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The Bradsher Beat
Saturday, July 7, 2007

By Bethany Bradsher

Pirates Searching for Pirates

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

THE MAGAZINE columnist Bethany Bradsher recently completed a special assignment involving the historic shipwreck that is thought to be Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the early 18th-century pirate Blackbeard. It was an assignment that any 21st- century Pirate scribe worth his salt would relish – one in which Bradsher got close enough to the story to experience the reality – just like a real swabbie –  of heaving her breakfast into the briny deep near Beaufort Inlet. The fruit of Bradsher's seafaring and land-based reporting is an extensive package, replete with ECU ties, that explores the recovery, research and preservation efforts surrounding the QAR from a unique perspective. Watch for this special feature in the forthcoming Bonesville The Magazine.   ---   Editor
Bradsher: Pirates Searching for Pirates
Cherubini: Ex-Pirate coach applauds state of program
Myatt: Giving an East Carolina legend his due
Whitford: Don't take the 'chip' lightly

On Sale Now: The 2007
Bonesville The Magazine



Twenty-five years ago, David Moore was an East Carolina graduate student in the marine studies department, a young man who came upon a revolutionary theory as he studied underwater archaeology. He proposed that the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship might be marooned very near the North Carolina coast.

Mark Wilde-Ramsing, a doctoral candidate in coastal resources management at ECU, has worked for the N.C. Underwater Archaeology Branch for the past three decades. Ten years ago, he learned of a discovery just offshore from the Beaufort Inlet, and he became involved with early assessment of that shipwreck. Now Wilde-Ramsing is the project director for the venture that was once just a theory in Moore’s graduate paper.

Wendy Welsh grew up in Swansboro, so the coastal waters are in her blood. But still she went to the mountains, to Appalachian State, for her undergraduate studies. The passion that drew her back east was scuba diving, and along the way she learned that she could link diving with another love, archaeology. Today she works on the ECU campus as a scientist, helping to preserve items from the past. And to help her with that task, she’s pursuing a master’s in chemistry from ECU.

Sarah Watkins-Kenney’s last job title was archaeological conservator for the British Museum in London. But four years ago her husband was recruited to ECU as a physics professor, and she brought her years of training in archaeology to Greenville. Right when she arrived, a very unusual lab on ECU’s West Research Campus was looking for a director, and she found herself specializing in underwater excavation and conservation.

Each of these four scientists has a strong ECU connection, past or present. And they are four of the major players in the quest to recover the shipwreck thought to be Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Moore, Wilde-Ramsing, Welsh and Watkins-Kenney have each probably forgotten more about the QAR than I could ever know, but in my own way I’ve become immersed in this old broken ship as well. I may not be an expert, but I could at least talk on the subject for quite some time at a dinner party.

To learn the status of the excavation, the ship’s rich history and the path taken by its artifacts, you’ll want to check out the upcoming issue of Bonesville The Magazine. In 16 years as a journalist, I’ve discovered that my favorite stories are the ones that allow me to go deep, digging into all of the crucial facets of a story and then distilling it into a piece that will make readers excited about a subject that has become close to my heart.

(Please pardon the blatant puns in the above paragraph. Throughout this adventure, I have found nautical terms and archaeological figures of speech leaping into my consciousness like, well, fish that arch up from underneath the ocean’s surface.)

I had the privilege of learning from the above people and others, and I even spent an unforgettable June afternoon on board the QAR salvage ship. I can’t wait to share those experiences with readers who are passionate about the Pirates that wear shoulder pads on Saturdays but also have more than a passing interest in the ones that raided ships and plundered gold more than 300 years ago.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

07/31/2007 03:30:11 AM

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