MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – An anchor from what’s believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship may see daylight for the first time in nearly 300 years if it can be raised from the ocean off the North Carolina coast Friday.
Archaeologists are hoping to recover an anchor from what’s presumed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge in the waters off the coast of Beaufort, where the ship sank in 1718, just five months before Blackbeard was killed in a battle at Ocracoke Inlet. The artifact is the second-largest item at the shipwreck, outsized only by another anchor.
Researchers were scheduled to go out on two boats to retrieve the anchor from the shipwreck that’s about 20 feet underwater, then bring it ashore. The work to retrieve the anchor began last week. It’s about 13 feet long with arms that are 8 feet across.
The timing of the recovery of the anchor couldn’t be better for North Carolina officials, trying to increase tourism interest in the shipwreck. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” starring Johnny Depp, was released earlier this month and features both Blackbeard and the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
The anchor is located on top of other items that the Queen Anne’s Revenge project hopes to recover from the central part of the ship. QAR project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing has said the only remaining parts of the ship — the wooden hull structure, ribs and a plank — are at the bottom of the pile, protected by ballast that was stored there to keep the ship upright. Six cannon and four anchors are also in the pile.
The largest exhibit of artifacts from the shipwreck, which was discovered in 1996, will be shown starting June 11 at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Wilde-Ramsing has said the team hopes to recover all the artifacts by the end of 2012.
In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard, whose real name was widely believed to be Edward Teach or Thatch, settled in Bath and received a governor’s pardon. Some experts believe he returned to piracy after growing bored with land life.
Volunteers from the Royal Navy killed him in Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, five months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne’s Revenge sank.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, has already yielded more than 250,000 artifacts.