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Pirate Havens

Ocracoke Island

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Ocracoke Island

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Background

Ocracoke Island was an island off the coast of the Province of North Carolina in British North America and famous for being the pirate haven of the infamous Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach. The island was first discovered for Europeans when Sir Walter Raleigh was heading towards the colony on Roanoke Island and crashed his ship the Tiger on a sandbar in Ocracoke inlet and was forced to land on the island in order to make repairs.

The British tried to colonize Roanoke Island throughout the 1500's but the settlement failed due to many factors and the whole ordeal became something of an mystery for a while. But the reality is the settlers went and lived with the natives who knew much better how to manage the land in North America than the Europeans. While the settlement at Jamestown would continue to barely survive throughout the 17th century the Carolinas would not be settled at all until 1663 when the Carolina Colony was chartered by King Charles II.

Ocracoke Island - Ocracoke Inlet Map (1775)

Ocracoke Inlet Map (1775)

Despite the establishment of the Carolinas, the remoteness of Ocracoke meant that no settlements developed on the the island until 1750 and this made it a perfect pirate haven. The area now known as Springer's Point Nature Preserve was known to have been a famous pirate hangout spot and many famous pirates of the Flying Gang such as Stede Bonnet and Charles Vane visited Blackbeard at his hideout. The island served as a perfect pirate haven, it offered easy access to the British shipping lanes coming to the New World and was also remote enough that the authorities did not have control over it during colonial times.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeard and Vanes Crews

Vane & Blackbeard's Crews - The Pirates Own Book (1837)

The numerous inlets and sandbars made it difficult to navigate and it was rumored during the time only Blackbeard's crew knew how to navigate all the various waterways to escape in times of an emergency. However, even this was not enough to stave off the pirate hunters. Despite being protected by the governor of North Carolina named Charles Eden the governor of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia named Alexander Spotswood ordered pirate hunters under the command of Robert Maynard to seek out and capture Blackbeard dead or alive at his hideout on Ocracoke. It is rumored that while waiting for Maynard the day before his capture Blackbeard cried:

"O Crow Cock, O Crow Cock"

This is thus, where the island gets it name from. Overall during the Post Spanish Succession Period the island of Ocracoke was one of the most formidable pirate havens alongside Nassau and one of the only safe reprieves pirates had.

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