The mystery of Blackbeard: Edward Teach or Edward Beard, may have been born in Charleston,
SC, or may have arrived in the new country with a colony of Swiss/German/English
refugees who founded New Bern. Blackbeard was an educated ocean-going sailor. He
was a pirate for about 2 years. He also frequented Charleston and Beaufort, may
have had family in Philadelphia, and eventually had a home on Bay Street in Bath,
NC, on the Pamlico River --reached via Ocracoke Inlet. Having strategically gounded
"Queen Anne's Revenge", he was 28 years old, was retired from pirating, and was
sailing a sloop "Adventure" with minimal crew when he was killed on 22 November
1718 in a naval battle at Ocracoke Inlet. His biographical facts are sparse. Bias
and distortions make most stories about him suspect. Were the cannon fuse wicks
he lit in his beard intended to terrorize? or... to keep mosquitos away? Ask the
members of the "Blackbeard Sailing Club" (a yacht club and marina in New Bern) what
Blackbeard is gone, but the awesomeness of Pamilco Sound continues to impress, and
sometimes terrorize, coastal sailors today.
The next WaterTribe BlackBeard Challenge is
Saturday, June 17, 2017. The BlackBeard
Challenge is roughly 300 miles long. It starts a few days before the NCC event but
both events finish at the same time. Be sure to check the schedule for the correct
event! There is a mandatory equipment inspection and captains meeting the day before
on Friday, June 16, 2017. Refer
to the schedule for time/date specifics.
Completion of a BlackBeard Challenge within the last Ultimate Florida cycle satsifies
the entrance requirement for the Ultimate Florida Challenge. For example, completing
BBC2016 allows entrance into UF2017. The BBC2016 is also part of the WaterTribe Trifecta.
Cost is $445.00
for the captain and $445.00 for
a crew member if any.
Billing starts Monday, May 01, 2017.
Registration ends Friday, May 19, 2017 at noon.
Payment deadline is Friday, May 19, 2017 at noon.
Due to the exteme commitment for this challenge late registration and/or late payments will not be allowed. We recommend that you commit to this challenge early so you have
plenty of time for planning, training, and preparation. Pay early in the payment
cycle. You can get a full refund up until Friday, May 19, 2017 at noon.
No refunds after that date and time.
All WaterTribe events are dangerous events as defined by law and common sense. You
are responsible for your own safety. You must read and understand
Rules and Warnings
before you register for this event. Although the warnings read
specific to Florida, they all apply to the NC environment and must be read and understood
for this event.
The BBC distance is roughly 300 miles depending on your course selection. The course for this challenge has been changed
a bit from last year. We are going back to our original starting location on Cedar Island. But due to lessons learned in previous years we are going to provide very flexible launching options as follows:
Launch from the north facing beach near the ferry landing. This is very weather dependant and is up to you. It is OK to get all setup on inspection day and then change your mind on launch day when you see huge waves crashing on the beach.
Launch from the boat ramp near the ferry landing. You will have to wait your turn just like any other boat ramp. You cannot launch if a ferry is coming in or going out. You must have a boat that could launch off the beach. You will receive a minimum half hour penalty on your starting time. In other words, we will subtract 30 minutes from the official start time and you could also have to wait for others (even non WaterTribers) to launch.
Launch from the docks near the house near the convenience store. A one hour penalty will be applied to your start time.
Launch from the boat ramp near the house near the convenience store. You still have to have a boat the could launch off the beach. No penalty will be assessed. Your start time will be adjusted to the time you get to use the ramp. Ramp access will be determined by random selection. If your name is called and you are not immediately ready to launch, you will go to the back of the list.
This will turn out to be a lot less complicated than it sounds and we will be able to adapt to a wide range of weather conditions. If the weather is good and forecasted to be good for the launch, the first option is preferred. But no matter what, you can choose any of the four options.
The course proceeds in a roughly counter-clockwise manor as shown in the tracking map.
When waypoints are shown on the tracking map, you must follow that course as shown. Typically they are there to force a filter. The waypoints are shown as general guidelines for the course. They are not intended for navigation.
