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These are a few articles from past issues of "No Quarter Given", to give you an idea of the topics covered.
|Guidelines for Flying Pirates|
|Throwing a Buccaneer Bash|
|Pirate Party Games|
|The Search for Blackbeard's Skull|
|The Pirates of California|
|Buccanear Cuisine of the Carribean|
|Careening Yer Vessel Buccaneer Style|
GUIDELINES FOR FLYING PIRATES
by Claire Britton-Warren
From the September 2005 No Quarter Given
2 weeks before flying: Call the airline you are flying with. Let them know whom you are and that you’re a historic reenactor and that you’re planning to travel with ______ functional or non-functional weapons. All weapons must be checked in as baggage and may not be brought in with carry-on luggage. Remember that even non-functional weapons are treated exactly the same as functional weapons.
the airline for their current recommendations on how to approach the check-in
counter. With alerts and procedures changing daily, this can change drastically,
depending upon who is working that day and if there have been heightened alerts.
Let them know if you and your gear will have been exposed to black powder and
ask how they would like you to proceed if you have.
Most, if not all, airlines do not allow black powder in checked or carry-on baggage, so you should arrange to get black powder at your destination. Some airlines allow Pyrodex (a black powder substitute), but check first.
1 week before flying: Go to the check-in counter as recommended the previous week by your airline. Go at about the same time you’ll be checking in the following week so that hopefully you’ll have the same counter attendants the following week. Bring the case that your weaponry will be in EMPTY without the weaponry.
At the counter, be patient and friendly. If at all possible, present a business card. Do NOT under any circumstances arrive costumed. This was strongly recommended by Southwest Airlines. Be calm, friendly, patient and professional.
the counter attendant know that in a week you’ll be coming back to make your
flight and that at that time you’ll be bringing your weaponry, and that you’re
there today to get the carrying case(s) inspected to make sure that they are in
compliance with current regulations. Let the attendant inspect the case(s) and
be sure to ask if they want them locked, unlocked or tie wrapped with extra ties
taped to the outside. Again, there are no set procedures and this can change
drastically, from attendant to attendant, airline to airline.
Packing: Follow the recommendations of your airline to the letter. Make sure sword points will not pop through the sides of baggage. Have business cards accessible from a purse or wallet, not in the luggage where the weapons are carried.
The day of the flight: Arrive extra early to allow for a weapons inspection. Go straight to the counter where you were directed to go by the airlines. Don’t make any detours or stops at other places. Again, do not arrive costumed, and have your business cards ready. Have the baggage locked, unlocked, or tie-wrapped as directed the previous week.
At the check in counter, introduce yourself, present your business card and tell them VERBALLY what weaponry you are carrying. Then ask them to instruct you when they are ready for you to open your baggage for inspection. Be friendly and patient. Don’t make any jokes about bombs, hijacking, terrorism, religion etc. Follow their instructions carefully.
Remember that most airline attendants will be unfamiliar with historic weaponry, so they may ask you to explain how the firing mechanism works. Do so patiently if asked. Be sure to remind the counter attendant to call ahead to the CTX (X-ray) machine operator to let them know that your weaponry is coming through. If an operator is not informed and sees a weapon on the scanner, they will notify the authorities.
Quite often, even if you follow the instructions given at the counter about locking or unlocking your luggage, the inspectors further down the line may prefer things differently. So don’t get angry if your lock is broken open upon arrival, despite your best efforts to have everything in order.
Please note these guidelines are for domestic flights only & regulations may change frequently. It’s always best to call ahead and visit the airline in advance whenever possible.
On return flights, it is often not possible to have a baggage inspection prior to your flight. So if you will be departing from the same airport, I recommend stopping at the departure counter on your arrival and checking with them then. If you do not have the opportunity to visit the airport before the flight, definitely call ahead and ask what procedures to follow at your airline’s counter.
American Airlines' Transporting Firearms Policies
Southwest Airlines' Traveling with Firearms Policies
JetBlue's Firearm Policies
THROWING A BUCCANEER BASH
by Christine Markel Lampe
Who among us didn't play pirates as children? Kids love the adventure, the freedom, & the excuse not to follow the rules. Which of us hasn't built a fort, and run up the Jolly Roger? We have fond memories of Peter Pan, and Treasure Island. A pirate party is a great way to celebrate the romance and adventure of piracy. Michael Stevenson remembers one party: "I remember a Pirate Party (probably a birthday) my parents threw for me when I must have been about 4 or 5. It was a hell of a lot of fun; lots of costumes, and best of all, a treasure hunt in the backyard with map. My father had buried a treasure chest full of fun party toys and we had to find it using clues from the map. The map had burned edges of course, and lots of illustrations allover it." He may not remember the occasion, but Michael fondly remembers the party to this day. Your shipmates will long remember a great party.
For the party-goers, the excitement of the party begins with the invitations. Rather than a simple announcement, make them something special, with a hint of the adventure to come. You might wish to print your own invitations, using parchment paper, perhaps fashioned as a treasure map. You could even scorch the edges for a distressed look (not a project for the children). While a little more expensive, you could roll them up scroll-fashion, and tie them up with a red, gold or black ribbon, and/or seal them with wax, and send them in mailing tubes. Or send them in "glass" bottles (use plastic bottles with the labels removed - plastic 20 oz. Coke bottles should work well). A doubloon (see below for obtaining "doubloons"), or a jewel, could be included with the message, which needs to be shown to gain entrance to the party. A small bit of metallic gold or silver confetti, obtained from your local party store, could be placed in the invitation, so that whoever opens the invitation is showered with it.
