The History of Maritime Piracy
Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Updated 17 August 2015
ye be wantin’ pirate adventures? In this here modern
rarely prey in Atlantic and Caribbean waters, wherever can
or laddie find fun-filled treasures?
'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
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
descend on the oldest city in North America to parade
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
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
Aside from his maritime tales, he be the President and
Commodore of the St.
Pirate University and makes and sells Saucy Jack's
Hats. Below left be his tent at the St. Augustine Pirate
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
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
adventure filled with treasures galore -- those from our
somewhat notorious past, and includin' some whats once
belonged to real
pirates, such as Thomas Tew's treasure chest -- the only
in the world. The pictures below provide ye with a
glimpse o' what the Key West museum featured before
'twas closed in
Street in Port
Jamaica afore 1692
Main Deck of a
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
apprentices to be seein' a part of history that teachers
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
Kari Cobham, Director of Media Communications. Most
weren't yet in place, as the
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
be lucky because ye dinna have to imagine. The museum
has given me
permission to share photos from their galleries with ye.
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
This be the St. Augustine
Museum under construction the day after our visit in
St. Augustine Pirate
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
Robert Searle, who both attacked St. Augustine (at
different times). Ye
can view authentic pirate artifacts and learn about the
Augustine, whose portraits be done by local artists. Or
pirate apprentices fancy interactin' with touchscreens
to learn more
about the brethren of the past.
Cindy Stavely and Elaine Fraser, General Manager
at the Oldest Wooden
Schoolhouse, check out pirate captain Robert
Searles (left) and Sir
Francis Drake (right).
through the award-winning interactive Book of Pirates
Next step aboard a pirate ship's main deck.
This fully interactive
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.
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.
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
editions of pirate books, some what were written by the
themselves, such as Alexandre Exquemelin's 1684 edition
of Buccaneers of
America. Ye can also
be opening the discovery drawers to find the artifacts
Shhh! Best not to wake the captain! And don't be
forgettin' to feast your eyes on a real Jolly Roger.
captain before completion
captain after opening
owner of Pirate Fashions N Fotos, checks out the Jolly
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
Augustine Director of
Heritage Tourism and Historic Preservation Dana Ste.
Clair tries his
hand at firin' one of them.
Dinna fear! All ye who visited the old
museum will remember the
spine-tingling Below Deck exhibit designed by Disney
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
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
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
Avery. Ye learn about Calico Jack, women pirates,
execution. If ye be a notorious pirate, like Captain
Kidd, ye might
find yourself hangin' around in a gibbet like the fella
A punished pirate hangs
a warnin' to all who pass of the fate that awaits pirates.
Shipwreck Island be just the place for scalawags what
treasure, such as pieces of eight and gold bars. Two
pirates -- one in
the hole, one out -- be diggin' for treasure, perhaps
discover a chest like the 400-year-old chest below.
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
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
where ye can see the jacket Errol Flynn wore in Captain Blood and
sword and cursed coin used in Pirates
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
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
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'
Gatherin' ended. 'Twas dusk while we waited to board,
but even so she's
bonny ship styled after a galleon.
of the Black
Gunnar Hedqwist be the owner of
the Black Raven 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
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
'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
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
The crew entertained us throughout the
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.
Mayhem, Blackbeard, Black Rose,
Captain Jack, Oly Mackerel
Captain Mayhem weaves his magic.
Captain Jack assist the
birthday lad in openin' his treasure
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
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!
2011 Cindy Vallar
Photographs and images
copyrighted and used with permission from Joe O'Steen
and the St.
Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
Don't be plunderin'
Click on the Cannon to Contact Me