I have been intrigued with Ocracoke Island since my first trip there nearly 25 years ago. Visiting Ocracoke is like being in another time; so quiet and peaceful in a well-preserved place. The island is a part of the North Carolina Outer Banks. Most of Ocracoke Island is protected as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
On past visits, time was spent exploring the quaint little Village of Ocracoke itself. There was no time left to explore the island; it was always time to pack up and return home again.
After I returned again last fall, 2012, a thought suddenly hit me; “Why, this place is saturated with history. Why wait? Let’s get busy and explore the rich history.” And that’s exactly what I did.
If I had to select the most exciting event of this trip, it would be my visit to Teach’s Hole. “Why hadn’t I thought of doing this before? It will happen this time,” I promised myself. I decided to visit the well-known spot where the pirate, Blackbeard, anchored his ship, The Adventure. And the very spot where he fought to his death. His final battle was just beyond Ocracoke Village. It was there Blackbeard was captured and literally lost his head thanks to Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy. That was nearly 300 years ago. One legend has it that Blackbeard’s body continues to swim around the island searching for it’s head.
It rained several days during the time my husband, Jim, and I spent on the island. Somehow we were constantly rearranging our plans for my much desired adventure. Midway into our trip I announced, “We should go to Teach’s Hole today.” Jim tried to talk me into waiting. Intimidating black clouds were gathering overhead. Well, I had seen similar clouds before when there was very little or no rain. And I was anxious. I didn’t want to delay it another day. So off we go on foot from our motel. To reach the entrance to Teach’s Hole we must hike through Springer’s Point Nature Preserve.
The entrance to Springer’s Point is at least 30 minutes or more from our motel. And here we are! Just as Jim takes a photo with my new camera, I felt raindrops. He glares at me. “Let’s go under cover beneath the bushes and trees,” I suggest. We do, yet the drizzle continues.
Jim makes a suggestion, “I think we should turn around.” I finally give in. We turn around and head back toward the main road. Now the rain is more than ‘just a drizzle.’ Thank goodness I carried my waterproof hooded windbreaker with me. We hasten our pace as I wrap my windbreaker around the camera to keep it dry. I am thinking we’ll never reach Highway 12. Just as we do, I notice the massive black rain clouds have grown. They cover the sky as far as I can see in every direction. They release their holdings and I have never been so wet. “Where is that umbrella when we need it?” I wonder. “Well, of course! It’s back at the motel.”
I don‘t dare put on my hooded windbreaker. Protecting my new camera is much more important! Here we are in our short sleeve T-shirts, Jim in his jeans and I in my shorts. I decided, “We can’t possibly get any wetter.” But we do!
After what seems like hours, we are dodging huge water holes, even mud holes along the roadside. Cars and bicyclers drive past. They splash muddy rainwater into our path. Eeeew! Out of breath we finally reach the motel.
It’s two days later. Our drenched clothes and tennis shoes are still drying out. With a few uncertain clouds overhead, we enter Springer's Point on foot for a second time, both of us carrying a camera.
“This is my lucky day,” I think to myself. We are experiencing a most interesting hike through this quite peaceful forest. We see interesting little surprises along the path, a private cemetery, a blossoming bush, purple berries, even a little shell sitting on the path’s edge. I think to my self, “Ah, here’s an interesting shell.” Curious I lean down to pick it up. “Yeeow!” Its sudden movement frightens me as the little crab scurries off the path.
As our path nears Pamlico Sound I stop, slowly drink in the loveliness and take a photograph. Who might imagine this peaceful area as the place where ole' Blackbeard met his demise?
My imagination drifts far, far away to a different time; nearly 300 years ago. I spot Blackbeard’s ship, The Adventure, anchored just beyond this live oak forest and marsh grass. As I stand quietly I hear the voices of Blackbeard and several ship mates as they head across the beach toward the forest. They step on the path just beneath the protection of the beautiful live oaks. My arms are covered in goose bumps.
“It’s time we step out into the clearing now,” comes a voice from behind me. My heart stops, I catch my breath and jump. As my feet return to the path someone taps me on the shoulder. I realize it’s just my husband. I return to the present time with the thrill of a lifetime. And a new story.