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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Pirate Adventures
Updated 20 April 2017

Suppose ye be wantin’ pirate adventures?  In this here modern time where pirates rarely prey in Atlantic and Caribbean waters, wherever can a pirate lass or laddie find fun-filled treasures?
2017 Adventure
2012 Adventures
Treasure Coast, Florida
Corpus Christi, Texas

2010 Adventure
2009 Adventures
St. Augustine, Florida 
Newport News, Virginia
Manteo, North Carolina

 2007 Adventures
2005 Adventures
Salem, Massachusetts
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
St. Augustine, Florida
Party SmiliesSinging
          SmilieDueling SmiliesSailing
          SmilieBouncing Smilie

2012 Pirate Adventures

This be not a pirate adventure per se, but this Texas port offers pirates with a yearnin' for the sea the opportunity to transport themselves back to the days when darin' sea captains explored the waters of what we call the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History offers a cornucopia of activities for young buccaneers, but the most interestin' parts from a pirate's perspective is Shipwreck! (When me and me mate visited, they were also offerin' treasure hunts and craft sessions for young pirates.) When Spain first began explorin' the vast coastline of the United States, they called it La Florida. 'Twas a dangerous coast with many natural hazards, and more than a few ships sank in these waters. Columbus lost five ships, while ten sank under Hernando Cortes's watch. 'Tis a sad and tragic event anytime a ship wrecks, but what 'tis special about this exhibit is that the museum shares artifacts from the wrecks of the Santa Maria de Yciar, Espíritu Santo, and San Esteban. These vessels sank near Padre Island in 1554 during a storm and are the oldest shipwrecks to be scientifically excavated in our hemisphere. Of the 300 passengers aboard, nearly half reached land.

The design of the exhibit hall includes facsimiles of ships through which ye can journey. The pictures below be showin' the prow, the side view what gives ye a better picture of a ship's anchor, one on of her deck guns. There be murals, too, that show the loadin' of ships with cargo for trade, new homes, and survival. One of the Spanish ships carried 40 barrels filled with cochineal, a bug from which a brilliant red dye was made. 'Twas a fine treasure indeed since each of those barrels held 500 pounds. The other artifact be an astrolab, an early device that a sea artisan used to navigate the ship.

Bow side view with

Bow view of model of
                    Columbus' ship
Above: Museum recreation of bow of 16th-century Spanish ship
(port side view)

Below: Jar of Cochineal

Above: Museum recreation of bow of 16th-century Spanish ship
(front view)

Below: Astrolab
Jar of cochineal


The flotillas that transported the riches of the New World home to Spain were mostly merchant ships, which were armed with bombards. When first designed, these cast bronze guns were used to throw stones, but eventually iron shot replaced the stone. That sometimes caused a wee bit o' a problem, though, since the heated gun sometimes burst apart, killin' more than one guncrew. Bombards were used to cripple a ship, while versos murdered men. Any pirate worth his salt kens what a swivel gun be, and these versos were used to sweep a ship's deck of men.

16th-century cannon16th-century
                  ship's cannonVerso
Right & Center: Bombards. Left: Verso

At the time of our visit, ye could also be visitin' see replicas of the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but they have since gone the way o' many a fine ship. Below are some pictures of these fine vessels, which Spain built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's journey to the New World. The Pinta be a caravel, but the Santa Maria be a nao (what an English pirate be callin' a carrack).

The Pinta (stern view)

Hatch to the cargo hold

                    galley stove aboard Pinta
Portable Galley Stove


Santa Maria

These two pictures be of the Santa Maria. She be not in the best of conditions, because these ships were built for the quincentenary, not the long haul. 'Tis a merchant wi' deep pockets who can maintain a vessel the size of this one. Ye can see why we pirates had to careen our ships three to four times a year. If we dinna take care to clean and repair them, they tend to leak like a sieve and sink, kind of like what happened to Cap'n Kidd's Adventure Galley.
Santa Maria's

The Niña be docked at the Lawrence Street T-Head behind Joe's Crab Shack, and she underwent a complete restoration since we visited her. Columbus be likin' this caravel the best o' all his ships, although her true name be Santa Clara (her official name), and she served as his flagship on his second voyage to Hispaniola. Ye can be readin' more about her adventures here.

