Pirate FlagPirates and PrivateersPirate Flag
The History of Maritime Piracy

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

Pirate Articles
Pirate Links
Book Reviews
Thistles & Pirates

Pirate Adventures
Updated 17 August 2015

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?
  2010 Pirate Adventure -- St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine Pirate Gathering
St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
The Pirate Ship:
Black Raven
Party SmiliesSinging
          SmilieDueling SmiliesSailing
          SmilieBouncing Smilie

Saucy Jack and Me

'Tis a rare thing for pirates to be visitin' the same waters where in the past they be not welcome, but St. Augustine, Florida loves pirates! In fact, one such rogue by the name of Saucy Jack (also known as Joseph O'Steen, author of Falcon's Revenge and Pursuit of Honor) says ye can be walkin' the streets of this fair city in all yer pirate finery and no one will be havin' ye dance the hempen jig. And there be special times when pirates descend on St. Augustine -- reenactment of Searle's Raid in March and Drake's Raid in June -- but the one what caught me fancy be the St. Augustine Pirate Gatherin' this November past. Each November we Brethren o' the Coast descend on the oldest city in North America to parade through the streets, fight battles at sea and swordfight on land, and enjoy a wee dram while listenin' to rousin' sea dog entertainment. There be a Buccaneer Bash, for those brave enough to venture out at night amongst us rogues, but be warned too much rum may find ye facin' justice at the pirate court the next mornin'. 'Tis a treasure-filled weekend for sure!

Here I be wi' Saucy Jack himself (left). He's a rogue of many talents. Aside from his maritime tales, he be the President and Commodore of the St. Augustine Pirate University and makes and sells Saucy Jack's Pirate Hats. Below left be his tent at the St. Augustine Pirate Gatherin', where he poses with his lovely pirate wench, Barbara Bett (also known as Chris O'Steen). To the right be two buccaneers, one o' whom has a feathery friend.

Saucy Jack's
                Pirate HatsPirates with macaw

Floats in the Pirate Parade

Pirate Parade

Pirate Parade

Lest ye be thinkin' that be all the pirate fun to be had, think again. Back in 2005 I ventured down to Key West to see Pat Croce's new Pirate Soul Museum. 'Twas a grand and glorious adventure filled with treasures galore -- those from our esteemed and somewhat notorious past, and includin' some whats once belonged to real pirates, such as Thomas Tew's treasure chest -- the only authentic one in the world. The pictures below provide ye with a glimpse o' what the Key West museum featured before 'twas closed in August 2010.
                      Royal, Pirate Soul, Key West
Street in Port Royal, Jamaica afore 1692

                      Tavern, Pirate Soul, Key West
Rogues Tavern
Blackbeard's head, Pirate Soul, Key West
Blackbeard's animatronic talking head
                      Deck, Pirate Soul, Key West
Main Deck of a Pirate Ship

Although 'twas a fine museum, Key West be not an easy place to get to and there were fewer visitors to Pirate Soul than Pat Croce had hoped for. Plus this avid collector of piratical artifacts be wantin' young pirates and pirate apprentices to be seein' a part of history that teachers often overlook -- unless they be pirates themselves. So he decided to relocate and expand his pirate museum to a city that pirates have visited since the place was first founded. (If ye be wantin' to learn of that history, ye be wantin' to read "The Pirates of San Augustín".) On 8 December 2010, I be happy to say, the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum opened!

Since we be there afore then, we had a private tour through the museum, located on South Castillo Drive opposite the Castillo de San Marcos. Our guides were Sarah Knott, Museum Consultant, and Kari Cobham, Director of Media Communications. Most exhibits weren't yet in place, as the contractors were busy puttin' the finishin' touches on those, but havin' been to Pirate Soul, we were able to imagine what each room would be like when 'twas finished. (Ye be lucky because ye dinna have to imagine. The museum has given me permission to share photos from their galleries with ye. But beware Mistress Kari be grantin’ me a letter o’ marque to be doin' so. Ye be welcome to look, but don’t be plunderin’ these views without askin’.)

