Blackbeard’s pirate ship gives up its anchor

pirate, pirates, Blackbeard
A pirate ship owned by the notorious Blackbeard is being investigated by archaeologists, who have just retrieved one of its anchors.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge, was grounded in 1718 while trying to enter Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. Blackbeard had just come from blockading Charleston until he received a ransom. Currently the wreck lies in only 20 feet of water, as easily accessible to archaeologists as Captain Kidd’s pirate ship, which will soon become an underwater museum.

The anchor, which is 11 feet long and weighs 2,200 lbs, is only one of thousands of artifacts recovered from the ship in recent years.

While Blackbeard transferred to another of his ships and continued pirating, he didn’t survive for long. He was hunted down and killed in a fierce fight in late 1718, shown here in a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Blackbeard was decapitated and his head hung from the bowsprit.

Blackbeard was one of the kinder pirates. There’s no record that he hurt his captives or his crew. He could be violent when opposed, though, and in reality no pirate fit the heroic adventurer stereotype of Hollywood and Johnny Depp. That’s just a romanticism. One wonders what tales people will spin about the Somali pirates 300 years from now.

For more information about this amazing dig, check out The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project’s website.

Daily Pampering: Betrothal Butlers at Woodlands Inn help you pop the question

Betrothal ButlersPlanning to pop the question? Woodlands Inn, a five-star, five-diamond Salamander Hospitality property in Summerville, South Carolina (just a short drive from Charleston) has enlisted a team of Betrothal Butlers to be at your beck and call as you plan your perfect proposal.

This special service is launching for Valentine’s Day, but will be available throughout 2011, so if you’re considering an “engagement-cation” this year, but overwhelmed by the planning it requires, this may be exactly what you need! Here’s just some of what the Betrothal Butlers can do to help in this gorgeously traditional setting:

  • Provide expert advice with all aspects of proposal planning. People propose at hotels all the time. These guys know what’s up and what works best.
  • Special delivery of the ring. Hiding the ring can be hugely stressful when all you’ve got is a suitcase. Let the Betrothal Butlers help you out — they can even deliver the ring in a glass of champagne, movie-style.
  • Creative dinner menu choices. Obviously, you want your beloved to have pretty much the best dinner ever. Inject extra romance with personalized selections.
  • Capture the moment on camera. So many of us wish the moment of our engagement could have been captured on camera! The Betrothal Butlers are totally on this. And they’re discreet.

The Betrothal Butler service is complimentary for dining and overnight guests of Woodlands Inn — and we love its formalization as a “service;” sometimes you feel like you’re driving a hotel crazy or like you’re the first person who’s ever requested help with a proposal when asking for help. This is one of those few situations where you do deserve special treatment, and so does your intended!

If you are intending to head to Woodlands Inn for Valentine’s Day, they have a Romance Package for Febraury 11-14, which includes overnight accommodations, champagne and chocolate upon arrival, a three-course dinner for two with wine, and breakfast for two the next morning (in the room or the resturant) starting at $599. Not too shabby. Call (800) 774-9999 to book the package.

Marriott introduces first LEED green hotel prototype

South Carolina is now home to the first Marriott LEED green hotel prototype. The Courtyard Charleston/Summerville will be the hotel’s flagship green property, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The new Courtyard hotel will open in early 2010 and will introduce the first phase of The Parks of Berkley, a community consisting of 5,000 acres and one of the largest planned developments in the Southeastern United States.

Marriott has set its sights on 300 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) hotels by 2015, and all the hotels to come will follow the South Carolina prototype. Last fall, the hotel group announced plans to develop a green hotel prototype for its Courtyard brand that will save roughly $100,000, six months in design time, and up to 25 percent energy and water savings for its owners.

