Alexander Spotswood

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.”