Under construction
This be the St. Augustine Pirate Museum under construction the day after our visit in mid-November.

                    Artist Rendering
Early Artistic Renderin' of the Musem

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum taken 22 December
Now let's be goin' inside to see what awaits ye. Yer first stop be our old pirate haven, Port Royal, where ye learn about architecture, medicine, navigation, and geography. Ye can also be after seeing King James I's royal proclamation against us, which he issued in 1605. Rogues Tavern be where ye meet the likes of Sir Francis Drake and Captain Robert Searle, who both attacked St. Augustine (at different times). Ye can view authentic pirate artifacts and learn about the buccaneers of St. Augustine, whose portraits be done by local artists. Or perhaps ye pirate apprentices fancy interactin' with touchscreens to learn more about the brethren of the past.

Drake and Searle
Museum Executive Director Cindy Stavely and Elaine Fraser, General Manager at the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, check out pirate captain Robert Searles (left) and Sir Francis Drake (right).
Rogues Tavern
Visitors "flip" through the award-winning interactive Book of Pirates in Rogues Tavern.
Next step aboard a pirate ship's main deck. This fully interactive exhibit be where ye sign the articles, ring the ship's bell, man her helm, and hoist the Jolly Roger. Ye can practice your knot-tying skills or fire a flintlock pistol as well.
Main Deck, Pirate Museum
Gordy Wilson, superintendant at Castillo de San Marcos fort, and visitors
venture onto the Main Deck at the museum.
If ye be real quiet, ye can be enterin' the Captain's Cabin, although by rights it belongs to all the crew. This exhibit houses Captain Kidd artifacts (including Lt. Thomas Longish's journal from 1699 of the pirate's last voyage aboard HMS Advice to his trial and execution in England), navigational tools, and first and second editions of pirate books, some what were written by the rogues themselves, such as Alexandre Exquemelin's 1684 edition of Buccaneers of America. Ye can also be opening the discovery drawers to find the artifacts they hold.
Shhh! Best not to wake the captain! And don't be forgettin' to feast your eyes on a real Jolly Roger.
Sleeping captain before
View of sleeping pirate captain before completion
Sleeping Pirate Captain
                        with artifacts
View of sleeping pirate captain after opening

Real Pirate Flag
Local businessman Tiger Lee, owner of Pirate Fashions N Fotos, checks out the Jolly Roger flag,
which dates back to the 1800s and is one of only two known to exist in the world today.
From the Main Deck ye descend to the Gun Deck, which has two real guns ye can fire. This be where City of St. Augustine Director of Heritage Tourism and Historic Preservation Dana Ste. Clair tries his hand at firin' one of them.
Pirate Museum Gun Deck
Dinna fear! All ye who visited the old museum will remember the spine-tingling Below Deck exhibit designed by Disney Imagineers. 'Twas transported here to St. Augustine, so if ye dare, venture within the dark, fetid hold of the ship and don the special earphones that will surround ye with sounds of a real pirate battle. Blackbeard be near enough to whisper in your ear, but so be the rats, so BEWARE!

The next exhibition features Execution Dock, not a place any pirate wishes to visit, but one we all know of. Here be where ye can listen to Blackbeard's severed head or read the 1696 wanted poster for Henry Avery. Ye learn about Calico Jack, women pirates, torture, and execution. If ye be a notorious pirate, like Captain Kidd, ye might find yourself hangin' around in a gibbet like the fella below.
Execution Dock
A punished pirate hangs from a gibbet,
a warnin' to all who pass of the fate that awaits pirates.

