Flaming Ship of Ocracoke
Ocracoke Island is overflowing with myths and legends. After all, it was the home of the infamous Blackbeard the pirate. Part of the Outer Banks, the island is also part of an area known for being one of the most dangerous places on earth for ships, The Graveyard of the Atlantic.
While there are other ghosts associated with The Graveyard of the Atlantic, The Flaming Ship of Oracoke is different in the sense that residents claim it keeps coming back, year after year like clockwork. The start of the story is a tale of greed, betrayal and revenge.
During the wars between the Protestants and Catholics, the armies of King Louis the 14th were retreating through the German countryside, destroying everything in their path. It was then that 10,000 German 'Palantines' as they were called left their homes and converged on England in an attempt to find peace.
The British were accommodating at first, but it was too long before they started looking for a way to rid themselves of their German visitors. At the same time, Queen Elizabeth was looking for ways to colonize the new word. Before too long, the problem met the solution and boatloads of german peasants were on their way to what would become North Carolina.
What is not well known is that not all of the travelers were poor. Some, even though they were homeless, carried with them jewels and coins that they managed to hide from the armies that had invaded their homeland. However, even though they were wealthy, they took great measures to hide this from the crews of the ships they traveled on and did everything they could to appear poor.
So it happened on the last day of the voyage, before sunrise that the ship landed at Ocracoke Inlet. The Germans were awake and excited at the promise of a new life. They came on deck from below and thinking they were going to depart, brought with them their chests and belongings.
Unfortunately for them, the captain of the ship was a former pirate. While he had had taken the "King's Oath", the treasure he saw was too much for him to pass up. After speaking with his crew, he conceived a plan to separate the Germans from their wealth.
The captain told his passengers that there was a mix up with their next boats and that he would take care of it by the next morning. He instructed them to go back below deck and to rest up for tomorrows journey. They did as they were told and went back to their quarters as the captain waved off several boats who had came to take the passengers ashore.
That night, the first full moon of September show brightly as the crew crept down into the passenger area and slaughtered every man woman and child. The horrible deed done, the crew divided the treasure among themselves on deck. Then, they lowered themselves into a lifeboat and headed for shore. Before they had gone however, they lit a fire of rags and chests near the main mast giving credibility to the story of disaster they planned to tell when they got to land.
As they rowed to the island, the captain looked back and was shocked at what he saw. The fire had spread quicker than they had planned. All the sails were engulfed with fire and the winds had picked up and were carrying the ship, not out to sea as the captain had expected, but right for him and his crew in the longboat.
From below the decks of the ship came screams and moans of pain. The ghosts of the recently deceased were out to get their revenge on those that had killed them. The ship collided with the lifeboat, rolling over it and spilling the crew into the water. Most of the crew drowned that night, although a few are said to have washed ashore hours later clinging to pieces of debris from the longboat. The ship then turned course, without a living soul at the helm and headed northeast as the pirates had intended.
It is said that they ship appears every year on the night of the first full moon in September. Always in flames and always headed northeast, the sounds and moans from the deck making those who see it cringe. Those who have seen it claim it makes 3 runs per night. Starting near the shore and headed out until it's barely visible, only to reappear near shore again.
Only one piece of the Germans treasure was ever said to wash ashore. And so the Flaming Ship of Ocracoke will keep sailing every year, trying to find the home they were so close to reaching.