NinaNina's stern

But 'tisn't just Spanish shipwrecks the museum concerns itself with. There also be artifacts from the French La Belle, René-Robert Cavelier's ship what was explorin' the Texas coast more than a century later. Young pirates, older ones too, might be knowin' him better as La Salle. His ship sank in Matagorda Bay in February 1686. Little remains of La Belle, but ye can be findin' artifacts retrieved from the wreckage in different museums along the Texas coast. Aside from the storm that sank her, La Salle's expedition be encounterin' pirates off Santo Domingo (ye be knowin' it today as the Dominican Republic). The Spanish pirates attacked Saint François, the ketch what be carryin' the expedition's provisions. Among the displays ye can be seein' are those of a French marine, a cast bronze gun, and a swivel gun.

French marine17th-century guns

Should ye be wantin' to visit all the museums what showcase La Salle's Odyssey, this link provides the chart and locations ye be needin' to set sail.

2009 Pirate Adventures

“Arrgh!” be the highest compliment a buccaneer gives when she anchors at a port and such is The Mariner’s Museum. (This be accordin’ to definition thirteen in George Choundas’ The Pirate Primer – “aye! Yes; that’s excellent.”) And the U.S. Congress agrees wi’ me assessment, for they designated her “America’s National Maritime Museum.” ’Tis truly an amazin’ sight to behold, and when ye venture within her halls, be prepared to be spendin’ the day here. Her holdin’s are a treasure indeed.

The Mariner's Museum

Cape Charles
              Lighthouse LensThis be one o’ the few museums what allows ye to take pictures o’ their displays, although if ye wish to be showcasin’ her wares for all to see as I am, ye must obtain permission to do so. [Amy Ritchie, Director o’ Government and Public Relations, be grantin’ me such a letter o’ marque, so ye be welcome to look, but don’t be plunderin’ these views without askin’.] If ye want to enhance yer visit, have one o’ the docents give ye a guided tour o’ the museum. (There be no charge for this.) After traversin’ the grand entry hall and payin’ for tickets, we explored the Chesapeake Bay Gallery, which includes a few displays about pirates. It showcases maritime life on the Chesapeake since 1630 and includes a Native American dugout canoe and the Cape Charles Lighthouse lens.

The newest addition to the museum be the USS Monitor Center. There be several films to watch detailing the famous Civil War battle atween the Monitor and the Merrimac, and ye start by learnin’ how the Confederates captured the Merrimac and altered this ship until she became the ironclad CSS Virginia. Ye can walk through recreations o’ the Monitor’s officers’ quarters, trod the deck o’ a full-scale replica, see the interior o’ the gun turret before she sank and afterward, or try yer hand at one o’ the interactive exhibits. Then venture over to the Batten Conservation Complex where ye can watch the conservation process. One docent told me it be takin’ twenty years for the turret to be preserved.

USS Monitor Turret

Replica of
            interior of gun turret before she sankReplica of gun
            turret after she sank

After a delicious lunch at the Compass Café, we set sail for the Age o’ Exploration. Models o’ ships from the time period abound. There be a reproduction o’ Martin Behaim’s terrestrial globe and rare books early explorers consulted in their travels. Ye can also see the navigational instruments these darin’ men used.

Model of Spanish ship during
            Age of Exploration

The Nelson Touch showcases the Royal Navy during Admiral Horatio Nelson’s lifetime. Visitors also learn about the great admiral himself and how he rose through the ranks to defeat the French Navy. Defendin’ the Seas explores American naval history from its infancy to the present. Ye can man the helm o’ a frigate, stand in the control room o’ a submarine, or sit where the fighter pilots got their orders on a battleship.