Now, where should you hold this party? Of course, a pirate party can happen anywhere - in a house, yard, garage, basement. But, a special setting could make it even more fun. On a shore (beach or lakeside) or by a pool adds the element of water to your party (swimming, diving for buried treasure, boat races, etc.). You should arrange for a lifeguard if one is not already present. Have the party on a ship or boat (a tall ship would be best). Capt. Siobhan (Leigh Ann Hussey) chartered the Hawaiian Chieftain for an afternoon pirate cruise, and she was given the honor of touching off the cannon as it was her birthday. You might be able to arrange for a cruise (all day, or just a few hours), or, for a less expensive option, you could have the party aboard the vessel at dockside (for a few hours, or perhaps have an overnight slumber party). Consider historic settings: a park, fort, wharf, an historic building (whether outside on the lawns, or inside). An expedition to an island could be exciting. Getting to the island could be part of the adventure: use the chartered ship mentioned above, ferry boat, speed boats, canoes, or even swimming if it's not that far. There are many pirate or nautical-themed restaurants, miniature golf courses, and amusement parks that could be used for a piratical party. Many Renaissance Faires have party areas set aside for rental.
Once you have a place for your party, you'll want to decorate it. You could use nautical props to give it a dockside or shipboard look, or use palm trees, a cabana or grass shack, sand and fish for a tropical island look. A evening patio party can be transformed with several tiki torches, strings of skull & crossbones lights, and paper lanterns. Akula suggests: "A couple of chests, full of old Mardi Gras coins and plastic beaded necklaces, half buried in the sand (if you don't have enough coins or trinkets to fill the chest, then fill it about three-quarters with crumpled newspaper or, preferably, brown paper shopping bags and spray-paint the paper gold). Then sprinkle a few handfuls of coins and beads over top of the painted paper, and (especially in tiki torch light) the effect is achieved." Capt. Siobhan makes a similar suggestion: "Mardi Gras necklaces, and Jolly Rogers. When Capt. Ian did the "Haunted Pirate Ship at Halloween", he tricked out the Chieftain with costume jewels, sea-chests, an amusing skull-with-electric-candle light, small arms and blades, and lots of fake cobwebs." To recreate a shipboard look, she suggests: "Lines and shrouds (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and fancy ropework."
You can have a lot of fun coming up with great pirate food. For a children's party, you can come up with a lot of silly pirate stuff. Make up ghastly pirate names for any food or drink you serve, like "Monkey's Blood Punch" or "Shark Gristle Cake" and such. Decorate the cake with treasure island decorations. Lego pirate toys make great cake decorations. It would be easy to design skull 'n' crossbones cookies. Cannonballs could be made from grey-frosted round "cupcakes" & chocolate ice cream scoops. For a challenge make the little scallawags eat dessert with their hands tied behind their backs (have plenty of napkins and maybe aprons handy).
For a more adult party you might want a pig roast, luau style. Turtle soup, fish and seafood buffet, anything Hawaiian, tropical or Caribbean would be appropriate. See the "NQG Pyrate Prymer", pg. 29 for an article on "Buccaneer Cuisine" and some recipes, including Jerk Pork - Maroon Style.
For recipes and more food ideas:
Basic salamagundi instructions can be found at: http://www.piratemuseum.com/edsalad.html
For authentic English recipes from the late 18th c: http://web.wwnorton.com/pob/SpottedD/
Cayman Island cooking: http://www.caymans.com/Recipes.html
For luau instructions Hawaiian style: http://www.hisurf.com/Luau/Luau2.html
Pirates and drinking goes hand in hand. Of course, if it's a children's party, you can make a pirate punch from tropical juices. Even if it's an adult party, you should have a non-alcoholic alternative available. Several of our shipmates recommended various rum punch and pirate punch recipes. A real Seaman's Rum Punch recipe was given in the July '94 NQG. Other festive punches have been created. Capt. Siobhan told us: "The real centerpiece of Jess' party is the Pyrate Punch. Not for the unwary or the underaged. As Jess says, 'Pyrate Punch consists of Rum, Rum, Orange Curacao & frozen fruit juices.' ...It tastes great, and innocuous, but trust me, you don't want to have too many cups of it." Jessica confirmed the mixture as Capt. Morgans, Bacadi Dark, Orange Curacao and the juices are usually pineapple, orange & lemonade.
For more recipes check out Capt. Morgans site at: http/://www.rum.com
Encourage your guests to choose a colorful pirate name. For the less flamboyant types, or for smaller children, you might have a chart ready-made, by the entrance. The first column lists descriptions words such as Red, Black, Nasty, Tall, Mad, One-Eye, Smilin', Fancy, Pegleg, etc.. The second column gives names: Jack, Rita, Ted, Rosie, Francois, Dan, Bart, Meg, Juan, Thomas, Billy, etc. You could also add a third column giving an epithet such as "the Terrible", "the Forgetful", "the Hook", "the Mighty", "the Gruesome", etc. Have them choose one name from each column. Or you can make it a chance game - throwing darts, or tossing coins on the chart.
In the invitations you might request your guests come in appropriate costume. If your friends are re-enactors or faire folk, they will need no further encouragement. But children, and non-reenacting adult friends might need some suggestions. You might include some local costume rental shops, or refer them to the article on "Improvising a Costume" in the Nov. 1996 NQG. We give you limited permission to reprint this article for distribution to your party guests.
Around Halloween is a good time to stock up on costume pieces and props. They aren't all cheesy-looking, but even the cheesy-looking ones can be fun. You can often find plastic cutlasses, fake hooks, beards, eyepatches and great makeup kits during this time. If your guests do not come in costume, or if you wish to enhance their costumes, you can provide inexpensive pirate hats (paper or plastic), eye patches, mardis gras beads, and other easy to put on costume pieces as they arrive. These could be items they borrow for the party, or could be considered as party favors.
You can get lots of silly pirate costume ideas from the movie "Down Periscope", when the sub crew turns pirate.
Movies & Music
Pirate movies, swashbuckling sound tracks, "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum". These are all great for adding to the atmosphere. At some parties, I've seen two rooms set aside for these activities - one room for constant pirate movie viewing, and another room for playing and performing pirate music & songs.
