Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nothing to fear along N.C. coast

From the Toronto Sun:

Cape Fear. The mere name conjures images of shipwrecks, churning seas and plundering pirates. Indeed, this rugged coastal region of the United States delivers all three, plus more -- an ideal playground for vacationing families.

Located about one hour north of the hustle and kitsch of Myrtle Beach, S.C., North Carolina's Cape Fear coast offers a quieter version of wide beaches and pounding Atlantic surf, paired with an eclectic history of sunken ships, smugglers and genteel southern charm.

Early settlers named the coast for the havoc it wreaked on approaching ships. Shifting sand shoals made it tricky for merchant vessels to navigate the Cape Fear River, which snakes inland from the Atlantic to Wilmington (once a major trading centre), striking fear in the hearts of captains and crews. Pirates in shallow-draft boats took advantage of the wrecks, plundering the ships and selling the pilfered goods in street markets.

One of Cape Fear's most feared pirates was the infamous Stede Bonnet, known as The Gentleman Pirate because of his vast collection of books aboard his pirate ship. Bonnet was hanged for his crimes in 1718, but not before escaping prison at least once dressed as a woman!

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