Frigate wheelSubmarine control room

The Great Hall o’ Steam features models o’ steamships and includes a special exhibit o’ the Titanic. Figureheads adorn the walls here and ye can be watchin’ a ship modelmaker at work or gaze upon the miniature ships o’ August and Winnifred Crabtree. Several display cases be includin’ magnifyin’ glass so ye can view the intricate details o’ these vessels crafted from pear, laurel, and white thorn. The museum also be havin’ exhibits o’ international small craft and boatbuilding.

If ye venture outdoors, ye can traverse the Mariners’ Museum Park, which includes a five-mile walking trail, many a’ wooden bridge, the lion’s bridge, and statues. Ye can swim, fish, have a picnic, or rent a pirate ship to paddle on the lake. For those who wish to enrich their knowledge o’ maritime history, ye can be doin’ so at the library, which houses the largest maritime collection in the western hemisphere and covers six centuries o’ books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, charts, and ships’ plans from around the world. The Mariner’s Museum is a grand adventure indeed!

Located on Roanoke Island be the Roanoke Island Festival Park. While pirates be not the main feature o’ this living history museum, they can be found here. There be the usual pirates who frequented the Carolina coast, like Anne Bonny and Edward Teach, but the principal pirates ye be seein’ are the Sea Dogs o’ the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. (Durin’ our visit, we also enjoyed an interestin’ travelin’ exhibit from the Newberry Library and the American Library Association on Queen Bess.)

What ye may not ken is Jamestown was not England’s first attempt to settle in America. Sir Walter Raleigh, a contemporary o’ Sir Francis Drake, sponsored three attempts in the late sixteenth century to colonize what we call North Carolina today, but was Virginia then. The first trip was reconnaissance. The second voyage in 1587 brought men to set up a military colony here. Two o’ those who came were Thomas Harriot and John White. These men, a scientist and an artist, recorded their experiences, but hardships forced the colonists to return home the followin’ year. ’Tis the third attempt that is best known, for 116 men, women, and children had disappeared from the settlement begun in 1587 when ships returned three years later. Known as the Lost Colony, ye can see their tale in the outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, which runs durin’ the summer at nearby Fort Raleigh. (’Tis a grand play indeed, for I saw it many a year ago.)

Ol' StumpyThe Festival Park, however, be concentratin’ on the second expedition and there be many choices as to how ye venture through this historical tour. We opted to explore the Roanoke Adventure Museum first where there be lots o’ hands-on activities for young and old pirates alike. Ye can dress up like the Sea Dogs or their ladies. Try yer hand at navigatin’ using the cross staff and astrolabe. And don’t be forgettin’ to listen to Ol’ Stumpy tell ye about Carolina pirates! He be just the one to do the tellin’, for he’s a pirate what has one good eye and one good leg, so he kens what pirates do. But ye won’t be learnin’ just about sea dogs and pirates here. The museum recounts the maritime history o’ the Outer Banks from the time o’ Raleigh through today. Be sure to peruse the map o’ shipwrecks along this dangerous coast – it shows only one third o’ the wrecks – and venture through the life saving station that’s been recreated for ye.

If ye want to learn more about the Algonquians and what life was like when the English arrived, enjoy the fifty-minute film, The Legend o’ Two Path. Then venture outside and take one o’ two paths. The left fork takes ye to the settlement, a recreation o’ where the soldiers set up camp. Ye can enter one o’ their tents and see how they lived. The colonists who be there the day ye visit may show ye how to play their games or how they crafted the tools and such they needed. If ye be lucky, ye can see how they wield their swords and pole arms or fire their matchlock guns.

