treasure chest

A TALE OF THREE PIRATES, A FLOOD, AND A SUNNY AFTERNOON

JOLLY ROGER 8X10 FINAL What a day

I was going to follow up last week’s blog with fifteen more worthy maritime organizations you might be interested in joining to help save the oceans, but as you no doubt know by now, South Carolina has been inundated with torrential rains that have had widespread consequences. None of them good. In fact, most schools in South Carolina were closed from Tuesday through Friday presumably because of flooding even though many are nowhere near a flood zone.

I find this cruelly ironic since those four days were knock dead gorgeous with sunshine from sunrise to sunset. Given the fact that many of the past ten or eleven days were filled with forecasts of heavy rains, thunderstorms, or clouds.

And while the historic rains had no good consequences, the fact is they did bring two blessings to me. With my daughter and son-in-law preoccupied with their jobs, my grandchildren Luke and Nora had nowhere to go. So for three afternoons, my wife and I harbored them in our house. And what a particular harbor it was. I think Jimmy Buffett would be proud.

One day we played the afternoon away on a weight bench that served as a pirate ship much as it has for the past four years. With plenty of pirate swords, hats, a real compass, and several treasure chests, there was booty aplenty to plunder.

But the best day was Thursday. No pirate ship that day. Captain Bill had something else planned. He hooked them young scalawags with a treasure hunt. Well, it wasn’t really a treasure hunt. The truth be told we was burying treasure, we was! On me special island in the back of me secret hideout.

But you can’t bury treasure without something to bury. So we rifled through me boxes and drawers filled with all kinds of treasures. If me memory serves me right, there was a small moon, an oversized coin of Florida, a coin with skull and crossbones on one side and a genuine pirate ship on the other. Me grandson threw in some jewels, the likes of which no pirate has ever seen. Rubies, emeralds, and more coins.

And so there we was, mates, two young pirates and this old salt, slipping out our secret door and into the unknown wild. Me grandson with a chest loaded with booty in one hand, his pirate sword in the other; me granddaughter with a treasure map tight in her fist and a pen in the other because what good is burying treasure if ye don’t know where ye hid it? Continue reading →

Got Vacation?

SUMMER BREEZES

Someone asked me recently if pirates ever took vacations back when they sailed the Spanish Main. “It must have been nice; all that gold to spend in Port Royal on rum and wenches, and going out plundering when you felt like it.”

While it seems like an idyllic life, the harsh glare of truth tells a far different story. Many pirates had their favorite places to operate. Like the pirates of today, some chose the Indian Ocean. Others the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.  The fact is staying in port in a half dazed state for incredible lengths of time wasn’t really an option.

For one thing, the call of the sea was never far from their ears. Nor was the news of ships laden with treasure. Eventually, the long arm of the law grew closer and closer forcing them to look for new hideouts and strongholds. Add to that many pirates planned their year around the seasons.

Quite a few pirates followed the sun, so to speak, leaving the beautiful blue-green waters of the Caribbean for points north. They’re adventures might stretch all the way to New Foundland before returning south much like a cowboy following the rodeo circuit.

Perhaps you heard of this sailor quite at home in the Caribbean. His name was Blackbeard, and he held Charleston ransom for a treasure chest of medicine. Farther north, he had his cozy connections with the governor of North Carolina who gave him refuge in the bays of his coast after raiding ships off Virginia. He became such a pain in the neck to Alexander Spotswood, governor of Virginia, that it prompted him to send Lieutenant Maynard to resolve the situation once and for all. The end result was Blackbeard’s head jutting from the bowsprit when Maynard sailed into what is now known as Blackbeard‘s Point at Hampton, Virginia.

So if you’re a pirate still working on your Arrrrrrgh or someone with a pirate heart working a nine-to-five job, remember life wasn’t all rum and cokes for the Men of the Sea. This summer whether you’re sailing to the Caribbean or trekking to your backyard, tip one back for those daring and grimy pirates of the Caribbean. Just be careful not to spill your drink for, as Benjamin Franklin said: “A little thirst is a dangerous thing.”