North Carolina Maritime Museum
315 Front Street

Beaufort, NC

November 14, 2001

A number of years ago, before Bob and I started traveling by RV, we had visited a lovely bed and breakfast in Beaufort, NC. While we were there we saw a maritime museum that was nearby, but found that it was not open at that time. Now, many years later we decided we'd drive through the town and see if the bed and breakfast was still there and found that it was still open and operating as a B&B. We decided to see if the Maritime Museum that we had seen was open. It was, and presented a good presentation of life in the little seaport town of Beaufort and the coast towns nearby. In addition they had presentations about the history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the historic lighthouses. Maritime history surrounds you as you walk amid full-sized watercraft and models from sailing skiffs to commercial fishing boats. Decoys, hand tools, fossil and shell collections, saltwater aquariums, and life-like dioramas reflect the richness of the coast's resources and history. In the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center you can watch the construction and restoration of wooden boats. The museum's small craft research program preserves the history of boats and boat building in North Carolina. You can also enjoy excursions into coastal habitats that include barrier island beaches and maritime forests, salt marshes, tidal flats, and pocosins. Board a research vessel to collect and identify marine life. Visit nearby communities to learn their history first hand and watch local boat builders at their craft. Search for fossils in the deposits of ancient seabeds.
of the interesting displays they had featured the story of Blackbeard the pirate. According to their display Blackbeard carried more guns and commanded more men than just about any other pirate of his day. His career was brief - only about two years - but his legends have outlasted those of more successful and long-lived pirates. From 1716 to 1718 Blackbeard terrorized at least twenty ships from Boston to the Bahamas. He once laid siege to the city of Charleston, South Carolina, demanding medicine as a ransom. Blackbeard hid out among the barrier islands of colonial North Carolina. When King George I offered amnesty to pirates in 1717, Blackbeard asked Governor Charles Eden for a pardon. He took up residence in Bath, Beaufort County; married sixteen-year-old Mary Ormand; and retired from piracy. But not for long. Within, months, the pirate was back in business. Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood offered a reward for his death or arrest in 1718. Two naval sloops commanded by Lieutenant Robert Maynard headed for Ocracoke, Hyde County, Blackbeard's island hideout. In the fierce battle that followed, Blackbeard fell dead, pierced by more than twenty-five wounds. The victors sailed away with the pirate's bloody head swinging from the bowsprit. In addition to the gruesome story about Blackbeard there persist to this day, stories about a number of pirate and treasure ships sunk just off the North Carolina shore. Many of these stories are credible enough to draw hundreds of treasure hunters to the waters around the area every year. A visit to the museum will enhance your appreciation of the natural beauty, precious resources, and rich cultural heritage of coastal North Carolina. This is one of those small town museums that proves size isn't everything. It was well worth the trip and time to see what they had to offer.

Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!