The prize o’ the park be the Elizabeth II, what recreates one o’ Raleigh’s ships from the 1585 voyage. She be a bark with three masts and square sails. The day o’ our visit we met one o’ her seamen, a cabin boy, and a merchant what explained all about the vessel and how they lived aboard her. They welcome questions, but ye must listen closely to their answers, for they speak the English o’ Queen Bess’s time, rather than ours.

Elizabeth II: Merchant and
            BittacleElizabeth II: Stern

If ye have time while visitin’ Manteo, ye may wish to sail aboard the pirate ship Sea Gypsy. Their broadside says ye can search for sunken treasure, fire their water cannons, have yer face painted, dress up, and more. Alas, we didn’t have time to try this out, but if ye be visitin’ in the summer, Sea Gypsy sails six times a day. If ye be lookin’ for a fun place for mess, I recommend Big Al’s Soda Fountain and Grill. They don’t be servin’ regular pirate fare such as salmagundi and rumfustian, but me Ivory Tower Club and Butter Pecan Shake were sumptuous.

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2007 Pirate Adventures

'Tisn't the seaport 'twas once, but Salem has a rich maritime history and quite a few men set sail from here aboard privateers, and New England was once a favorite pirate haunt. Our first stop be the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on Derby Street, which be run by the National Park Service. No charge to walk around Central and Derby Wharfs or to visit the Scale House or Public Stores behind the Custom House, but fer $5 a person ($3 if ye be a pirate apprentice or one what's retired from the sea), even pirates on tight budgets can join a guided tour of the Custom House, the Derby House, the Narbonne House, and the Friendship. Interested in privateerin'? Ye can also take a 45-minute Privateer Walkin' Tour. We visited the Custom House where Park Ranger Martin explained various items on display and provided us wi' several amusin' antecdotes about those who worked here. Park Ranger Alicia served as our guide on the Privateer Walkin' Tour and she be a wealth o' information on these legal pirates should ye have any questions that need answerin'.

Nay matter what ye decide to see, start at the Orientation Center and see To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East, a 17-minute film on the history of Salem. This be also where ye pay for the tours (one price for all -- a true piratical value) and make reservations for the tours ye be wantin' to take as each be only offered at certain bells (that's times fer ye landlubbers) durin' the day.

Salem Maritime National
            Historic Site

Ye be standing near the end of what remains of Central Wharf. Across the water be Derby Wharf, and the walkways ye be seein' give access to the Friendship when she be in port. Unfortunately, she was in drydock for her annual careenin'.

Central Wharf was the fourth largest in Salem at 795 feet long. Warehouses would ha' lined her length. When vessels put in here, their cargos were measured, weighed, and inspected. Once the duties were paid on such items as spices, coffee, tea, silks, India cotton, and ivory, the goods were released. Simon Forrester, a privateer durin' the American Revolution, owned the wharf from 1791-1817. One of the city's wealthiest shipowners, he wed Rachel Hathorne in 1776. If her name be familiar to ye, might be 'cause she was Nathaniel Hawthorne's aunt (more on him later).

Simon Forrester's HomeElias Derby's House

The blue house once belonged to Simon Forrester and overlooks his wharf, but today it be owned by someone else, so ye can only be lookin' at it from the street. Simon came to America at the age o' 19 from Ireland, and by the time o' his 28th year, he was a cap'n. He managed this feat wi'out havin' any special connections in society. In 1776 he captured four British prizes, but after the war, he retired from privateerin' to become a merchant and shipowner. When he died, he was worth $1,500,000.

The brick house belonged to another revolutionary privateer, Elias Hasket Derby, who owned Derby Wharf. 'Tweren't called that back in his day (1793-1799). 'Twas called Long Wharf and later Union Wharf afore it became Derby Wharf. In 1785 one o' his ships sailed to China and when she returned and her wares were sold, he became Salem's first millionaire. His father, Richard Derby, was the family patriarch and Elias' brother was also a privateer. Elias, who had one blue eye and one green eye, wed Elizabeth Crowninshield and they had seven children. In 1780 Derby built a new house (Hawkes House) next door, but instead o' movin' into it, he used is as a warehouse to store the goods his privateers took. Between 1777 and 1782, his privateers captured 144 prizes. At the height of his career Elias Derby owned 50% of all Salem ships, 12% of all Massachusetts ships, and 5% of the merchantmen in the nation.