There's a wealth of pirate movies available (see the list given in the "NQG Pyrate Prymer"). Many of them are perfect for a group viewing experience. For the youngun's I would suggest: Hook, Goonies, Disney's Blackbeard's Ghost, Muppet Treasure Island, and Peter Pan. For an older audience: Yellowbeard, Down Periscope, Captain Blood, Crimson Pirate, and just about any other pirate movie. We found that the video enjoyment was greatly enhanced if you provide some rubber-tipped dart guns, and let your guests aim at the bad guys on the TV screen (be sure to remove any breakables near the TV)
For background music, you can get several albums of swashbuckling soundtracks (Muppet Treasure Island, Sea Hawk, Crimson Pirate), or sea shantey collections. Several piratical albums have been reviewed in past issues of NQG (Pyrates Royale, Jolly Rogers, Toucan Pirates, Man Overboard & Pirate Jenny). Many of these, with purchasing information are listed in the NQG Pirate Song Book (also see pg. 8).
For sing-a-longs, print out the words to several pirate songs, or at least teach the chorus to the audience, and then let one person sing the verses. Again, the NQG Pirate Song Book is a good resource for this. If you can arrange for live musicians, all the better for your sing-along.
You have the setting, the decor, the food, music and guests. But, NOW what do you and your guests do?
Here are several ideas. The first several are more appropriate for children, though many of these adapt well for adult enjoyment. The later ideas are more for older party goers:
--Pin the Patch (or Pegleg) on the Pirate, or Pin the X on the Treasure Map
--Read Pirate Stories: Akula tells us: 'My favorite ones to tell were the defeat of Blackbeard by Lt. Maynard, the escape of Anne Bonney and Mary Read, and a few dashing adventures of Captain "Calico" Jack Rackham. Artistic license is, of course, de rigeur."
--Face Painting: Put on tattoos, add scars, earrings, scarves, mustaches, eye patches, black eyes, red sores, pimples, "dirt" -- to complete their pirate outfits
--Decorate a spyglass: On empty paper towel rolls, use markers, stickers, glue, tin foil, ribbon & glitter to make a spyglass worth stealin'.
--Cannon ball toss with black water balloons.
-- Little Kids' Treasure Hunt: For little kids who might be overwhelmed by a competitive treasure hunt, you can make a non-linear hunt like one. Instead of everyone going from the same point onward, pairs of them can be scattered to different places via their first clue (given pictorially since the kids are too young to read) sealed as a message in a bottle with the treasure map. (They have to dig the treasure map out of the sandbox with a "golden" plastic spoon, btw.) Then, at each "treasure" station, the adventurers have to perform piratical feats (swordfight with soft sticks, dig in sand box for treasure chest and/or keys, say "I'm not a pirate, I'm a redistribution economist!" with a mouthful of saltines, repeat a pirate song phrase, etc.). Completing the piratical tasks earns them an X to cross off locations on the map, and then they can be sent off to the next station with another clue given verbally by the adults supervising at each station. When the little scavengers turn in a map with all the Xs, they get a prize, and get to bounce in the bouncy house (POTC themed) while the grownups set up lunch.
--Hack Open the Treasure Chest: A pinata filled w/ fake coins, fake jewels, mardi gras coin necklaces, rings, crowns, chocolate coins, candy necklaces. (At kids' parties the guests rarely exhibit restraint to allow the littler ones to get prizes, so it can help to keep some of the better "prize" swag reserved for them, and let the big kids gorge themselves on candy.)
--Teach Sailor's Knots
--Sing Pirate Songs
--Treasure Hunt - clues, riddles, maps
--Rat Fishing: provide a pile of fake rubber rats (try one of the nature-type stores at the mall) & a fishing rod with fishing line and a rubber band at the end instead of a hook. The idea is to "hook" a rat with the rubber band around a leg, tail or whisker, and successfully hoist it to a certain area.
--Boat Races: (using RC boats, or paper boats made at the party)
--Toys: Lego pirates or Playmobil pirates (adults actually enjoy these)
--Nerf Sword Fights: Akula suggests: "If you are throwing a children's party, I'd avoid the cheap plastic pirate swords. Although they look great and add to the atmosphere, we all know how readily children will lapse into pounding on each other with them, and they can hurt. Instead, try picking up some Nerf fencing swords. (They do sell them.)" The foam insulation from water heater pipes can make great improvised Nerf swords.
--Rubber Dart Guns or Dart Flintlocks (they do exist): for target practice (see suggestion for video watching above)
--Buried Treasure: for a sandy area, bury a treasure chest full of goodies, party favours, refreshments, and other items, provide a map and clues, and let the group work together to find it
-- Pirate Board Games: Pirateer (quick, simple, easy to learn)
--Computer Pirate Games: "Monkey Island" series, "Pirate's Gold" - these could be fun for a small group to solve together
--Dicing & other period games of chance (see "Games Pirates Play" in the May '97 NQG)
A very involved game is to have your fellow pirates accumulate jewels or coins throughout the festivities. They get coins for: coming in costume, winning the costume contest, playing games of skill and chance, answering riddles, and finding treasure. But, they also have to pay out their coins, to pay for drinks (they can buy "on credit", but should expect some verbal abuse), buy "treasure maps" from suspicious looking scurvy knaves, participate in the grand auction, and buy door prizes.
For coins, you can buy plastic doubloons from Oriental Trading Co. (see supplies list), or use poker chips spray painted gold, silver, & copper. Foreign coins also work. Joseph Ruckman uses his left over pile of yen from Japan. For the jewels, you can purchase beads or fake pearls from a jewelry supply shop. Or look for those pretty colored glass pieces used in vases to hold the cut flowers.
Though more expensive, you could recruit some professional pirates or other performers for your party. Hire a costumed pirate crew to come in and "take captives". They could hold the birthday person, or other guest of honor, for ransom. They could "force" all the guests to become pirates, and make them sign the articles. The pirates could bring with them other entertainers: belly dancers, magicians, trained parrots, fire eaters, sword fighters/ stunt crew, or musicians.
Time to Party!