Currently, Marriott has nearly 50 hotels across all brands that are LEED-certified or registered by the USGBC, including:

  • The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott at the University of Maryland, the first LEED-certified hotel in North America
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte in North Carolina, LEED Gold-certified
  • Courtyard Chevy Chase in Maryland, LEED Gold-certified
  • Courtyard Portland City Center in Oregon, LEED Gold-certified
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Baltimore Downtown/Inner Harbor, LEED Gold-certified
  • Atlanta Marriott Gateway, applying for LEED certification upon opening
  • SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles LA Live, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles at LA Live, LEED-registered, applying for certification
  • The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe, in Nevada applying for certification
  • TownePlace Suites Baltimore BWI Airport, applying for LEED-Existing Building certification

Five essential Memorial Day destinations

Memorial Day marks the cultural beginning of summer, the start of the warm months. The picnics and the parties and the celebration of the impending summer have sort of become the point of Memorial Day for many, a kind of superimposition of recreation over the intention of the holiday.

We love beer and hot dogs as much as the next guy, but for those interested in the history and meaning (or, in destination 5 below, the traditional pageantry) of Memorial Day, here are five destinations for Monday that might prompt greater reflection on the holiday itself.

1. Charleston, South Carolina. Hampton Park in Charleston was once the site of the Washington Race Course, which served as prison camp for Union soldiers in the last year of the Civil War. Here, in 1865, former slaves provided a proper burial and commemoration of fallen Union soldiers, followed by sermons, prayer, and picnics, under the name of Decoration Day. Yale history professor David W. Blight has championed this event as the first ever Memorial Day celebration.

2. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. About five miles from State College, Boalsburg is one of a number of other locations claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. Tiny Boalsburg is also home to the Pennsylvania Military Museum.

3. Waterloo, New York. Waterloo, in the Finger Lakes region, hosts the National Memorial Day Museum. Waterloo was recognized by the federal government as the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966, one hundred years after the city first celebrated the event.

4. Arlington, Virginia. Arlington National Cemetery is the arguably the best-known cemetery in the US. Administered by the Department of the Army, the cemetery hosts a National Memorial Day Observance open to the general public on a first-come first-seated basis. Admission is free.

5. Speedway, Indiana or Concord, North Carolina. While stock car racing can’t be tied to the history of Memorial Day, these two iconic races (the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway) have coincided with the holiday for decades, and have in turn become Memorial Day tradition. The Indianapolis 500 was first held on Memorial Day in 1911, and the Coca Cola 600 dates back to 1960.

35 fantastic U.S. beaches for Summer

Summer is fast approaching. Where are you going to spend your vacation? How about visiting one of our country’s many fantastic beach locations? Bring your lover or family, a bathing suit, sun lotion, a blanket and a picnic basket, and you are all set for a romantic get-away or a relaxing family get-together on one of these magnificent sandy stretches. Wondering if we picked one of your favorites? Take a look below!

Delray Beach, Florida

Delray boasts a great family-friendly stretch of sand, with youngsters playing Frisbee games and teens surfing the waves. Enjoy the well-preserved dunes and the warm, snow-white sand and comforting turquoise water. After a day on the beach, take a stroll in the European-style town and dine at the sidewalk bistros.

Mexico Beach, Florida
Mexico Beach is located on Florida’s panhandle near St. Joseph Bay and Cape San Blas on the Gulf of Mexico about 30 miles east of Panama City. This secret, romantic location is still mostly free of the crowds because it is exceedingly hard to get to. Enjoy long stretches of rosy-white sand and crystal blue water.

Kauapea Beach, Hawaii

Kauapea Beach is the most spectacular of all beaches in Hawaii and also one well-known for nudists. The cliffs and plantation in the background are stunning, and the beach is covered with pinkish-yellowish sand, stretching into warm cuddling bluish-greenish water. Though nudity is illegal on all beaches in Hawaii, the laws are rarely enforced. To get there you need to hike down a dirt road and then down a narrow trail from Kalihiwai Road, just about half a mile North of Kilauea on Rt. 56. Consummate your relationship in the most ravishing and breathtaking scenery in the US.Ocracoke Island Beach, North Carolina
You will need to take a ferry boat from Hatteras Island to get there, unless you own a private helicopter. The degree of isolation afforded by Ocracoke is a big part of its appeal. There is an aura of natural beauty surrounding Ocracoke Island, which features miles of silvery sand and surf that have been well protected.