There are options on which route you take going to and coming from CP1 at Alligator Marina. From the Start to CP1 you can go outside on Pamlico Sound or inside using the Alligator/Pungo Canal. The choice is strictly up to you and will probably depend on the weather and your boat. Likewise, the trip from CP1 to CP2 has the same option open to all.
The Harlowe canal is required. Options will be discussed at the captains meeting if there are blockages in the canal.
The Thorofare is required.
There are restricted areas along the route. You must mark these areas on your charts and be well aware of their location and rules. Some of these areas are used for bombing, shelling, and strafing practice. Be sure to chart a course that leaves plenty of room for these areas.
There is an
overall maximum time limit of approximately 7 days.
BBC2016 Tracking Map
The link above will take you to the tracking map which is the best way to view the course.
Note: The table includes waypoints for both the BlackBeard Challenge (BBC) and
the North Carolina Challenge (NCC).
The BBC is run as an unsupported, expedition-style adventure races for kayaks, canoes
and small boats. Your safety and well being are completely up to you. You should be an expert kayaker and/or sailor before you consider this challenge.
Although this event is not an open ocean race, the location is coastal, subject
to the same weather patterns and conditions one finds beyond the narrow barrier
islands and impacting the shallow sounds.
Unsupported means that there are no safety boats or support crews to help you during
the race. You are not allowed to have a support crew follow you or meet you during
the race. It is okay to have family or friends meet you at the official checkpoint,
but they cannot provide anything other than emotional support. See the official
WaterTribe Rules for more details.
Expedition-style means that you should carry the same type of equipment and supplies
that you would carry on a major expedition. Camping equipment, food, water, safety,
communication means, etc. is required. Please read the WaterTribe Challenge Equipment
List (in the Rules PDF), which details required equipment for a Challenge. For either
event, please choose your equipment needs carefully. Everyone must also carry all
safety equipment as specified by the Coast Guard, local regulations and common sense.
In addition, all boats in this challenge are also required to carry a SPOT device
with or without the tracking feature. Please read the instructions for Spot Setup
and Usage for WaterTribe events.
Although this is a race, many participants are more interested in cruising and adventure.
Whether you are a cruiser or racer is up to you; time allows for both. Just getting
to the starting line is a major accomplishment, and many starters will not finish.
A banquet lunch and award ceremony for the BBC will take place Sunday beginning at about 10:30 at the House on Cedar Island.
You basically have four choices for accommodations during these NC events:
Weather and sea conditions including current and historical data can be found at
Registration, Waivers, Float Plans -
Friday, June 16, 2017
Is Mandatory .
Gear Inspection -
Friday, June 16, 2017
Is Mandatory .
BBC Race -
Saturday, June 17, 2017 to
Sunday, June 25, 2017.
Both the BlackBeard Challenge (BBC) and the NC Challenge (NCC) start and finish at Cedar Island.
Please Note: Although these events start and finish at the same location,
the start dates are different. The finish dates are the same.
Inspection day for the BBC is Saturday.
Inspection day for the NCC is Thursday.
There is a Captains meeting at 15:00 on Inspection Day for both events. Attendance is mandatory. This will be
held at the House on Ditch Path Drive near the Island Choice general store.
NOTE: If you arrive late and give us notice of your late arrival, you may still participate.
As long as you complete gear inspection and check in with a race official before you launch
you can still enter. Your time however, will not be adjusted for a late start.
You have four starting options that are outlined in the Overview. Choose wisely according to the
weather and your boat.
Although you have four options for the start, the finish is at the House.
CP1 is a virtual checkpoint. You must hit your OK or Custom button within about 1 mile of the lat/lon for this CP. You
do not have to enter the marina in order to checkin. Of course, you may enter the marina if you wish and pay their normal docking
or ramp fees. They do have a very good short order grill there that could make a stop very enjoyable. Also, note that you do not
have to go under the bridge either. Your OK or Custom button will be recognized within 1 mile of the checkpoint. I do recommend
that you hang out within that 1 mile until your OK or Custom light stops flashing.
CP1 is located at the immediate North West corner of the Alligator River bridge
off highway 64 at the mouth of the Alligator River and the Albemarle Sound. Depending
on your route, you will have reached this either by:
Your next leg to CP3 can also take any of the above routes.
