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Why do they call it Topsail Island?

Chris Mazzolini

As legend has it, pirates – those sneaky scallywags – used to hide in the inlets near the island and ambush unsuspecting merchant vessels as they made their way up and down the coast. Knowing this, wary sailors kept their eyes peeled for topsails as they made their way past the island. The topsail, it seems, was the only part of a lurking pirate ship visible above the sand dunes and scrub. So folks began calling it Topsail Island, and the name apparently stuck.

Oh, and if you pronounce it “Top-SAIL,” the locals will peg you for an outsider. If you want to blend in, call it “Top-SUL.”

A popular vacation destination, Topsail Island has three towns: Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail Beach. For more info about the island, visit the Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce.

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2 Responses to “ Why do they call it Topsail Island?”

  1. On February 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm bohump wrote:

    Sorry, you’r wrong. The island’s name came from New Topsail Inlet and the original Topsail inlet is what’s now called Beaufort Inlet. Check out some old charts and you will find this is true. Back in the 1920’s to the 1940’s it was called Pender Beach and was separated from Onslow County by Stumpy Inlet. How do I know? Lived here for 65 years.

  2. On June 5, 2016 at 10:14 pm Liz wrote:

    But why is it mispronounced?

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