Shipwreck Island be just the place for scalawags what likes their treasure, such as pieces of eight and gold bars. Two pirates -- one in the hole, one out -- be diggin' for treasure, perhaps hopin' to discover a chest like the 400-year-old chest below. Ye can also view booty from Florida's historic treasure hunts -- gold candlesticks and jewelry -- some of what's been hidden in the Tallahassee vault and ne'er seen afore. Blue Water Venture has loaned the museum pearl and jade from the Santa Margarita, one of the flota galleons that sank along with the Atocha in 1622.
Afore ye depart the exhibits, ye pass through Hollywood Pirates, where ye can see the jacket Errol Flynn wore in Captain Blood and Johnny Depp's sword and cursed  coin used in Pirates of the Caribbean. The last stop be a treasure-filled gift shop where ye be certain to find the perfect booty to remind ye of your visit to the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.

There be only one way for pirates to end the day, and that be on a pirate ship. But afore we talk about St. Augustine's very own pirate ship, there be another vessel what sailed in for a visit while we were in port. She be the Lynx, a privateer schooner from the War of 1812. (She be not the original Lynx, but an interpretation of the famous Baltimore schooner and be now a livin' history museum.)
Lynx sailing
Lynx enterin' the harbor

Lynx dockedLynx docked
Lynx docked (left -- view of bow, right -- view from stern)
Now pirate ships be rare indeed, but St. Augustine has the Black Raven, and ye can be sailin' aboard her for fun and adventure. We went the evenin' the Pirate Gatherin' ended. 'Twas dusk while we waited to board, but even so she's a bonny ship styled after a galleon.
Views of the Black Raven

Black Raven
Gunnar Hedqwist be the owner of the Black Raven and he and his motley crew provide an amazin' round of entertainment for those brave enough to tread the decks. And dinna be surprised if ye find yerself part of the entertainment. Even if ye sail one time, the next will be different, for not every pirate sails on every cruise.
Buccaneers galore waited to board this pirate ship the night we sailed. When we climbed aboard, three crew members greeted us -- Oly Mackerel, Captain Jack, and Black Rose -- but they were a friendly sort.
                    waiting to boardSome of
                    Black Raven's Crew
'Twas the pirate who stood on the grate in the waist of the ship, though, what caught each boarder's gaze -- Blackbeard! There was an air of intimidation about him, even without the famous lit fuses castin' rings of smoke round his face, but as the night progressed, his legendary charisma surfaced. Mayhaps 'twas his height or his brawn, but more likes 'twas his joinin' in the fun that drew the passengers to him -- meself included.
Blackbeard with tambourine

Blackbeard and Me
The crew entertained us throughout the voyage with singin', tale spinnin', dancin', and jokes, as well as a firin' of the black powder gun. But 'twas Captain William Mayhem what held us spellbound with his magic! And we also got to help a young pirate lad celebrate his birthday.
Black Raven's Crew
The Black Ravens
Captain Mayhem, Blackbeard, Black Rose, Captain Jack, Oly Mackerel
Mayhem's Magic

Captain Mayhem weaves his magic.

Birthday Treasure
Blackbeard and Captain Jack assist the birthday lad in openin' his treasure chest.
This be not the entire crew, but each has his or her own talents that are sure to make for grand adventure no matter how often ye sail aboard the Black Raven. Aside from the activities mentioned here, ye can also partake of their special event charters (like pirate weddings) or have your corporate outin' aboard this pirate ship. For more information ye want to be visitin' their website, but ye will find them berthed at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina on Avenida Menedez. Sailin' with the Black Ravens is an adventure ye soon won't forget!
Copyright © 2011 Cindy Vallar
Photographs and images are also copyrighted and used with permission from Joe O'Steen and the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
Don't be plunderin' without askin'.

Earlier Pirate Adventures
Corpus Christi, Texas
Newport News, Virginia
Manteo, North Carolina
Salem, Massachusetts
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
St. Augustine, Florida

Pirate Articles
Pirate Links
Book Reviews
Thistles & Pirates

Contact Me
Click on the Cannon to Contact Me