Charles Vane

Story by Lois Carol Wheatley

One of the early settlers of the New Providence enclave in the Bahamas, Charles Vane set the piracy standard for many years. He stood against former pirate Woodes Rogers, turned pirate hunter, who came to town in two Royal Navy warships looking to collect some bounty. Rogers was also governor of the colony and had a pretty good idea where to look for pirates.

In a plot twist that would make Hollywood proud, Vane used a heisted French fireship to force Rogers into retreat, and escaped in a blaze of glory aboard his six-gun sloop, the Ranger, firing his cannons and vowing to return.

Apparently Vane named all his warships Ranger. By 1718 he was in a 12-gun namesake ravaging the Carolina coast, and allegedly spent a week on Ocracoke Island partying with Blackbeard. Everybody who was anybody went to those parties, and that must have made it dicey for them to later plunder and assault each other. One might think an old drinking buddy would deserve a little better than that.

After the party Vane headed north to New York and then south back down to the Caribbean, where he refused to engage a French ship in battle and his crew voted him out of office. He was replaced by Calico Jack Rackham and set adrift in a small boat, to start over at the bottom of the pirate pecking order and work his way back up the rigging again.

But he was the man in charge when a storm in February 1719 wrecked his ship—probably the Ranger—and he and one other survivor somehow made their way to a deserted island in the Bay of Honduras. Months passed, the prospects of survival appeared slim, until at last a rescue ship appeared on the horizon. The sailors picked up the two men, recognized Vane immediately, and carted him off to Jamaica to be hanged.

Terms: North Carolina Pirates, Charles Vane

Information on North Carolina Pirate Charles Vane.

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