Wildcat Beach, California

Wildcat Beach is located 30 minutes from San Francisco. A 5-minute hike is all that’s required to reach this sandy gem. Take a soothing stroll hand-in-hand bare-footed on long stretches of ivory sand facing a turquoise and tranquil Pacific Ocean.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is located on the central east coast of Florida, south on I-95. Enjoy long stretches of white sand, free of the crowds and noise. This is probably also one of the least polluted beaches in Florida. Perfect for a romantic getaway, pre-baby furlough or fertility vacation.

– The above was written by Berit Brogaard, Seed contributor.

Poipu Beach, Hawaii
Say “aloha” to paradise at beautiful Poipu Beach on the South shore of Kauai. This island retreat gets the vote for best exotic getaway in the U.S. White sand beaches are decorated with enough lush tropical foliage to make Jimmy Buffet jealous. Visitors often find themselves overwhelmed by the beach’s wealth of activities, many of which include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, surfing, deep-sea fishing and horseback riding.

Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island is located just off the mainland of Florida’s west coast. Though tourism has increased in recent years, Sanibel still retains much of its natural appeal. Green palm trees set a background for the pristine white sand of Sanibel – all of which is complimented by the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. For beach-goers who want to do more than soak up the sun, a variety of activities including golf, tennis, shopping and boating are available to islanders.

South Padre Island, Texas
If you are like most, when you think Texas, the beach is not the first thing to come to mind. However, the Lone Star State is more than just cowboy hats and barbecue. South Padre Island is a stretch of land near Corpus Christi that draws thousands of visitors every year. With a beachside waterpark, parasailing, resort accommodations and enough sandy coastline to last for days, the beaches of South Padre make for an ideal weekend vacay.

Catalina Island, California
Catalina Island is a SoCal dream. Known as “the island of romance,” honeymooners are swept away by the privacy and romance that Catalina offers. Luxurious resorts with ocean-view suites are scattered throughout the island’s shores. Some resorts offer access to champagne, strawberries, chocolates, spa services and even glass-bottom boat tours. Whales and dolphins are no strangers to the area, and couples can view marine wildlife at its best on one of Catalina’s underwater sea excursions via semi-submersible submarine. After a long day at the beach, relax with an intimate couple’s massage or an evening bike ride on a bicycle built for two.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Beach season in Maine may be fleeting, but award-winning Old Orchard Beach in Maine has families visiting its shores year-round. The area has a distinct community atmosphere that seems to make time slow down. A traditional pier darts into the waters where families can peruse shops and eat seafood at seaside restaurants. At the center of it all is Palace Playland, a beach side amusement park popular with the kids. Seven miles of white sand exude Old Orchard’s 200 year history as one of the top beaches in Maine.

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Travel to the northwestern corner of the U.S. and visit Cannon Beach, Oregon, a serene encounter with nature and the arts. The premier attraction is Haystack Rock which is said to be the third largest monolith in the world. Towering a staggering 235 feet high, more than 2,000 birds nest on the rock and large amount of delicate sea life resides below it. The beaches here are unusually wide and stretch a lengthy nine miles. Beach comers can browse through the shops that line the beach and select souvenirs amongst an endless supply of homemade crafts and works of art.

Malibu Beach, California
If you are looking for the beach to see and be seen, look no further than Malibu Beach. One of the most popular beaches in the world, Malibu Beach draws even the biggest celebrities to its vigorously maintained coastline. The likes of David Letterman, Tom Hanks and Demi Moore are known to have called Malibu home in addition to many others. The beaches of Malibu are great for morning runs, family picnics and intimate seaside gatherings, and getting a glimpse of your favorite silver screen actor is a welcome bonus.

Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach, or PCB as the locals call it, is a descended upon by thousands of college students looking to make the most of their spring break vacations each year. Keg parties and white t-contests rule the day, and bars, nightclubs and restaurants offer a variety of entertainment when the sun goes down. It is not unusual to encounter film crews from networks such as MTV looking to promote spring break programming. Though the beach is popular with families year-round, you may want to avoid bringing the kids along during spring break.

