The Outer Banks of North Carolina could not be any prouder to add another chapter to its history which includes the Lost Colony, Blackbeard, and the first flight of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Ocracoke Inlet is now ground zero for the story of the real Treasure Island.
A Spanish fleet left Havana,Cuba, on August 18, 1750. The seven ships encountered a hurricane off of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and were driven up the coast of North America. Four of the seven ships were wrecked in North Carolina and Virginia but the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe came safely to anchor fifteen miles south of Ocracoke Inlet. She had lost her masts and rudder and was unable to proceed any further but it seemed that the million dollar cargo was safe, at least temporarily.
Captain Juan Manuel Bonilla hired Owen Lloyd and his one-legged brother, John, two merchant captains from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to tow his galleon into Ocracoke. Once that was accomplished, the captain had to fend off the Bankers who wanted to seize the treasure as well as North Carolina customs officials, and even his mutinous crew. The treasure was unloaded onto two sloops which had come in to trade. Bonilla’s intention was to ship his treasure to Norfolk, Virginia.
On October 18, Captain Bonilla left for New Bern to meet with the governor leaving armed guards on the sloops and ordered them to remove the sails. His mutinous boatswain, Pedro Rodriguez, had plans of his own to steal the money.
Owen Lloyd had a very narrow window of opportunity, so October 20, 1750, he raised the sails while the Spaniards were having lunch. He cleared the treacherous shoals of the inlet and made it to Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands where he buried his loot on November 13. One hundred years later on this day Robert Louis Stevenson was born. History now shows that the history of the real Treasure Island began at Ocracoke.