Status with an effective date of exemption: May15, 2011.

The BAA has published a business plan. The budget is centered on building the ship, funding its use, supporting its programming, and operations. A professional feasibility study indicated the need for a much broader regional coalition for economies of scale in funding and operations. The plan, We're Charting a New Course for the Future, will be revised to reflect the participation of regional partners, and a broader interpretation to reflect the historic vessel's planned multiple uses. The Plan does provide specific pertinent information, including details of staffing, expense, and voyaging.

Regional partners will form the Blackbeard Adventure Alliance. The BAA will own, operate, schedule, and maintain the vessel ADVENTURE. The proposed eight regional partners are cited on the attached map and correspond to the historic port districts and seaport towns. The Alliance will share both costs and benefits of ADVENTURE sailing to their destination ports.

Upon commissioning, ADVENTURE will sail to the Ports of North Carolina, offering on board programming, including a variety of sailing opportunities, overnight voyages from port to port and participation in historical reenactment events. ADVENTURE can "sail into the classroom" using interactive lesson plans that electronically link the on board, and enable others to watch demonstrations performed by the crew, or interview the Captain.

Each Alliance Group will promote their respective geographic areas as destinations for maritime heritage tourism. Each group is responsible for planning the use of "their ship" when visiting "their port". This includes providing an appropriate waterfront for docking and berthing ADVENTURE, coordinating and planning events in advance of the ship's arrival in port, promoting the visit, compliance with local ordinances and safety issues, and managing ticketing and boarding arrangements.

The voyages of ADVENTURE to North Carolina's ports can evoke timeless memories for all mariners at heart whether the experience occurs aboard the tall ship as passenger and deckhand or as an observer shore side.

"We preserve only what we appreciate, appreciate only what we understand, and that understanding is incomplete without experience.” (Senior Captain of US Brig Niagara)

Read more: The Vision
Economic Benefactor Then and Now - Black Beard the Pirate (In Memoriam)

by Kevin P. Duffus ©2013

Springer's CalmSpringer's Calm

"Teach's Hole Channel was like a mirror. Ragged tatters of cirrus clouds streaked overhead and were reflected in the water like a kaleidoscope of nature. And in the distance, the indistinct, gauzy horizon blended water and sky in a pale palette of mauve. Was I seeing the thin veil of time? Was all that had happened still there?"

The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate


In 2007, on the morning of the 22nd of November, the air was still and the water lapped ever so lazily as I stood alone at the edge of Ocracoke Island where the sandy beach of Springer’s Point merged with the historic roadstead of Teach’s Hole Channel. The hour was eerily silent and entirely devoid of the malevolence, terror, and bloody life-or-death struggle that had occurred there long before.

What occurred there 289 years earlier was why I was there, to remember the day that Black Beard the notorious pirate, and most of his men, were killed in a furious hand-to-hand fight lasting fewer than six minutes. In all, 23 men were killed that day, including 11 Royal Navy sailors.

Even though the story survived the centuries and grew into  a legend of outlandish proportions enriching authors, publishers, and film producers, the memory of those real-life souls who perished there near Springer’s Point had long-been forgotten. Those pirates, sailors, and slaves were “once living men” with hopes and fears, families and friends, whose fates delivered them to a pivotal moment in time that made world history, but cost them their lives.

They ought to be remembered, I thought. They ought to be honored for giving history something worth preserving. On that quiet day in 2007, I resolved that in forthcoming years I would not stand there alone. It was then that an idea was born that would take on a life of its own.

Read more: Economic Benefactor Then and Now - Black Beard the Pirate (In Memoriam)
Edward Salter

Salter's Capture by Black BeardSalter's Capture by Black BeardNoted historical researcher and BAA board member Kevin Duffus believes that Edward Salter, a barrel-maker who died in 1735, was a cooper forced into piracy after Blackbeard captured him on a ship near Puerto Rico in 1717. Salter was not onboard the Adventure at the battle of Ocracoke, but was later captured at Bath. No official record of his execution has ever been found so Kevin believes he escaped the noose and returned to settle in Bath. Salter went on to become a warden of St. Thomas Parish in Bath and an assemblyman representing Beaufort County in 1731.

Read more about Edward Salter in the article "The Life, Death and Lasting Legacy of Edward Salter".

Blackbeard's True Treasure

However, there was a treasure, and it likely survives to this day in Eastern North Carolina.

North Carolina's Department of Cultural Resources proudly boasts - and rightly so - that it has retrieved over the past 15 years more than 250,000 artifacts from the Queen Anne's Revenge, including the anchor recently brought to the surface. Few experts, however, have considered the cargo of flesh and blood transported by the famous ship.

This is not the pirate history you will see on the silver screen, find on roadside historic markers, read on museum walls or hear at our state's historic sites. But it is our history.

In November 1717, north of Barbados, Blackbeard positioned his flotilla in the path of slave-trading ships arriving from West Africa, where he captured the French slaver La Concorde, renaming her the Queen Anne's Revenge. Historians have surmised that he wanted to capture a big slave ship in order to mount up to 40 guns aboard, making her as powerfully armed as any Royal Navy warship patrolling the West Indies.

I believe it was to serve a different purpose.

Read more: Blackbeard's True Treasure