Just about everybody loves pirates, including scuba divers. Scratch that. Especially scuba divers.
So what scuba diver would pass up the chance to do something involving her two favorite things? First, a little background.
The name strikes fear into the hearts (and wallets) of landlubbers everywhere. Few names have stood the test of time since the Golden Age of Piracy, and Blackbeard is one of them. He knew the power of name branding, and that no one would remember the name Edward Teach (Blackbeard’s sort-of real name^1^). So Blackbeard it was, with a fearsome image to go with it.
While Blackbeard didn’t pillage the seven seas, he did plunder one big one: the Caribbean, along with the Atlantic coast. It is in the Caribbean that Blackbeard first encountered the ship that would become as famous as him.
An abbreviated history of Queen Anne’s Revenge
Concord began its life as a British cargo ship in 1710. A year later she was captured by the French. After a few modifications, she became La Concorde de Nantes, how very French.
In 1717, near Martinique, this now-French vessel was captured by the pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold (I love 18th century names). Being the generous pirate that he was, Hornigold turned the ship over to one of his more capable pirates, Edward Teach, who would go on to become the infamous Blackbeard.
After the addition of guns (you know, for peace talks), La Concorde became known as Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Blackbeard spent a year with Queen Anne’s Revenge as his flagship, taking ships and cargo, building himself a handsome little flotilla. He even used her to blockade Charleston harbor in 1718.
Some suspect Blackbeard was growing tired of his ever-increasing brigade of pirates. It’s an old story, going from scoundrel pirate to Mr. Manager. As a remedy, Blackbeard ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground while entering Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. Afterwards, he disbanded his fleet and escaped on a smaller ship with a small crew.
For almost 300 years Queen Anne’s Revenge settled into the ocean undisturbed. It wasn’t until 1996 that her remains were discovered off the coast of North Carolina.
300 years of salty ocean water and the relentless tides have been hard on Blackbeard’s ship. Nevertheless, as of 2007, about one third of the wreck has been fully excavated, with the artifacts undergoing conservation.
Information, including pictures, can be found at the website setup by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources to document the process: Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project.
Diving Queen Anne’s Revenge
With this excavation project comes a unique opportunity: diving Queen Anne’s Revenge.
The experience is a mix of history, archaeology, and scuba diving. It’s a two day activity. The first day is dedicated to setting the stage for the wreck with a five-part lecture series "designed to convey the historical, archaeological, geological, and ecological significance of Queen Anne’s Revenge."
The second day includes 2 dives on the wreck itself. The years have not been kind, as anyone who has dove a wooden shipwreck can attest. In addition, sand has covered much of the wreck in recent years. However, it is still a chance to personally see a piece of history.
It is these kinds of opportunities, seeing what has been inaccessible, that excites many divers, myself included.
If you are interested in diving Queen Anne’s Revenge, check out the website. It is a historical shipwreck, so this is the only way you would be allowed to dive it.
1. Pirates would often take on made up names to not disgrace their family name. So while Edward Teach is Blackbeard’s “real” name, it is not really believed to be his real name, which remains unknown.