Custom House

Durin' its heyday (1783-1815), Salem was the sixth largest port in America after Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston. This be the Custom House, which was built in 1819. 'Twas here that the U.S. Government issued permits, protection certificates, and ships' measurement certificates. (A protection certificate was akin to today's passport and 'twas to prevent a sailor from being pressed into naval service. Didn't always work, though.) Merchants paid the duties on their purchased cargoes here. The Custom House remained in use until 1938, but President Jefferson's trade embargo in the early 1800s and the buildin' o' larger ships that required deeper waters lessened Salem's importance as a port city.

If ye take the tour, ye'll see where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked for 3 1/2 hours a day. He lost his job once President Taylor took office. Did ye ken that he added the "w" to his name so as to distance himself from his ancestor who presided over the witch trials in Salem? If ye want to be learnin' more about the author, right down the road ye can visit the House of the Seven Gables. As fer learnin' more about witches, there be many such places in Salem to visit and several walkin' tours ye can take.

Cargo in Public StoresWhen a ship put into port, the Custom House officers loaded up their portable scales and gauges and went to the wharf to weigh and inspect the cargo. In the early 1800s, import duties on a cargo ranged from $25,000 to $90,000. On the backside of this buildin' ye be findin' the Public Stores, where unclaimed cargo was held until someone paid its duty. Items that were a necessity to life were taxed at a lower rate than commodities (like tea and coffee) that were considered luxuries. Import duties came to about 5% o' the value o' the cargo. By 1845 Customs had collected $5,000,000 just on imported pepper.

When ye be finished seein' the site, stop in at the West India Goods Store. Erected around 1800 by Captain Henry Prince, ye can still purchase all manner o' booty here in one o' the last o' the early shops in New England. Ye'll find spices, coffee, teas, porcelain, and many other treasures. If ye want to be tryin' an old-fashioned candy, I recommend Molasses Peppermint Drops.

After lunch on Pickering Wharf, we walked down to see the schooner Fame. She be a reproduction o' the 1812 privateer that ye can sail aboard. Dependin' on when ye come, the 1 hour 45 minute cruise be offered at varyin' times o' the day. The price of an excursion be $25 fer pirates in their prime, $20 fer retired pirates, and $15 fer pirate apprentices under 13. Fer those lookin' fer a wee bit of romance, ye may want to take a sunset cruise.

Beware! Pirates abound in Salem, an' their favorite gatherin' place be the New England Pirate Museum. When yer tour begins, ye enter a holdin' room where ye can meet the likes o' Dixie Bull, Sam Bellamy, Ned Low, and Rachel Ward! Ye can also feast yer eyes on a coin retrieved from the wreckage of Bellamy's Whydah, which sank durin' a fierce storm off Cape Cod.

New England Pirate Museum

Dead Men Tell No Tales!Pirates examine their treasure

Yer travels take ye to Salem in 1692 and to an 80-foot cave that notorious sea robbers frequented.

Blue Anchor Tavern

This here be the Blue Anchor Tavern, but ye'd do well not to imbibe in its spirits. Do ye ken the sayin', "Loose lips sink ships?" If so, then take heed, fer the tavern keeper keeps a sharp ear out fer information. If she likes what she hears, she invites ye to a room upstairs. The treasure she promises, though, be not what ye're expectin'. 'Tis a prison cell and once ye're in it, it won't be long afore ye be dancin' the hempin' jig!

A pirate meets his fate!