Galveston Beach, Texas
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the gulf coast allows for the best shell collecting in all of North America. Galveston Beach, which is already popular with tourists due to its large indoor waterpark and Moody Gardens, offers premier shelling – especially when windy cool fronts from the North push the waters back, revealing an abundance of natural shells ripe for the picking. Children and parents alike will love scouring the shores for these tiny treasures.

Biscayne National Park, Florida
Snorkeling is perhaps the most popular water sport because it requires virtually no skill and minimal physical requirements. Biscayne National Park in southern Florida is home to the best snorkeling in the U.S. Snorkelers observe entire underwater ecosystems, coral reefs, pirate shipwrecks and colorful marine wildlife. Unlike most national parks, Biscayne is 95 percent underwater and is highly preserved due to the government’s stringent protection of the park.

– The above was written by Allison Westbrook, Seed contributor.

Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
Hanalei Bay’s location is somewhat off the beaten path of the Hawaiian islands. Yet this beach offers vacation seekers adventure within a wide-assortment of activities including surfing, canoe rides, stand-up paddle and surfboard rentals. Lined with palm trees, and covered with white sands. This beach sits between a backdrop of stunning waterfalls and green mountains which stretch across the sky-line of Hanalei Bay. The 2-mile coast is home to spectacular plant and animal life, and gets more rain than any other Hawaiian island.

Siesta Beach, Florida

Consistently rated as a top 10 beach in the USA, Siesta Beach holds some of the finest, whitest sand in the world. Soft to the touch, these unpolluted sands are a tourists delight, as the county of Sarasota takes extra care in making sure the sands stay clean. Off shore, there are amazing coral reefs, supply recreational opportunities, for snorkelers including unique underwater formations. Siesta Beach, attract snorkelers and scuba divers as the warm crystal clean water is ideal for swimming. The beaches extra wide shore is ideal for sports and fun activities.

Cooper’s Beach, New York
New York, Cooper’s Beach is surrounded by large sand dunes, dotted with long beach grass. The beach sand is made of grainy white-quartz sand, (dark brown in color). What makes Cooper’s Beach particularly special is the view – when night comes, the moon shines off the water and is very romantic.

Coronado Beach, California

Coronado Beach has lush subtropical vegetation, a Mediterranean climate, and a warm and mild surf. The Hotel de Coronado, a local landmark, was built more than a hundred years ago. This timeless treasure offers “spectacular” architecture. Coronado Beach’s sunsets are truly spiritual, when viewing the San Diego shore-line. Seeing the sunshine collide with ocean, is so amazing. The climate is warm and the air is truly freshening.

Hamoa Beach, Hawaii
Who could turn down a beach once frequented by writer Ernest Hemingway? Ranked as one of the world’s best beaches, Hamoa Beach includes a coral-and-lava-sand shore, rimmed by tall cliffs. Hamoa Beach is covered with coconut palms and “beautiful” flowering vegetation. The beach has unbelievable waves, which attract thrill seeker surfers, from around the world.

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
If you want to see what a beach looked like when the native Americans inhabited the region, Cape Hatteras is the place. With its historic fishing villages and some of the best surfing along the East Coast. Cape Hatteras was the first U.S. National Seashore, designated as coastal areas for preservation. Make sure you bring insect repellent the sand fleas and mosquitoes are ferocious. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse, is the most famous lighthouse in the country. The lighthouse has 257 steps and is 210 feet tall.

Cape Florida State Park, Florida

A large offshore sand shoal makes the emerald-colored waters off Cape Florida State Park ideal for swimming, humans, and sea life. You can watch –sea turtles, swimming near the shore. The Cape Florida Lighthouse allows for a breathtaking view of this beautiful beach. There are coral reefs, which divers can explore year around. The beach has a romantic, appeal and allows lovers to go on sunset strolls.

