Friday, July 01, 2011
Edward stood on the quarterdeck and watched the sky over the grass of Ocracoke Island.
He had dropped anchor in the tiny, winding channel. Not many ships ventured behind the island. Even the men born to those grassy shores avoided the calm, thin water, except to walk hip-high and feel for clams and oysters.
The ship nosed at the wind close enough for Edward to see the tassels of grass. He knew the swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes would be prowling. The salt smell in the air was a mix of earth scrubbed clean and soft, green rain.
Even before the voice of the lookout bellowed down, Edward saw movement on the other side of the island.
First, a mast, then the billow of sails.
Edward felt it in his gut. A twist of what was to come. He had seen how this man sailed. Like a wolf trotting in with teeth bared.
This man was not stopping.
He would challenge the shallow waters.
And for once, Edward sensed that this adversary would surely find the way through.
(Ocracoke Island, originally named Woccocon by the Native Americans of the North Carolina mainland, was discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585 when he ran aground on his way to Roanoke Island. Later, the notoriously difficult waters were hounded by pirates, including Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. In November 1718, Blackbeard was hiding behind Ocracoke Island when Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Navy captured and killed him. Today, many miles of the island are protected as national seashore. As you can see, going to these beaches is a rare experience of raw beauty and solitude.)