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Pirates ahoy!

April 27, 2010

There’s a lot of talk about pirates – or to give them their proper name – pyrates – today, thanks to the delightfully dotty folk of Brixham who are attempting the World Record Pirate Gathering on Sunday. But however passionate these part-time sea-dogs are, they are mere amateurs compared to the truly outstanding pirates that I met in Key West, Florida at their annual Pirates in Paradise gathering.

In the States, being a pirate seems to be a perfectly reasonable full-time gig.


Bone Island Buccaneers Fight Circle

Bone Island Buccaneers Fight Circle

The pirates that travel from across the USA to meet up in Key West take their pirating VERY seriously indeed. Each pirate has their own backstory. Their “costume” is fully researched to be historically accurate. They try their very best, bless them, to mimic Johnny Depp in full Cap’n Sparrow twisted mockney at all times. They drink mead. They even have blunderbuss which they gleefully discharge with a bellow, “Fire in the hole!”.

The home-town pirate troupe in Key West, the Bone Island Buccaneers, meet three times a week to practice cannon drill, shanty singing and sword play. The dress as pirates, well, pretty much all the time. I met a particularly excellent chap who genuinely had a wooden leg. He lost one of his own through diabetes, demanded that they fit a stump, moved on to a house boat, got a parrot and now IS a pirate. He’s also a patient-advocate for those who’ve suffered amputation. I asked him how on earth people reacted when he clomped into their hospital room after the trauma of having a leg removed. He looked at me and grinned. “They either laugh or start hysterically crying. Shows them that if I can get by with a wooden stump, they’ll be just fine with a prosthetic limb.”

On board the Good Ship Wolf

On board the Good Ship Wolf

Pirates in Paradise takes place in November 26th – December 5th. It’s their 11th year and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had.

Here’s the piece I wrote about it for the Sunday Mirror. Go. It’s awesome.


From → Travel writing

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