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Fast getaway for Blackbeard crew?

Artifacts from wreckage believed to be the pirate Blackbeard's flagship suggest the crew left in a hurry, but the reasons aren't clear, the director of a recovery project said Tuesday.

The staff of the North Carolina recovery project for the Queen Anne's Revenge discussed some of the artifacts Tuesday. Project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing said the seas were too rough to raise another cannon as planned. One cannon was raised last year.

He said the latest items to be displayed include part of a toilet, a coin, a trigger guard from a small gun and the hilt of a dagger. The coin and dagger hilt are the first such items found, he said.

All that's left of the toilet is a funnel-like lead tube that passed through the stern of the ship into the ocean.

Wilde-Ramsing also said the fact that cannons were left shows the crew grabbed money and other items of immediate value when they abandoned the ship after it ran aground off Beaufort Inlet in 1718. The wreck was discovered in 1996 in 20 to 25 feet of water.

“Folks took most everything off of value,” he said. “It probably went down pretty fast, and that's fortunate for us.”

Cannons and other metal items left aboard the ship could have been sold, but there were no salvage operators in those days. Now, the cannons are scattered on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with anchors and ballast stones about 15 minutes from shore.

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