Andrew, our guide, regaled us wi' all manner o' tales about New England's pirates. Where else can ye learn about William Fly, whose piratical career lasted one whole month, or Thomas Tew, a gifted storyteller who amassed a pirate's fortune and retired? On the pleadin' o' his mates, though, he returned to his thievin' ways and was killed while seekin' more gold. Or perhaps ye be wantin' to discover 'xactly how Joe Brodish kept disappearin' from his jail cell. Was it black magic? Or did he ken a secret no one else did?

Ye can also be visitin' the Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers. 'Tis a grand way to meet some of Salem's esteemed, as well as notorious, residents. For example, ye can see Jacob Crowninshield (1770-1808), who brought back the first live elephant on one o' his ships. He paid $450 for the beast, but sold it for $10,000. Ye could see the elephant for "one quarter of a dollar."

Pirate Hanging

John Lambert, a pirate from Salem, and John Quelch were hanged in Boston in 1704.

Cap'n Tom poses for the camera

When ye're finished meetin' the Salem residents o' yore, venture belowdeck where ye can try yer hand at gravestone rubbin' or knot tyin'. If ye be more artistically inclined, there be sand art and candle art. Otherwise, ye might want ta pose fer a picture, so those at home can see what a fine pirate cap'n ye are!

Our next stop be Plymouth. Ye might not think there be anythin' piratical about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower, but ye'd be wrong. French privateers captured the first ship transportin'  goods from the New World back to England, and a Turkish man-o'-war seized the second vessel. Begin yer journey either at Plimoth Plantation or the Mayflower II. Since me leanin's be toward the sea, we opted to visit the ship on a dreary, windy day -- what reminds me o' good ol' Irish weather.

Mayflower II

This ship be not the true one what brung the colonists to the New World, but a replica built 50 years ago. In fact, we visited the day they celebrated the crossin' from England in 1957. While ye explore her decks and cabins, there be guides and 17th-century sailors and passengers to help ye journey back in time. View the exhibits at the dock, then step aboard this merchant ship, which be the same size as the original. Her keel be 58 feet long and her breadth be 25 feet. Ye can tour the round house where the navigator plotted her course, the great cabin where the master lived, the lower deck where the passengers slept, an' the steerage that housed the whipstaff. Ye can also be viewin' the guns she carried fer defense.

Sleeping quarters for
            passengersSleeping quarters for the master

One of the guns aboard the
            Mayflower II

Plimoth PlantationNot far from the vessel be Plimoth Plantation. Ye begin yer journey at the Visitor Center, where ye can dine on traditional fare or more modern food or see a film that explains the beginnin's of this settlement. From there ye travel to a Wampanoag Homesite, where the staff interprets the culture and history of the Native People from today's viewpoint. When we were there, they were makin' a canoe and stew, as well as plantin' new crops. Once ye leave the homesite, though, ye are steppin' back in time to 1627 (that's 7 years after they landed). None of the colonists ye meet ken anythin' what's happened since then, so don't be askin' them modern-day questions. Fer example, ye can't be askin' them about the Great Fire of London, 'cause it hasn't happened yet! They be more than willin' to talk about their daily lives and events, tho' ye might be wantin' to study some Shakespeare so 'tis a wee bit easier to understand them.

Ye can't be visitin' the Massachusetts coast wi'out journeyin' to Cape Cod. Our first stop was Provinceton to see the Whydah Expeditions, but fate had other ideas. Circumstances beyond our control and theirs prevented us from tourin' the exhibits, but they be havin' a tourin' exhibit that may be comin' to a museum near ye soon.

Expedition Whydah

If ye be likin' lighthouses (like me own mum), ye might want to visit the nearby Cape Cod/Highland Lighthouse in North Truro. Ye can also be seein' a variety of maritime exhibits at the Truro Historical Society Museum. This be where Miles Standish and his men stayed on their second night ashore while seekin' a good site to settle. Henry David Thoreau stayed in the house that is now the museum.

