…. Next to Blackbeard, Captain Kidd probably has one of the most notorious reputations as a pirate. He’s been perceived as vicious, bloodthirsty, conniving, dishonest, and treacherous. Hey, wait a minute! That could describe most of those folks posing as politicians in Washington, D.C. But I’ll save that for another time.
….The fact is, Captain William Kidd, when judged by the standards of the day, was hardly any of those things. When conjuring up visions of diabolical pirates, I’m afraid Kidd would likely come in at the bottom of the list.
…. Consider the following. How many pirates received a commission from the king himself to hunt pirates and attack ships from countries at war with England? Commissions like these were generally called letters of marque.
…. Before he set one foot on a ship, Kidd’s venture was more business than swashbuckling adventure. He had entered into a business pact with Lord Bellomont, Robert Livingston, and several other influential men of England who helped bankroll his efforts. The expectation, of course, was that Kidd would bring home lucrative treasure for their troubles.
…. The general rule of thumb for pirates and privateers can best be summed up in four words: “No prey, no pay.” Nobody was getting anything if ships weren’t caught.
…. With these salient points in mind, grab your passport and your cutlass because we’re about to sail into history:
…. The year was 1697 and the men who crewed ships in those days were a hearty, anxious, hungry lot. Hungry for adventure, hungry for fairness, hungry for freedom, but mostly hungry for money.
…. A share of the spoils was a prime motivator to risk life and limb on the high seas where if a cannonball didn’t get you, a terrible storm likely would. And the crew well understood the difference between pirate ships, those with a letter of marquis, and enemy and neutral vessels. Practically no one gave a damn. Money was money.
…. But a captain like Kidd knew the fine line between attacking vessels of foreign flags on your legal list and those that were off limits. Walking that fine line with your crew was more hazardous than walking the proverbial gangplank.
…. When Kidd’s first months at sea produced no pirates and no ill-gotten goods, his crew grew restless, then angry, then downright hostile. Any ship began to look good. Still, Kidd went out of his way to stay within the bounds of the law much to the ire of his men. Eventually, neutral ships and those belonging to allies of the king induced cannon fever in the crew. One night his gunner, William Moore, got into it with Kidd because he refused to attack a Dutch ship. Moore goaded him so badly before his men that Kidd flew into a rage and, picking up a lead bucket, slammed it over his head, an action he no doubt immediately regretted. The gunner died the next day.
…We’re a little more than two weeks into the new year, and King Neptune is already making waves. We’ve had hurricane Alex in the North Atlantic, lashing out at the Azores. We haven’t seen the likes of a January hurricane since 1955. To make matters worse, Tropical storm Pauli formed off Hawaii last week, only the third time this has happened in forty years. Let’s hope we haven’t awakened the wrath of King Neptune. He’s got plenty to be angry about.
…Last week you read about some of the things we need to focus on this year. This week I’d like to direct your attention to a few others. If we continue to make progress, Neptune will have a lot to smile about come December, and who knows? Maybe he’ll go back to sleep. .
… Ocean acidification. Given the size of the sea, this may seem like a pretty remote threat, but the stark truth is, it’s impacting our seas and the creatures in them. When we burn fossil fuels, the carbon dioxide falls not only back to earth but the sea. The oceans can absorb only so much of this crap till it becomes more and more acidic, affecting every single species of life from coral to sharks and whales. The more we reduce our carbon imprint, the healthier the seas will be.
…The slaughter of bottlenose dolphins at Taiji Cove in Japan. Last year over 500 dolphins were driven into the cove where they splashed helplessly in nets trying to reach others in their pod. A 100 were then slaughtered, many driven onto a beach where their spines were cut, supposedly so they’d experience less pain. How’s that for being compassionate!
…The environmental group Sea Shepherd launched Operation Henkaku on September 01 last year. If you want to help stop this barbaric travesty, you can do two things: watch their videos, one of which is a livestream, at www.seashepherd.org; second, you can donate to help bring their efforts to fruition. Mailing address is Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, PO Box 96059, Washington, DC 20090-6059.
…The release of bottlenose dolphins and whales held in captivity across the globe. Performing stupid tricks aren’t the only unnatural acts these helpless creatures are forced to endure. These highly social animals are often inbred to keep the travesty going.
…If you ever swam with a dolphin or applauded at a SeaWorld when it did cute tricks, you’re part of the problem. Perhaps you never considered that these highly social animals crave each other’s company not isolated in a prison of concrete and water. They may not be ordering lattes with their cousins at Starbucks or gathering for services on Sunday, but the presence of these animals in the ocean is just as sacred as what any humans do in church. When will you see the light, brothers and sisters, and work for their release? Continue reading →
With the beginning of a new year, it’s wise to set a course straight and true not only in our personal lives but in King Neptune’s realm as well. Remember, if you don’t set a goal and aim for it, at the end of the year you’re going to be no closer to it. With the problems that face the sea, we can’t afford to sit out one more year hoping things will get better.
Anyone in love with the sea or concerned about its health as well as those who work or play on it should keep a scrutinizing eye on the following issues:
… Coral bleaching. When coral becomes stressed either from water that’s too warm or from chemicals and sediments that don’t belong there, it turns white, a sure sign of a huge problem. If the problem doesn’t go away, the coral will die. That’s a huge problem. Coral beds are the nurseries for all kinds of fish. Kill off those on the lower chain, kill off those above it.
… Overfishing. This doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. A lot of species of fish are being over fished all around the world. When they can’t rebound, they die off till extinction becomes a reality. For millions of people from a wide panorama of cultures, it means the difference between a sustainable living and a life of poverty. Overfishing has actually contributed to Somalian piracy; with other countries illegally fishing in local waters, options are limited for fishermen trying to feed their family.
… Excessive shark hunting. This includes finning, a process of removing the fins of a shark while it is still alive then throwing it back into the sea where it will die. Who cares about a few sharks? They deserve what they get when you consider the blood thirsty creatures they are as evidenced by JAWS. You should. To set the record straight, people are not on the main menu of sharks. They’re not even listed on the dessert menu. Sharks have a voracious appetite but it’s for fish. When sharks disappear from the ocean in great numbers, the rest of the oceanic environment is in deep trouble.
The Dawn of a New Year has broken, a leap year none the less, and many of you still have no idea where you want to set sail.
To be sure, you want this year to be different- you want this to be the year to make deep and profound changes in your life. For some those changes are personal, for others financial; yet for others the changes are more spiritual. But beyond that vague ache in your heart, you’re not sure where to set your course.
I say to you, to set a new course in the new year, follow your Pirate Heart. “Follow my Pirate Heart?” you ask incredulously. Yes, and if you haven’t before, go to my website Uncommon Mariners and read the section “About Me.” It’s all about discovering your pirate heart and following your pirate dreams.
Pirates more than 200 years ago especially Caribbean pirates became pirates for a lot of reasons, only one of them being financial gain. Beyond money was the underlying hunger to regain control of their lives. In 2016, that’s what being a pirate is all about, at least on a more profound and symbolic level.
The quintessential question posed before you at the beginning of this new year is very basic. What do I need to do to reclaim my pirate life, the life I was born to lead?
Here are a few questions you should consider before you go to bed each night of 2016 or at least when you start each day: Continue reading →