Pirates always had a reputation for throwing great parties and now, with all these ideas from experienced party hosts and guests, your next festive gathering should live up to that reputation. And don't forget to send us an invitation!
Hearty thanks go to all those who contributed ideas and party suggestions: Akula, Smilin' Jack (Erik Berliner), Black Bart (Joseph Ruckman), Capt. Siobhan (Leigh Ann Hussey), Michael Stevenson, Bob God, Jessica Weiss, Robert "Hurricane" Zerr, Lance Oszko, and the Port Royal Privateers' Plastic Pirate Parties.
Party Games for Pirates
By Robert "Hurricane" Zerr
--Cannon Ball Toss
This is a game for two players - it is similar to the egg toss, except that you use coconuts that are painted black. The object is to go farther and farther apart until there is only one team able to catch the cannonball. Yes, this game hurts if you=re drinking and your coordination is off.
--Pirate Obstacle Course
Pirates run a small obstacle course composed of a large cargo net spread horizontally across the ground (they climb on their backs across the ground up it), crawl through a whiskey barrel, pour a pitcher of rum (tea or colored water) into four tankards to the brim and carry them on a tray, walk the plank (teeter totter style) with the tray, run to the end of the course, dump the rum into another pitcher (up to a marked line) and then run back again at a full tilt to the start to tag off by ringing the ship=s bell. This is a team event - tag style. First team to finish wins a bottle of real rum!
Write cryptic clues and hide them throughout the property (the more land the better). If near water, put some clues in bottles tied off to land with ropes. Hang them from trees, under rocks, in nooks and crannies. One clue leads to the other. Teams divide into ship crews and cast off at the firing of the pistol. First team to solve all the clues and make it back to ring the bell wins the treasure chest of goodies.
--Open the Treasure Chest
We do this one with the kids a lot. We let kids select a key from our tankard and then they get a shot at opening the chest. Some kids get a key that works, others get non-opening keys. Inside can be trinkets from Oriental Trading Company or pirate goodies. We usually give beads and eye patches to the kids who lose as a consolation prize
THE SEARCH FOR BLACKBEARDS
by John Walker
(reprinted from the May 1996 issue of "No Quarter Given"
boarded him, and to it
They fell with Sword and Pistol too;
They had Courage, and did show it,
Killing of the Pirate's Crew,
Teach and Maynard on the Quarter,
Fought it out most manfully,
Maynard's Sword did cut him shorter,
Losing his head, he there did die.
Downfall of Piracy
(possibly by Benjamin Franklin)
My story begins in the
port of Charlestown, S. Carolina in January of the year 1990.
There I chanced upon a story written by Judge Charles H. Whedbee
about the silver-plated cup made from the skull of Edward Teach.
According to the Judge, after Teachs demise at the hands of Lt. Maynard, his head was cut off and eventually placed on a pole at the entrance to Norfolk, VA as a warming to other pirates. As the story goes, the skull was rescued by some of the "Brethren of the Coast" & fashioned by some local silversmith into a silver cup bearing the curse "Deth to Spotswoode" engraved on the rim. This cup appears at various times over the next two centuries. According to Judge Whedbee, it was used in a number of college fraternity initiations, both held and drunk from by him, on Ocracoke Island in the 1930s. He had been trying to relocate the cup & had a standing offer of $1,000 to anyone who could produce the silver skull. All attempts by him to locate it had met with failure.
In July 1990, I began my search at Blackbeards hometown of Bath, N.C. I placed a call to "Historic Bath", the local historical organization of the area. They were quite familiar with Capt. Blackbeard and knew of the stories about his skull, but could provide me with no new information.
At this point, I decided to go right to the source of the story that got me started, right to Judge Whedbee. I obtained the number of Judge Whedbees office on the morning of July 11. My call was answered by the mellow-toned drawl of a Southern gentleman informing me via his answering machine, that he was out of his office. I left my name and number, and a brief message stating that I was trying to track down Blackbeards skull. I said no more in case this was the wrong Charles Whedbee and sat back to await a reply.
I received no word from Judge Whedbee. On Aug. 29, I was in Pawleys Island, S. Carolina, and came upon a book called "Blackbeard the Pirate, A Reappraisal of his Life and Times", by Professor Robert E. Lee. It is an excellent book, probably the most complete work on Blackbeard. It is thorough and detailed with footnotes and cross reference galore. Even better, it mentions Blackbeards skull.
As I had yet received no word from Judge Whedbee, I thought I would try contacting people in the business of dealing in nautical & antique militaria.
The first dealer who came to mind was Norm Flayderman of Milford, CT. He was a big militaria dealer/collector with a quirk for the exotic & esoteric. At one point he had offered for sale an item reputed to be Napoleon Bonapartes penis. If anyone was to have knowledge of Blackbeards Skull, I figured it would be him.
I called Milford information and was very surprised to learn that they had no listing either business or residence for a Norman Flayderman. I next called "The Soldier Shop" in New York City where I was informed that Mr. Flayderman had moved his operation to Florida, but had left no address or phone number.
On a hunch, I called Fort Lauderdale information. I knew that years before, another big military antiques dealer, Robert Abels, had moved to that area, so just maybe Mr. Flayderman followed suit.
I hit the jackpot on my very first call. The gentle man I spoke to was indeed from Milford, CT. and was indeed the man who had sold Napoleons penis. Did he ever hear of, or have any knowledge of Blackbeards skull cap??... No! He had never heard anything about it, but he did know a fellow in Kennybunkport, ME, who was a big nautical antiques collector. If anyone knew about the skull, it would be him. He gave me the phone number and wished me good luck in my quest.
It was now Sept. 9, and I had still received no reply from Judge Whedbee, so I decided to locate Dr. Robert E. Lee, the author of the fine book on Blackbeards life.
