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The Elizabeth II square-rigged sailing ship
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Elizabeth II in North Carolina
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Elizabeth II Ship & Roanoke Festival Park

Have you ever wondered what it was like for the colonists who sailed to the New World on a big, square-rigged ship, sailing across the ocean at the mercy of the winds and weather?

Berthed on Roanake Island, North Carolina on Manteo's picturesque waterfront, Elizabeth II is a reproduction of a 16th century sailing vessel, a composite of those used to transport colonists to the New World in the 1500's.

Every detail of the Elizabeth II is as authentic as possible. Like her namesake, Elizabeth II is a square-rigged bark with three masts. She is 69 feet long and 17 feet wide and draws 8 feet of water. Her main topmast is 65 feet tall.

Costumed interpreters depict the sailors and soldiers of the Roanoke Voyages, the sailors aboard ship, and the soldiers at a settlement site, which is a recreation of an early encampment. Visitors can see the many tasks and trades that these men had to carry out.

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Elizabeth II is working ship offering volunteer crew training. Activities include dockside work such as cleaning, rigging and painting. Classroom and on board sessions teach terminology, marlinspike seamanship, sailing maneuvers, anchoring, docking and shipboard emergencies. Crew members exercise the rig at the dock as well, giving volunteers and visitors an opportunity to see how the sails set and lines are handled. The highlight of this experience is the opportunity for training underway when Elizabeth II sails to other North Carolina ports.


Admission to Roanoke Island Festival Park includes a tour aboard the Elizabeth II sailing vessel, The Legend of Two Path film, an 8500 square foot Exhibit Hall which chronicles 400 years of Outer Banks history through interactive exhibits, and The Settlement Site, where visitors are able to interact with Elizabethan soldiers.

Also included is The Pavilion, a large outdoor theater with scheduled performances from North Carolina School of the Arts during the summer months, a Museum Store with abundant treasures, The Gallery of changing exhibits, and boardwalks which adjoin the Roanoke Island bike path.

The Lost ColonyThe Roanoke Adventure Museum is packed with 400 years of Outer Banks history that you can't find anywhere else. Enter the Rogues Gallery to learn of the English who were important players in the colonization of America. Those of all ages can dress in Elizabethan costume and learn how 16th-century sailors navigated their ships to the New World. Then enter a Native American village based on the actual drawings and observations the English made when they arrived in this strange new land. Step inside a Civil War tent and learn about the men who fought the Battle of Roanoke Island, an important battle to control the South's access to supplies from the outside world. Get a glimpse of the Freedmen's Colony, home to 3,500 freed slaves during the war. Find out if you have what it takes to work at an Outer Banks Life-saving Station as a surfman, a much-needed profession in the early 1900s, when more than 1,000 ships wrecked in the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

In the Settlement Site you can visit with the men and get a taste of how they lived and what they thought of the New World, living in their tents and constantly on the move. Try on some armor and learn 16th-century warfare techniques. Learn the arts and crafts needed to make life tolerable 400 years ago, including shoemaking, carpentry, leather works and canvas works. Soldiers demonstrate the use of swords and pole arms as well as the complicated process of firing a matchlock shoulder arm. Ask about the menu for "noon meats" or "evening sups."

The History Garden, a wooded clearing where the magic of the New World still remains, is the intimate setting for special history moments during the summer season. Join costumed interpreters to hear about the men and women who ventured to these shores. Enjoy a variety of scheduled programs, highlighted by many hands-on activities, that offer an in-depth look at specific aspects of history.

During your visit to Festival Park, linger a few moments in the history garden to hear about seafaring adventures of the men known as pirates. Investigate the lives of those who profited from making a perilous living on the open seas. Discover their motives. Enjoy the search for their true identities!

If your visit aboard Elizabeth II whet your appetite for learning more about Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth I and the expeditions of the late 1580s, join us for a closer look at the people and events that were a part of the Roanoke Voyages. Hear history revealed through the memories of men involved in the English explorations of the New World.

Elizabethan GardensAfter your trip to the park visit the nearby Elizabethan Gardens located on Roanoke Island near Manteo, adjacent to the ''Lost Colony'' waterside theatre and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The grounds are also home to period furniture and English portraits in the Gate House, ancient garden statuary and ornaments, many given by The late Honorable John Hay Whitney, former Ambassador to the Court of St. James, and Mrs. Whitney, and to a 16th Century Gazebo.

The colorful serene Gardens are home to hundreds of species of wildflowers, trees, herbs, and shrubs, as well as a substantial collection of valuable antique garden ornaments and ancient statuary, all to please the senses year-round. Masses of blooming rhododendron, tulips, azaleas and dogwoods peak in late April. Magnolias, lilies, and hydrangeas reach bloom in late July. And marigolds, impatiens, and hibiscus provide brilliant autumn color. Even a rare Outer Banks snowstorm transforms the Gardens into a winter fantasy.

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The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina, exhibits artifacts recovered from the shipwreck believed to be Blackbeard's flagship, the QAR, discovered in 1996.

The museum has a branch on Roanoke Island, just north of Rodanthe, dedicated to maritime exhibits.

Graveyard of the Atlantic maritime museum, located in Hatteras, North Carolina, is dedicated to the myriad of shipwrecks on the coasts of the Outer Banks.

Teach's Hole Blackbeard exhibit and pirate shop on Okracoke Island offers over 1000 items relating to pirates, including pirate books, pirate toys, pirate flags, pirate t-shirts, pirate maps, and other pirate wares. The exhibit features a life-sized recreation of Blackbeard the Pirate in full battle dress.