CP1 is a refueling port for yachts on the ICW heading to or from wintering in Florida.
The CP contains a small boat ramp, docks, Shell gas station, convenience store,
and a short order grill. The boat ramp and parking area must be kept clear
at all times so clear the ramp as fast as possible. Larger boats may need to be assigned dock space.
The Boat Captain (you) will work this out with the marina.
The Alligator River Bridge is a 2.8 mile long swing bridge with closed vertical
clearance of 14 ft at the center. This bridge will not open in high winds (35+ kts)
or reduced visibility (they are afraid cars won’t see the stop lights), there are
no set standards it is up to the bridge tenders discretion. The bridge opens on
demand VHF channel 13.
There is a large grassy field to camp, but you must get permission from the managers. If you are given permission
to camp, we ask all to be considerate of the owner Ms Wanda (who lives on the property) and her other clients
by being quiet at night.
CP1 is located along the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge, composed of 152,00
acres, 28 miles from north to south and 15 miles east to west and lying in North
Carolina’s Coastal Plane. It is bordered on the West by the Alligator River and
the Intracoastal Waterway, which is crossed by the 2.8 mile bridge on the North
by Albemarle Sound, on the coast by Croatan and Pamlico Sounds, and on the South
by Long Shoal River and incorporated farmland.
The refuge is one of the premier strongholds for American Black Bear on the Eastern
Seaboard. It also has concentrations of ducks, geese and swans. The wildlife diversity
includes wading ducks, shorebirds, American Woodcock, raptors, American Alligators,
White-tailed Deer, Raccoons, Cottontail rabbits, Bobwhite Quail, Northern river
Otters, Red Wolves, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and neotropical migrants.
The refuge was established to preserve and protect the unique wetland habitat type
– the pocosin – and it’s associated wildlife species. Pocosin is a Native-American
word meaning "swamp-on-a-hill" and is characterized by poorly drained soils high
in organic materials.
Diversity of habitat types including high and low pocosin, bogs, fresh and brackish
water marshes, hardwood swamps, and Atlantic white cedar swamps. Plant species include
pitcher plants and sun dews, low bush cranberries, bays, Atlantic white cedar, pond
pine, gums, red maple, and a wide variety of herbaceous and shrub species common
to the East Coast.
Nyssa Aquatica Tree in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Pamlico Sound, is the largest lagoon along the U.S. East Coast, 80 mi long and 15
to 30 miles wide. It is a body of water separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the
Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands, including Cape Hatteras. The Neuse
and Pamlico rivers (the latter is the estuary of the Tar River) flow in from the
west. Pamlico Sound is linked on the north with Albemarle Sound through Roanoke
Sound and Croatan Sound. Core Sound is the narrow southern end.
Explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano mistook the sound for the Pacific Ocean. The sound
and its ocean inlets are noted for wide expanses of shallow water and occasional
shoaling, making the area hazardous for larger vessels. In addition, the shallow
waters are susceptible to wind and barometric pressure-driven tidal fluctuations.
This effect is amplified on the tributary rivers, where water levels can change
by as much as two feet in three hours when winds are aligned with the rivers'
axes and are blowing strongly.
Pamlico Sound is part of a large, interconnected network of lagoon estuaries. As
a whole it is the second largest estuary in the United States; (Chesapeake Bay is
the largest). Seven sounds making up the whole: Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound,
Croatan Sound, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Core Sound, and Roanoke Sound.
Upon leaving CP1 you’ll travel back to CP2 using either the inside route or
the outside route. The choice is yours.
CP2 is a virtual CP so you can either send and OK or Custom Message at the entrance canal or you can go into the
marina located at
Boatyard in Hobucken on Goose Creek Island.
CP2 can be reached by entering the Bay River and finding
the ICW, or by entering Jones Bay. There are a number of little cuts one can take
in and out of Goose Creek Island; beware, some of these are private and gated, most
derive from an old and abandoned Corps of Engineers project for mosquito control
in the 1960’s. Yes, there are lots of BIG mosquitoes on Goose Creek Island; there
are also lots of black bears.