I got his phone number easily from Winston-Salem, NC, information. My call was answered by Mrs. Lee who sounded quite frail & well on in years. She told me that Dr. Lee was not well but that he would talk to me on the phone. When he got on the phone, I explained who I was, what I was doing, and how much I enjoyed his book. He told me that he hadnt done any research into Blackbeard since he wrote the book and that he was now 84 and in failing health. I asked him a few questions about the skull, but as he was unable to add anything new, I thanked him for his time and ended the call. My next call was to Maine, where I spoke to Mr. John Rinaldi. I conveyed Mr.Flaydermans greetings to him and explained to him about my search. He denied having any knowledge of the subject, but recommended an old fellow in Boston who might be helpful, a Mr. Sam Lowe, who turned out to be a gruff, persnickety old coot just like Mr. Rinaldi said he would be. With a little bit of charm and some subtle flattery, I was able to make him receptive to my questions. Unfortunately, he had nothing to add to the information I already possessed. I was at a dead end once again.
On Sept. 18, I heard from Mr. Ben V. Cherry of Portsmouth, Virginia. He is famous for his portrayal both here and around the Caribbean, as Blackbeard himself. He has done quite a bit of research over the years and has a wealth of knowledge about this "gentleman" he portrays.
When I asked him about the skull, he mentioned some of the same stories that I had uncovered, adding a new one, that it may be in the collection of the University of Virginia. His own opinion about the skull was that it was probably lost, having been shot at and weathered away and broken up shortly after it was stuck up on the pole.
I also called Mr. Carson Hudson, another Blackbeard researcher. He relayed much of the same information, only he thought the skull had at one time been the property of William & Mary College, instead of the University of Virginia.
On Oct. 4, I again called Colonial Williamsburg, and I spoke to Ms. Patricia Gibbs from the Research Dept. She remembered my previous call, but had no new information for me and in fact told me that she had been unable to locate anything that suggested that Blackbeards skull had even been in use in the Raleigh Tavern.
I called the College of William & Mary, and spoke to Margaret Cook, the curator for the college. No luck. I called the University of Virginia. Again, no luck.
I was feeling very frustrated at this time, so I decided to try Judge Whedbee again. When I called his office, I was surprised to hear that his office phone had been disconnected. This sent a little shiver of fear up my spine, for this did not bode well for my research. Without too much trouble, I was able to locate Judge Whedbees home phone number. When I called, it was answered by a tired sounding elderly female voice. She asked what I wanted, and I explained about my quest, and how I really needed to talk to Judge Whedbee about the skull. I felt the color drain out of my face when she told me that the Judge had died two weeks ago. This man was the only person I knew of who supposedly had actually held and drank from Blackbeards Skull. Now he was gone, and I never had a chance to talk to him.
After telling me he was dead, the lady just hung up on me. Her rudeness surprised me, and shocked me almost as much as the news she had given me. I felt very depressed and frustrated as I had hoped this man could at least tell me whether the story of Blackbeards skull was true or just a story made up to amuse his readers.
On Friday, Oct. 5, I began again. I decided to try Americas Attic, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. I figured that sooner or later, everything of historical interest in the United States ends up there. So, just maybe ... Mr. Paul Johnston, the curator of the Nautical Section was away where I called. I spoke instead to one of his assistants. I told him my tale and again I wa told, the cup was not in the Smithsonians collection. He thought that if it was anywhere, it was in England. Well, Im not going to England just yet.
Oct. 8, 1990. No luck at either the U.S. Naval Academy Museum or the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Museum.
A footnote in Dr. Lees book states that there is a skull alleged to be Blackbeards in the hands of a New England collector of pirate memorabilia. I will now turn my attention back to New England.
On Oct. 22, I called Guthman Americana. Once again, no luck, although they did have Capt. Jack Rackhams wallet.
On Oct. 25, after being completely disheartened by the death of Charles Whedbee, I decided to try the publisher of his books to see if they had any information that I might be able to use for fresh leads.
I placed a call to John F. Blair, Publishers, in Winston-Salem, N. Carolina, where I was put in touch with a delightful woman named Caroline Sakowski who told me that "yes, indeed, Judge Whedbee had been very emphatic about the cup being real and had a number of leads that he was working on at the time of the death". When he died, she said she thought that he felt the cup was in the possession of one of the fraternities of the Univ. of Virginia or William & Mary College.
She also told me about a book called "Dig for Pirate Treasure", by Robert I. Nesmith, that had a chapter and a photograph of a man holding what is supposed to be Blackbeards skull in SILVER!!! She sent me a copy of the article and photo. The picture did indeed show a man holding silver skull. This mans name is Edward Rowe Snow from Cape Cod. He is, I believe, the collector of pirate memorabilia mentioned in Robert E. Lees book. So that ends one mystery.
Unfortunately, Mr. Snow has been dead some ten or more years. He was a popular radio personality and lecturer, and evidently quite a character.
According to Caroline Sakowski, this picture of Mr. Snow with the skull, was shown to Judge Whedbee, who stated at the time that it was indeed the same skull he was familiar with.
This raises several problems. The first is that the skull doesnt match the description given in Judge Whedbees book, nor is there any mention of the inscription "Deth to Spotswoode" on the cup skull. The cup mentioned in the book is only the very top part of the skull forming a bowl-like shape. Not a complete skull.
On Oct. 31, on a long shot, I decided to try and see if Mrs. Snow was still alive up. I contacted the local library and they were only too happy to give me her number.
My call was answered by an elderly-sounding lady who seemed most disquieted by my call and my interest in the skull. She said that she had been robbed in the past and didnt feel safe giving out any information about the skull. She mentioned that she, along with a Mr. Schroeder, were in the process of donating the skull to a museum in Salem, Mass. I placed calls to both the Essex Institute and the Peabody Museum, and no one at either location was aware of any such donation in the works.
August, 6, 1991. I travelled to Ocracoke on the ferry from Cedar Island, NC. It was indeed, thrilling to be sailing on the same waters that had once been sailed by Edward Teach. I had not realized what a large expanse of water Pamlico Sound is. We were out of sight of land a full half hour before Ocracoke appeared in the distance.
