by Kevin P. Duffus ©2013
"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.