Legends about Blackbeard stretch far and wide, but it is known for certain that the pirate had a penchant for Ocracoke Island.
During his brief career of piracy in the Carolinas, one of Blackbeard’s favorite anchorages was on the south end of Ocracoke Island, in a channel that is now called “Teach’s Hole,” borrowing from one of his pseudonyms, Edward Teach. (Blackbeard’s given name may have been Edward Drummond.)
Teach’s Hole channel is a stretch of water that connects the Atlantic Ocean and Ocracoke Inlet with the deeper waters of the Pamlico Sound — the perfect deep-water anchorage in the midst of a commercial shipping lane. And the land adjacent to Teach’s Hole is high-ground, covered with thick, tall trees — the perfect place for pirates to keep a lookout for approaching vessels.
The point of land near Teach’s Hole is today known as the Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, and it’s a relatively untouched piece of Ocracoke Island. If you want to see for yourself what Ocracoke Island looked like in Blackbeard’s day, take a walk through the preserve.
When you’re there, stretch your imagination back to October 1718, when Blackbeard is said to have hosted the largest ever pirate gathering right here on this point of Ocracoke. Imagine Blackbeard and fellow captains Israel Hands, Charles Vane, Robert Deal and Jack Rackham and their pirate crews partying beneath these live oaks, swilling rum, butchering hogs and barbecuing on the beach.
As the Springer’s Point trail winds through the woods and out to the beach, imagine the Adventure, Blackbeard’s ship, anchored in the adjoining creek, its masts peeking above the marsh grasses, awaiting the arrival of an unsuspecting cargo ship.
And looking out into the inlet toward the ocean, imagine the bloody battle in which Blackbeard lost his head, because it happened right here, in Teach’s Hole channel, on November 22, 1718. It was on this day that Blackbeard battled with Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy and had his head slashed from his body by one of Maynard’s crewmen.
Blackbeard’s head was taken away from Ocracoke, tied to the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop. Maynard had Blackbeard's body thrown overboard into the Pamlico Sound, where, as the legend goes, his headless body swam around the sloop seven times.
It’s said that the spirit of Blackbeard lives on at Springer’s Point. Nocturnal visitors have reported seeing unusual lights on the water and hearing strange movements and unidentified sounds coming from the forest. “More than one person has reported feeling the presence of the ghost of Blackbeard, searching in vain for his head,” says Phillip Howard of Ocracoke.
There are some who believe that Blackbeard’s buried treasure may also be somewhere on Springer’s Point. The night before he lost his head, someone asked him if Mrs. Teach knew where he had buried his money. He replied that nobody but himself and the devil knew where it was. No large treasure chest of gold or money has ever been found.
If you plan to visit Springer’s Point on Ocracoke Island, keep in mind that it is a nature preserve and should be treated as such (leave your metal detectors and treasure-digging shovels at home). It’s also important to note that the preserve offers no parking. You must walk or ride bikes to the entrance on Loop Road.
To learn more about Blackbeard while on Ocracoke Island, visit Blackbeard's Lair at Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop on Highway 12. There you’ll see original art, a life-size recreation of Blackbeard, ships' surgical tools, ship models, a weapons display, a short documentary about Blackbeard’s life and death at Ocracoke, and more. The shop also offers tons of pirate paraphernalia.