Every area has its local legend, lore and even ghost stories. Topsail Island is no different. With pirates of the past roaming these waters, centuries old history found along the shoreline, and antiquated relics of days-gone-by, it’s not hard to imagine that there are whispers of bumps in the night, mysterious shadowy figures and unexplained sights and sounds to this very day.
We spent one week during spring break on this beautiful island at the coast of North Carolina and pursued together with the Mueller family the folk tales we heard…
Blackbeard the Pirate’s Lost Treasure
Blackbeard the Pirate was a larger-than-life menace that sailed coastal Carolina and is said to have spent some time in and around Topsail Island itself. While talk of his piratical escapades spans all along the Eastern Seaboard, Blackbeard and his crew of pirates terrorized sailors on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1716 through 1718. His best known vessel was the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which is believed to have run aground near the Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina in 1718.
Blackbeard is said to have met his match when he encountered Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy in Ocracoke. It ended badly for the pirate with his head swinging from the bow of Maynard’s sloop. Maynard searched for Blackbeard’s treasure but found only supplies and letters. When Blackbeard died, the secret of his treasure died, too. Or did it?
Some say that Blackbeard gifted Topsail Island with his greatest possession: his buried treasure. There’s some talk around these parts that in Topsail Beach there is a supposed bottomless hole, which the locals call the Gold Hole. Topsail legend has it that in the mid-1900s, a team of treasure hunters came to Topsail from up north and identified that hole as the hiding place for Blackbeard’s treasure. They spent many weeks in the Gold Hole working into the late hours of the night. But one morning, they were gone without warning. Disappeared. Vanished. It’s as if they had never been on Topsail Island.
We dug for hours, made huge holes and canal systems, the treasures we found: crabs, shells, glass stones, sea cucumbers, jellyfishs, crown caps, egg cases, sand dollars, shark teeth and feathers. Our house shook from time to time for inexplicable reasons, I’m still sure it’s built right on top of the gold hole…
Ghost Ships Along Topsail Island
Blackbeard wasn’t the only pirate to sail the seas near Topsail Island. In the Golden Age of Piracy, popular belief has it that pirates used to hide in the channel between the island and the mainland waiting for merchant ships loaded with goods to pass. The pirates would attack the ships and claim the cargo as their own. Eventually the merchants became aware of the hiding place and began looking for the topsail, which was supposedly the only part of the pirate ship that could be seen by the passing victim. Sound familiar? That’s because Topsail Island’s very own moniker is said to be derived from its nefarious history of topsails lurking in the waters.
Today, there are vague sightings of these apparent ghost ships looming in the distance or emerging from the horizon line. Maybe it’s just the haze. Maybe it’s just the cloudline. Maybe it’s the rum. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s something a little more sinister.
Some here on Topsail say if you are boating with your radar on at the southernmost part of the island, you may notice a blip on your radar screen indicating a presence sitting just inside the inlet. You may look back and not see anything there. But as you cruise by, the blip begins to move slowly out of the inlet, coming into the ocean and following right behind you. Tracking your every move. Quickly gaining speed on you. Watch your back, mateys!
We explored the channel with our kayaks right at the southernmost end of the island. On our adventures tours we often paddled in circles and curves, was it the ghost ship that followed us or rather our kayaking skills? Either way it was a lot of fun despite the cold water and the chilly wind. Yep the Swiss and the German don’t know any fear…
On Wednesday we headed of to Raleigh the capitol city of North Carolina to pick up Ralph. Raleigh is the second largest city of NC and foundet in 1792, Raleigh was officially named after the English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh.
It’s also called the City of Oaks by because of the vast number of oak trees. This capital city contains more than 40 free historic attractions and museums. Raleigh, along with Chapel Hill and Durham, are known for incredible educational opportunities, including Duke University, UNC University of North Carolina, Living Arts College, Meredith College, Shaw University (the first historically black university) and North Caroline State University. One of the world’s greatest technological research parks is in Raleigh, where companies like Lenovo, Sony Ericsson, IBM, Nortel Networks, Cisco and Mann + Hummel (😉) maintain head offices.
The city has a interesting restaurant scene and cute little shops with things you don’t really need but if you stand in front of them there’s not really a reason why you shouldn’t buy them. The 5th oldest amusement park in the US is situated there and soon one of the loveliest German families I know will be living there… Worth a visit!
Apart from treasure hunting at the beach and in the capital city we ate shrimps and crab cakes, worked on the best aperol spritz mix, tried to load our pancakes with even more Nutella and whipped cream, spent time in front of the fireplace with Ernest Hemingway, management ideas and psychological factors, ate the chocolate eggs from our kuds before Eastern, competed in card games, caught every sunrise, baked bread with whipping cream and did a lot of other more or less useful things.
Life is better at the beach, yes it is.