The village of Ocracoke is very tiny and centered around the beautiful harbor created by Silver Lake. Aside from the small village and the lighthouse, there is really not much on Ocracoke, and the outlying areas remain as desolate and wild as they must have been in Blackbeards time.
In spite of the fact that Blackbeard was probably Ocracokes most famous resident, in August 1991, there was very little evidence of him. Teachs Hole, where he used to anchor, is a well known fishing spot. There is one historical marker near the visitors center and a small restaurant called "The Jolly Roger". Other than this, there was little reference to Pirates.
August 7, 1991. I left Ocracoke before dawn to go to Bath, N.C. Blackbeards home. Traveling the empty island road at night, it was easy to see how ghost stories about the man flourished. I was the only one about at that hour, and the only other living things I saw were the abundant ghost crabs scuttling across the road like large pale spiders.
I caught the ferry at the northern end of the island just as dawn was breaking. Watching the colors of the day change over Pamlico Sound and seeing the early morning fishing boats headed out to sea was a beautiful sight that almost made up for the fact that I had learned nothing new about Blackbeard.
I drove up through all the little towns of the Outer Banks I had read about in Charles Whedbees books: Hatteras, Nags Head, Rodanthe. they were still quiet at that hour, with only fishermen and early risers up with hardly any traffic on the roads. I made good time.
I reached Bath about noon and in a pouring rainstorm. I stopped at the Visitors Center where I saw a short film about the towns history. There were a few early restored homes (none from Blackbeards time) which contained some artifacts from the town.
The only item they had pertaining to Blackbeard was a medium-size stoneware pot that was alleged to have belonged to him.
I inquired about his home and was told it was out on Teachs Point & only accessible by boat. With nothing more to learn there, I returned home.
This is where things stood until March 28, 1996, when I came across the April '96 issue of "Soundings" with its section on Pirates. I discovered there was now a Pirate Museum in Salem, Mass. (possibly the one mentioned by Mrs. Snow), as well as this marvelous publication "No Quarter Given".
My search continues and I will continue the offer of Judge Whedbee. If anyone can provide me with the silver cup made from the skull of Blackbeard for the purpose of x-ray and analysis, I will pay $1,000! Anyone with information can reach me through No Quarter Given." [actually you can now email the author at: Jwbigkahuna48@aol.com ]
April 12, 1996 AD
"Blackbeard the Pirate, A Reappraisal of His Life and Times" by Professor Robert E. Lee, pub: John F. Blair, 1974
"Dig for Pirate Treasure" by Robert I. Nesmith, pub.: Devin-Adair Co., NY, 1958
"Blackbeards Skull and Other Stories of the Outer Banks" by Judge Charles H. Whedbee, pub: John F. Blair
Snow, E. R., Pirates and Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast, Boston, 1944.
Pendered, Norman C., Blackbeard: the Fiercest Pirate of All, pub: Times
Printing Co., 1975
ADDENDUM: Since this article was written by Mr. Walker, it has been learned there is a skull purported to be Blackbeard's skull at the Peabody-Essex museum in Salem, MA. However, it does not match the description here, of a skull cap made into a drinking vessel, with a message etched around the edge. We (Jamaica Rose & Michael MacLeod) saw this skull in the summer of '98, and it is a complete skull (minus jaw bone), with nothing etched on it. It was a dark grey color - so it may have been silver-plated at one point.
FURTHER ADDENDUM: Here's an update from Mr. Walker:
"I'm sorry to say the trail of Blackbeard's skull has again grown cold. I tried back tracking the Edward Snow skull (the one currently on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum). I even had a forensic team ready to do a reconstruction of the face. But it turned out "Dear ol' Ed", in good pirate fashion purloined the skull from a local biology class and painted it silver with Radiator Paint! I will keep at it though, and if anything develops, you will be the first to hear about it."
The Pirates of California
by Rose Barton
The year was 1818. Argentina had begun its struggle for independence from Imperialist Spain. Their cause drew sympathy from many American and French citizens, who had recently gone through their own revolutions. In fact, a Frenchman, Hippolyte de Bouchard, was an admiral in the Argentine navy.
Now, you may well be wondering what all this has to do with a pirate invasion in California? At this time of history, California was still a part of the Spanish Empire. Reports of the wealth and prosperity of the California had reached even to Bouchard. He decided these rich missions and ranchos were a worthwhile target to help finance Argentinas revolution.
Bouchard sailed out of Buenos Aires, and headed his small fleet of two ships to the Sandwich Islands, with the goal of stirring up trouble in California. The flagship was the Argentina (also mentioned as the Frigata Negra), carrying 38 heavy guns and two light howitzers, captained by Bouchard. The Santa Rosa (also referred to as the Frigata Chica), an American ship, was carrying 26 guns. Lt. Peter Corney, an American, was her captain. This expedition of privateers was perhaps financed in part by Americans sympathetic with the colonial rebellions against Spain.
While anchored at the Sandwich Islands (as they used to call the Hawaiian Islands) Bouchards ships were being outfitted for the raid on the Californian coast. They signed on several Kanakas (native Sandwich Islanders) as additional crew. When the ships left the Sandwich Islands, their crew numbered approximately 300, and consisted of many nationalities.
Another ship, the Clarion, an American, left for California while Bouchard was still making his preparations. Sailing into Santa Barbara, the Clarion brought the warning that two insurgent ships were preparing to attack. Commandant José De la Guerra of the Santa Barbara presidio relayed this warning to Monterey. Governor Pablo Solà ordered the missions to remove and hide away all valuables. Women and children were to flee inland, and take with them all livestock, except horses needed for the defense. Spikes were prepared in case Spanish guns had to be spiked and abandoned. Defense troops at the presidios were reinforced with all available able-bodied men. Neophyte Indian archers from the inland missions arrived at the coastal presidios. Messengers were stationed, ready to carry urgent news. And then everyone waited. And nothing happened. After a few days, their guard relaxed. They began to think perhaps the pirates went home to Argentina. Reinforcements left the presidios and went home.