Cape Cod LighthouseOcean view from lighthouse

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2005 Pirate Adventures

Before ye go thinkin’ that a pirate’s life is all work, I’m here to wipe that idea right out o’ yer head. Whene’er we visit a pirate haven, like Port Royal in Jamaica, some of me brethren enjoy the rum. ‘Tis fine for those that likes Cap’n Morgan. Me? I’d rather be playin’ miniature golf! I’m not a grand player, ye understand, but on rare occasions I do make a hole-in-one. Most places par is 36. I be averagin’ 49, whilst Tom gets 45.  either of us will be enterin’ the national tournies anytime soon, but playing is lots o’ fun with a wee bit of exercise, too. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has seven miniature golf courses, and those are just the ones that cater to pirates! Most o’ the places have two separate courses to try yer swing. Should ye be wantin’ to join the rest o’ us pirates for fun, here are the places ye want to try first. After these, there’s a host o’ others to sate yer appetite, but ye won’t be findin’ any pirates there – just dragons, dinosaurs, and other creatures amidst exotic locales.


Spy Glass Adventure
                  Golf Logo
SpyGlass Adventure Golf
3801 North Kings Highway, (843) 626-9309

If ye be faint o’ heart, steer clear o' this Treasure Island adventure. ‘Tis divided into two courses – Treasure Island and Long John Silver’s Mine. There’s plenty o’ action and lots o’ special effects, like cannons firin’ and blasts o’ water where the shots land. Beware o’ the most challengin’ holes. Ye board a ship to hit yer ball, then have to go to another deck to finish sinkin’ the ball! 

Shipwreck Island
                  Adventure Golf Logo
Shipwreck Island Adventure Golf
3301 South Ocean Boulevard, (843) 913-5330

This one has naught to do with pirates, but those who fish will enjoy the displays of a shark and other fish, includin’ a Warsaw grouper and a blue marlin. On one course ye wind yer way through a volcano. There’s also a totterin’ shipwreck atop a waterfall. Watch out for the S curves, tunnels, waves, logs, and turtle-shell obstacles that appear at various holes just to make ye miss yer hole-in-one! Pirate lassies will savor the honeysuckle arbor, especially if the day be hot. Ye may want to ken ahead o’ time that Shipwreck Island be located directly in the flight path o’ the airport, so bring that cotton ye stuff in yer ears during gunnery practice to protect yer hearin’.

Captain Hook's
                    Adventure Golf Logo
Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf
21st Avenue North on Highway 17 Business, (843) 913-7851

Now this here’s one o’ me favorites! Me mate’s, too, as Tom had 4 holes-in-one on Hook’s Challenge. If ye be needin’ practice getting’ the ball in the hole, the kind owners have a place for ye to do just that before ye venture down the paths to the Lost Boys or Hook’s Challenge. For those not familiar wi’ Peter Pan never fear. Ye can read quotes from the book as ye traverse bridges, waterfalls, and tunnels that take ye into a skull mountain or Captain Hook’s jailhouse. Dinna be surprised if ye spot a mermaid or gator, and if’n yer lucky, a live lizard. Keep a sharp eye out for Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell! When yer done, don’t forget to visit the gift shop where ye’ll be finding lots of treasure for young and old pirates alike.

Buccaneer Bay
                    Miniature Golf Logo
Buccaneer Bay Miniature Golf
5894 South Kings Highway

These two courses remind me o’ the old-fashioned courses. Nothin’ fancy, but ye still have fun. Watch out for live ducks, bridges, waterfalls, cannon, and long-imprisoned pirates as ye go up, down, and around the various holes. Ye should ken up front that this place closes early by pirate standards (6:00 pm), and they prefer gold to the new plastic money most o’ us be carryin’.