Coast Guard Beach, Massachusetts
Accessible only by bike or shuttle bus. Coast Guard Beach of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has a ponderous view and soft sand that slopes down to the water’s edge. If you visitor, swimming is only feasible during the summer. Water temperatures get no warmer than 65 to 70 degrees. Coast Guard Beach is named, after the old Coast Guard station, it offers an astonishing, view of the bay.

Beachwalker Park, South Carolina
Beachwalker Park is a public beach with an abundance of recreational resources. Visitors can canoe and kayak through the tidal inlets. The beach is home to thousands of birds. Individuals can walk along the compact sand of the 10-mile barrier island. Those who love fishing can catch amazing shrimp, big enough to eat and even large eatable game fish, frequent the shore-line. The sun is heavy and the surf is smooth and calming. At night, walking the beach, stir at the moonlight and share an unique experience where phytoplankton, luminosities the sand.

– The above was written by Bryan DeLoatch, Seed contributor.

Assateague National Seashore, Virginia
Four wheelers and surf fishermen can ride side by side with the famous wild horses. Like other Atlantic beaches, the surf is kind to swimmers. Maryland’s Ocean City is a short drive to the North for plenty of food and fun for adults and kids.

East Atlantic Beach, New York

Like many overlooked Atlantic beaches, “EAB” is vast and wide. Weekdays are quiet, giving this expansive stretch an exclusive vibe. The neighboring “West End” rocks with restaurants and bars that feature cold drinks, hot crowds and great live music. Less than an hour from New York City as well.

Deerfield Beach, Florida
This South Florida spot is the perfect “grab a book” escape. Somehow the water at Deerfield Beach manages to be a perfect 78 degrees. Great cocktails (and shrimp cocktail) at one of the little food shacks that line the boardwalk. You can also rent a bike to cruise A1A and check out the trendy scene in nearby Delray.

Andrew Molera State Park, California
Right off the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway. Set up camp, then hike dense trails that lead to the dramatic bluffs and cul de sacs of this Northern California coastal gem. Wildlife (deer, seals, sea turtles) can all be seen in abundance either at sunrise or sunset.

Ditch Plains, New York.
Low key and hassle-free, Ditch Plains, located on the far Eastern tip of Long Island, is literally “The End.” The local beaches are home to world-class east coast surfing and Hamptons celebrities galore. Paul McCartney’s a regular, but only because no one bothers him. One of the best food trucks in the country holds court in the parking lot.

Hailewa Beach, Hawaii
Hale’iwa Beach is one of Hawaii’s great surfing Meccas. In winter, be awed as the pros and hardcore locals take on the 50-70 footers (The ground literally shakes when the waves hit the beach). The rest of the year is safe for swimming, kayaking and snorkeling. The perfect blue water and crystal white sand are true paradise.

Sea View Beach, Massachusetts
Sea View Beach is another lesser known Atlantic Coast gem. Wide and quiet with gorgeous bluffs. Legendary surf fishing and pods of dolphin are a normal occurrence. The expansive quietude makes this spot quintessential Cape Cod. Great shopping and eating on adjacent Route 28.

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia is among the East Coast’s more popular national parks, but the beaches are underrated and transcendent. Rugged hikes spill out onto the most Northeastern point in the United States. The town of Arcadia Bar Harbor is authentic and bustling with great food and nightlife.

South Beach, Florida
South Beach is probably the only” mega-star” on our list. Crank up Pet Sounds, slip on the shades, take the top down on Collins Ave. and let the rest speak for itself. You’ve arrived.

– The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

Oval Beach, Michigan
The Atlantic and Pacific Coast beaches of America usually get all the love, but the state of Michigan boasts some of the longest stretches of prime beach you’ll find anywhere in America. Head for the state’s Western shore bordering Lake Michigan where you’ll find lovely beach gems like Saugatuck Michigan’s Oval Beach. Not only is this beach consistently named among America’s best, the lovely sand dunes and beautiful sunsets will have you in beach heaven. Midwest beach lovers represent!