Then on the afternoon of Nov. 20, 1818, two ships were spotted off the coast of Monterey, flying the flag of Argentina. Accounts are contradictory, but it seems that after an initial exchange of gunfire, Bouchard formally demanded the surrender of California. Gov. Solà did not comply, so Bouchard ordered ashore a large force of men, led by the Kanakas armed with pikes. Sola, with a force of 80, briefly resisted, then retreated to Salinas to await reinforcements from San Jose and San Francisco.
Bouchard held the city of Monterey for about one week. During this time, the city was stripped of munitions, clothing and anything else of value, and most of the buildings were burned. Lt. Peter Corney made this entry in his log:
"It was well stocked with provisions and goods of every description, which we commenced sending on board the Argentina. The Sandwich Islanders, who were quite naked when they landed, were soon dressed in the Spanish fashion; and all the sailors were employed in searching houses for money and breaking and ruining everything."
When Solàs reinforcements arrived, he returned to Monterey with a force of 200 men, not including a large additional force of Indians. They found the town in ruins, some of the buildings still smoldering, all but two of the onshore guns had been knocked out, and the "pirates" were gone.
About 25 miles west of Santa Barbara is Refugio Bay. In 1818, it was famous for its use by smugglers, and for the rich Ortega Rancho located there. Ample water was available there. When word initially reached Santa Barbara about the possible invasion, Commandante De la Guerra sent a rider to warn the Ortega families. Then a few days later, the Ortegas received word from up north about the sack of Monterey. Panic broke out. The women and children were sent inland to the La Purisima and Santa Ines missions. All the valuables were loaded onto ox carts and pack mules and sent inland.
The same word about Monterey reached Santa Barbara, caused similar panic, and similar precautions were taken. Fifty men from the little pueblo of Los Angeles, and several Indian archers from the La Purisima mission were sent as reinforcements. Again, days went by and the guard was relaxed. The reinforcements went home.
Then two black ships were spotted by a lookout on Mount Tranquillon near Point Conception. The news was sent to Lompoc, Refugio, and Santa Barbara. Sergeant Anthony Carillo and thirty horsemen were dispatched to Refugio Bay that night, where they lay in wait in the bush.
In the morning, they found two ships flying the Argentine flag anchored off Refugio Bay. Heavy cannons were poking through the rows of gun ports. Several armed "pirates" were sent ashore in small boats. The rancho was deserted. Bouchard and his men were frustrated at finding nothing of value.
Three of his men strayed away from the others, attracted by grapes in a vineyard. They were easy prey for Carillo and his men. They burst out of the bushes, whirling their reatas and lassoed the three men as if they were cattle. The Californians spurred their horses, and dragged their captives at ropes end away and over the top of the hill. When a rescue party came after them, Carillos men were ready, firing fiercely from out of the brush. Bouchard ordered his men back.
Then, in their anger, Bouchards men wrecked and burned everything in sight. The gardens and young orchards were laid to waste, the livestock was slaughtered and the buildings were burned. A herd of fine palominos were found with all their throats cut. Bouchard thought the destruction would force the Californians to release his men. He did not realize that they were well on their way to Santa Barbara. Finally, Bouchard ordered his men back to the ships. He decided to sail to one of the Channel Islands to take on wood and water.
NEXT ISSUE: Part Two -- The Sack of San Juan Capistrano
Buccaneer Cuisine of the Carribean
by "Jamaica" Rose
The buccaneers of the
16th through 18th centuries ranged widely through the Caribbean
and Spanish Main. Food was usually a "catch as catch
can" affair, with periods of feast or famine - often the
latter. Now not always enjoying a healthy diet by our current
standards, the typical buccaneer ate much better than the salt
pork and moldy biscuit diet (laced with worms and maggots - hey,
protein!) that was available aboard naval and merchant ships.
Buccaneers often put in at secluded anchorages for water or
provisions, or for longer stays, to careen or repair their ships.
Other than supplies raided from settlements or subdued ships, the
buccaneers had to find their food on the hoof, so to speak. But
as luck had it, the islands abounded in food.
Native fruits and vegetables grew in profusion. There were yams, bananas (plantains), pineapples, papayas, guavas, dates and other fruit. Those huge, green bananas, plantains, were found to be useful on shipboard. They did not ripen and spoil, but remained hard. Yet, when thrown into the hot ashes, they would be baked into an appetising and nutritious starchy treat.
Buccaneers often hunted the cattle and wild boar that flourished on the islands as they ran wild. From the local Arawak Indians, they had learned how to smoke the meat over a boucan. This was a cooking rack made from straight twigs, cross-layered to a height of six inches. The name of this cooking rack is thought to be the origin of the French name "boucanier", which when Anglicized became buccaneer.
Imagine a couple of buccaneers capturing a young porker, and cooking it luau-style, by building a deep fire pit to roast him. Seasoned with some purloined spices and herbs, and wrapped with the abundant large banana leaves, the little piglet emerged savory, tender, and most probably safe to eat (if the fire had been kept hot enough).
The ever popular banana leaves were also used to cook fish. The sea yielded up an immense variety of food. Many shellfish were to be found close to shore, and they found their way into much of the cooking. With some local greens added, and the juice of some lemons or limes, some quite tasty dishes could be prepared.
Buccaneers would often go well out of their way to visit an island they knew had sea turtles. Up-side-down, turtles could be kept alive aboard ship for long periods of time, thus providing a source of fresh meat. This delicacy was so popular, some turtle species were almost driven into extinction.
The resourceful seamen were quick to put the cornucopia of the Caribbean to their use. Much of todays Caribbean cuisine derived from buccaneer experimentation and inventiveness. Local tubers with wild garlic and onion mixed with a potpourri of fish and spices was certainly the forerunner of gumbo. And their favorite concoction (when there were enough ingredients to hand) was a type of stew called "salmagundi".
