Pirates are bad guys!

As you’re reading this, I have a library late fee accruing. This problem is chronic. I made a promise to myself a few months back that I would change my ways after I paid off my most expensive offense of $8.01. It has gotten better-I believe I went one or two months with little or no fee. As I checked out a number of books this last visit three weeks ago, I specifically remember holding the receipt in my hand, looking at it and telling myself, “You don’t need this to remind you, you can do it on your own.” Better yet, the library even sends me a notice via email when I have books due – it comes with 24 hour notice and a list of said books. There really is no excuse here. None. Maybe I’ll try to muster one up. Turns out, my self was wrong. Oh! I did return the books the very next day! But, managed to leave one out. By accident of course, it was hidden under the toy chest! AND…my excuse is that it happens to be one of our favorite borrows as it has to do with pirates. It’s an actual National Geographic Kids book which happens to coincide with the current “Real Pirates” exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It’s the untold story of The Whydah. The ship that went from slave ship to pirate ship.

I didn’t take Logan to the exhibit because I’m not sure if he and I are ready to talk about slave trade and the actual bad guys that pirates were. They weren’t just the hobnobbing absent-minded-seeming lugs with fancy duds and lots of jewelry that Disney portrays them to be:

Or, in Logan’s Lego rendition of the hook-handed trouble-makers:

According to the book, Pirate Captain Sam Bellamy and his crew stole The Whydah, adapted it from a slave ship transporting captives from Africa to the Caribbean, to a ship that performed high-seas robbery and vessel plundering. Not cool. See photo:

We like this book, however, because we can pick and choose what we read, learning more about the pirate crew, their treasure and the sinking of the ship. It is quite fascinating, really. Here are five things we learned about The Whydah while we have been dragging our feet in returning it’s book to the library:

1. It sunk off the coast of Cape Cod. This is note worthy because, growing up in Connecticut, I spent many a summer visiting the shores of this coastal lovely land. I was able to share this with Logan by going to Google Earth and showing him where Cape Cod is in relation to where I grew up and that it is the city shaped like a flexing arm.

2. Pirate Captain Sam Bellamy was known as Black Sam and was actually sailing The Whydah back to Cape Cod in the spring of 1717 to reunite with his lady love and live happily ever after on his stolen ship and treasure. I will use the word, “treasure,” because, as I’ve said before, Logan finds discomfort with the real term, “booty.”

3. Black Sam had a crew of 200 men-most British, but also French, Dutch, Spanish, American, Native American and African. The youngest crewmen being 11. He was little John King, who had originally been captured with his mom by Black Sam, but decided he would much rather join Sam and his pirate crew. Reminds me of the old adage,  “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

4. The shores around Cape Cod are known as “the Graveyard of the Atlantic,” because of how dangerous they are. This was where The Whydah sank during a storm on the night of April 26, 1717. It wasn’t even a pirate ship for a whole year! Sam Bellamy was just 27 when he took the ship and was only able to captain the vessel for something like eight months before it’s demise. Poor guy-hardly a noteworthy pirating career and he didn’t even get to reunite with his love! Rumor has it her ghost frequents the shores off the area in which Sam sank, bemoaning his loss. I didn’t read that part to Logan. Whoa! I think we are way past five fun facts! These have been freebies.

5. After years of searching, Barry Clifford discovers the sunken pirate ship in July of 1984, booty and all!

6. And an extra for good measure: The name is pronounced widah-like, short “I” sound. So, when you go out later today or tomorrow and you are ready to share your newfound knowledge of this pirate ship, you will be pronouncing it correctly.

Everyone loves a good pirate story, right? And, you can’t tell for sure in the picture of Black Sam, but I’m willing to bet there’s a hook hidden under there!

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