At Pate’s Boatyard, there is a small boat ramp and docks at the end of the canal
on the right. Challengers will be able to tent camp and refill water. There is also
a small convenience store next door.
A bit of history of Pate Boatyard can be found in this blog posting
In more recent history, Goose Creek Island was devastated by Hurricane Irene in
2011 with 90% of all homes flooded. There are markers inside the Boathouse indicating
the flood’s high water mark.
Click the pictures for a larger view.
Pate Boatyard (photo credit: Steve Earley)
Pate Marina Backside (bear right to docks and boat ramp) (photo credit: Steve Earley)
The canal in and out of Pate Boatyard (photo credit: Steve Early)
This CP is located on Taylor Creek in the center of the historic Beaufort waterfront. This checkpoint
is used for both the BBC and the NCC.
Beaufort, pronounced ''Bo-furt'' by locals, is the third oldest town in the state
with a rich maritime history. This quaint town was originally established in 1709
for its close proximity to the excellent deep-water inlet now called Beaufort Inlet.
Throughout history, Beaufort has always been an important seaport for whalers, fisherman,
merchants and even pirates. In fact, the notorious pirate Blackbeard and his crew
spent quite a bit of time in Beaufort, and their legacy still remains in the form
of the many legends and ghost stories that are still told.
In 1997, Beaufort was highlighted in national and international news as the wreckage
of what is presumed to be Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered
in 20 feet of water, two miles from Beaufort Inlet. Artifact recovery operations
were immediately able to identify—and in some cases retrieve—many pieces, including
the ship's bronze bell, cannons and deck guns. Some of these artifacts are already
touring the country or are on exhibit in Beaufort at the NC Maritime Museum.
The Harlowe canal is the required route and is entered thru Clubfoot Creek off
the Neuse River, and is the old original Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), located west
of the current ICW, connecting the Neuse River with the Morehead City and Beaufort
waterfronts. Known locally as the Slave Canal because it was deepened to five or
six feet by slave labor, the Harlowe is one of the oldest canals in the United Sates,
originally created untold centuries ago by Indians who dragged their canoes across
the lowlands to the Neuse.
The canal is narrow but deep enough for most boats (but take care with the shallow twists and turns
entering and exiting the canal), with three bridges that will require the sailboats
to step their masts. Beautiful and tree-lined, the Western side of the canal is
part of the Croatan National Forest. There is some tidal influence on the southern
side and from wind effects on the Neuse.
Upon leaving the Harlow Canal into the Newport River towards Beaufort, you will
be entering an area of very busy boat traffic and possibly strong tidal currents.
Morehead City and Beaufort are sound side seaports situated on opposite banks of
the Newport River. Both are very busy commercial, recreational and fishing ports.
You’ll need to go under a car bridge exiting the Newport River and entering Beaufort.
The NCC checkpoint (just a few hundred yards down the street from the NC Maritime
Museum) is located on the historic waterfront of Beaufort’s Taylors Creek at Graden Paul
Park, WP3. The park contains a small public canoe and kayak beach landing
and a small public dock for the larger boats. Sailboats coming into the dock must
come in on the starboard side as entering. There are no public facilities at the
park, however there are water spigots and hoses all around the nearby docks (walk
to your left up Front St), and a public restroom a few hundred yards left up Front
St (at the end of the marina), not to mention some nice (yet expensive) seafood
restaurants and tourist shops, if you’ve got the time :)
An ORANGE LOCKBOX will be located in the gazebo. In the ORANGE LOCKBOX
you will find a logbook for each challenge. You must sign the logbook and fill out
each section adjacent to your name in the.
Opposite the checkpoint across from Taylor’s Creek, the string of small islands
(pictured below)—Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal and Horse Island—more than
three miles long and less than a mile wide—include the Rachel Carson Reserve, part
of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve. Accessible
by boat only, visitors are allowed and there are even walking trails. But, NO CAMPING
is allowed and this is strictly enforced. As you pass by these islands, you are
likely to see the small herd of feral horses which roam the island, and many of
the 200 bird species which have been recorded there.
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