Salmagundi consisted ofmarinated meat (often turtle, fish, pork, chicken or beef), mixed with any type of vegetables (cabbage and onions were common), eggs, anchovies, pickled herring, grapes, limes, wine or ale, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, & spices (whatever was on hand). The meats would be roasted, chopped into chunks, and marinated in the spiced wine or ale. The meat was then combined with whatever other ingredients they had, and all was highly seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and mustard seed, and doused with oil and vinegar. Also called "grand salad", its name probably derived from a corruption of the medieval French word "salemine", meaning "salted or highly seasoned".
The assorted backgrounds of the buccaneers, and a knack for making something different out of simple things lent adventure to the meals. As you try some Buccaneer Cuisine of your own, experiment and be creative. Remember, you have the pick of the land, sea, shore and the ships holds (and other ships holds, if yer lucky). You can turn every meal into a feast fit for the Spanish Governor.
"Heel her over boys, and we'll scrape 'er down again"
Careening Yer Vessel Buccaneer-Style
by Michael MacLeod
Careening was a chore dreaded by mariners (and especially buccaneers), but it was absolutely essential to the well-being of any wooden ship. It was the laying of a ship on it's side for repairs and cleaning. The typical buccaneer had no great affection for his ship, but his success and survival was very dependant on a fast vessel.
Careening (from the Latin word carina, meaning a "ship's keel") was necessary due to two main reasons (other than usual wear and tear); the teredo or shipworm, and bottom-fouling. The ships were vulnerable to the teredo, a voracious worm-like mollusk, which bored into exposed wood below the waterline. Even the stoutest oak could be turned into a spongy mass in a matter of weeks. Because they attacked the outside of the hull this dangerous weakening could go undetected, until a section of the hull failed disastrously.
Another problem to be contended with was the accumulation of barnacles, sea grass, algae, seaweed, muck, etc. on the ships bottom. These bottom fouling marine growths could greatly reduce a vessels speed; and speed could mean the difference between life and death to a pirate. This was important both in capturing prizes (No Prey, No Pay!), and in escaping from enemy man-o'-war.
When it came time to careen the vessel (which was needed three to four times per year in the warm tropics), they would first find some secluded anchorage where they would be safe from enemy attack, as they were quite helpless while their vessel was laying on it's side. Pirates preferred small, fast, shallow draft vessels such as sloops, pinnaces (lugger-rigged sloops), and small schooners. Their small size made it much easier to hide them when careening- time came, as they could go into shallow coves and other areas, where larger vessels didn't dare venture. Additionally, the small ships were easier to turn on their sides, being lighter in weight.
They would then lighten ship, removing all the cannon, ballast, cargo, etc. The crew would set up an encampment on the shore and a small fortification would be built to house the cannon in case of attack. The vessel would then be run in close to shore during high tide. As the tide went out the ship would run aground and settle on one side. This only worked in areas that had strong tides and a sandy or muddy bottom (letting your vessel run aground on rocks was not a good idea!). Otherwise the vessel was anchored close to shore. The gun ports and other openings would be battened down to keep the ship from flooding. Ropes were attached to the ships masts and run either to trees on the shoreline or attached to the deck of a nearby anchored vessel. The ship was then pulled over on her side using careening pullies. To prevent a ship from overturning when careening, and to help bring her back upright after a careening, they used two strong tackles called relieving tackles. They would pass cables under the ship's bottom to the opposite side where they were anchored to the lower gun ports. A raft would then be constructed alongside for the caulkers to work from. Torches would be lit and used to soften the old pitch and help burn off the barnacles, seaweed, muck, etc. which had accumulated on the bottom. This was called breaming, and was made easier because the bottom coatings were highly flammable. The bottom planking would then be thoroughly scrapped.
Afterwards, the seams between the planks would be stopped up by hammering oakum (a mixture of ground-up hemp rope and tar) into them, then filling them with hot melted pitch, which kept the seawater from rotting the oakum. The hulls were often coated with a mixture of pitch, tallow, and sulphur. This was to help the hull slip easier through the water, as well as helping to poison and destroy the marine worms which attacked the hull. As an added protection, sometimes a sheathing of thin planks was sometimes nailed over the coated hull then tarred over. This was often done on English and French vessels. Finally, the hulls were painted, usually black with a yellow or white stripe across the gun ports and yellow or orange below the water line.
Another method of protecting the hull was covering the bottom with large-headed scupper nails, which quickly oxidized in sea water forming a kind of protective shell. Copper sheathing was introduced after 1760 but was used only on larger vessels because of it's high cost.
After one side of the vessel was finished the ship would be heeled over and the process repeated. When finished, they would loose the careening pullies to right the ship, any accumulated water pumped out, all ballast and cannon reloaded, and her rigging put ship- shape. She was then ready for sea again.
Sometimes, when there wasn't time or a good location to do a proper careening, they would use a method called "boot-topping". While anchored in still water, they would heave all the cannon, cargo, and everything else not nailed down, to one side of the vessel. This would cause the ship to lean over, exposing part of the hull below the waterline. They would then scrape the exposed areas of the hull, and re-tar them. The scraping was done using a special scrubbing-broom called a "hog". A ship's boat would be tied up next to the hull, then the hog would be thrust under the bottom using it's long handle. Two ropes attached to each end of the brush would be used, along with the handle, to guide it along scrubbing the side of the vessel. Everything was then shifted to the other side, the ship leaned the other way, and they again scraped and retarred. This was not very satisfactory, as they were only able to clean part of the hull below the waterline. Boot- topping was done only as a stopgap measure.
Wooden ships have always required a great deal of maintenance to keep them ship shape. Buccaneers who neglected their ship might find themselves visiting Davey Jones, much sooner than they expected.
--Bathe, B.W., G.B. Rubin de Cervin, & E. Taillemite, The Great Age of Sail, pub. by Crescent Books, New York, 1967.
--Falconer, William, Falconer's Marine Dictionary (1780), reprinted by Augustus M. Kelley, Publishers, New York, 1970.
--Pringle, Patrick, Jolly Roger: The Story of the Great Age of Piracy, London and New York, 1953.
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