                    Island Golf Logo
Treasure Island Golf
4801 North Kings Highway, (843) 449-4754

This here’s the place to visit if ye are a die-hard Treasure Island fan and like to climb mountains. Shaped like the island where Flint buried his treasure, ye’ll find waterfalls, bridges, and palm trees on yer way up Spy Glass Hill. Watch out for Skeleton Island and Ben Gunn’s Cave. If ye dinna ken the tale of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins, never ye fear. Ye can read passages from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island while ye play.

Mutiny Bay Golf
                    Caribbean Adventure Logo
Mutiny Bay Golf Caribbean Adventure
301 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach, (843) 249-7844

This here is where I golfed me best score – 39! Every time I play I land at least one hole-in-one. As ye pass through the entrance to the fortress where ye pays yer tax, be on the watch for treasure and captured pirates. Once ye gets iron and shot, ye venture out to the lagoon where the MS Fortune be wagin’ a battle, apparently fer many a year. The pirates are naught but skeletons in rags, but the firin’ o’ guns still echoes o’er the lagoon. Ye’ve two paths to choose from: Barbados and Port Royal. One course teaches true pirate lingo to those who dinna ken it. The other introduces them to notorious pirates ye should’ve learned about in school, but didn’t.

Pirate's Watch
                    Adventure Golf Logo
Pirate’s Watch Adventure Golf
1500 South Kings Highway, 448-8600

This here is another o’ me favorites! While ye play, ye are completely surrounded by water. Blackbeard’s Stronghold is a wee bit more o’ a challenge than Captain Hook’s Retreat. There are signs to teach ye about famous pirates like Captain Kidd, Red Legs Greaves, and Black Bart. I dinna ken why, but they be givin’ pirate lasses an advantage at each hole. Ye play one hole aboard a pirate ship complete with cannon, so be sure to take a spin at the wheel and ring the ship’s bell. Keep a wary eye out for the graves of Stede Bonnet, Blackbeard, Captain England, Calico Jack, and Anne Bonny. If yer lucky enough to reach the top of the fortress, dinna forget to cast yer eyes on the Atlantic Ocean. The West Indies Trading Company may look innocent, but ‘tis actually a secret tunnel. Before ye leave, dinna forget to have yer picture taken at the stocks! Ye can also feed the ducks and catfish.

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Party SmiliesSinging SmilieDueling SmiliesSailing SmilieBouncing Smilie

We all ken that the best pirate treasure comes from those generous Spaniards who ship gold and silver and gems aboard the great galleons. As any pirate will tell ye, ye’ve a better chance to succeed if ye ken yer enemy. I suggest sailing into St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in America. Founded in 1565, it didn’t take long afore our brethren happened on the city. The first to strike, in 1568, was Sir Francis Drake, although if ye be askin’ the Spanish, Drake was no knight. They called him El Draque, the dragon! To them, he was a pirate and a heretic. With twenty ships and 2000 men, Drake razed the fort and town. A decade later another band of cutthroats, led by Robert Searles, sailed into Matanzas Bay under cover o’ darkness and sacked the city. Not long after work began on a stone fort, Castillo de San Marcos, to protect the city. It took twenty-three years to build and cost more than 138,000 pesos.

Castillo de San Marcos
          overlooking Matanzas Bay

Ye won’t be findin’ pirates strollin’ the streets of the city now unless ye happen to visit when we be gatherin’ to restage the raids o’ Drake and Searles. That dinna mean we aren’t there, though. As the sun is settin’, board the Schooner Freedom to hear ghostly tales o’ the Matanzas. Cap’n Andrew Wiggins, himself a ghost who was cruelly hanged after reformin’ and livin’ an honest life, taunts and amuses those who dare to cruise the waters with him tellin’ stories, singin’ chanteys, and organizin’ contests. The captain be a fine storyteller, with just the right mix of scurvy pirate and captivatin’ raconteur.


Schooner Freedom
City Marina
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 810-1010
Sails three times each day
Ghosts of the Matanzas
                  with Captain Andrew Wiggin

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Copyright © 2005-2007 Cindy Vallar

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