Captain Horatio Sinbad cleaned his small brass signal gun to fire on the next North Carolina ferry to dock today in Ocracoke’s Silver Lake.
“They love it,” he said about the ferry-goers while on his brigantine boat, the Meka II, which was docked at the NPS docks. “The dredge Merritt threatened to shoot back.”
It’s all part of the First Annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree, a weekend event on Ocracoke that begins today and continues through noon Sunday with a memorial service at Springer’s Point. A schedule of events with locations and times can be found online at www.piratejamboree.com.
Pirates began setting up their authentic encampments Thursday on the grounds of the historic Wahab House, 161 Irvin Garrish Highway. Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew and members of the Devilmen of Cape Feare are camped on both sides of the road, while Sinbad and his first mate, Lt. Brown, stay on their boat—something they’ve done for 46 years.
A woodworker by trade, Sinbad built his 54-foot boat himself and launched his life as a pirate in 1967. Like some of his compatriots, Sinbad became enamored of the pirate’s life as a young boy.
“Ever since I saw ‘Treasure Island’ with Robert Newton as Long John Silver,” he said about his avocation. He even had an orange-winged Amazon parrot named Black Bart who sailed with him and Brown for 35 years. They recently laid the bird to rest with a burial at sea.
Blackbeard’s Pirate Crew of Hampton, Va., was almost all set up midday at the Wahab yard and visitors began arriving.
Adam Cyphers, one of the crew, was mending sails alongside his canvas hammock set up in the yard.
“That (hammock) is part of why I do this,” he said. “I get to sleep outside.”
He and Philip Gilson, a glassblower who creates period glassware from the 1730s to the present, talked with other pirates and visitors inside Gilson’s tent of authentic wares.
“I’m the last colonial American glassblower in the United States,” Gilson said, noting that he is not a pirate. He explained the history behind several of his dozens of pieces for sale, along with authentic clothing and other items made from leather, iron, ivory and wood.
Gilson makes his living selling his wares at various historical re-enactment events around the country and said he is the glassblower to the Statue of Liberty and 16 other historic sites.
The re-enactors are quick to dispel some popular myths.
“Pirates didn’t say ‘Arrgh,’” Gilson said. “That’s from the movies.”
Cyphers explained the origin of “Arggh,” which is from folks from Northern Devon in England.
“It was a sound they made clearing their throat,” he said, “and it was similar to the way Canadians say, ‘Aaay.’”
Captain Devil, aka Bill Hall, of the Devilmen of Cape Feare, further elaborated on what pirates said.
“They did say, ‘Rum!’” he noted with a laugh.
Captain Devil also corrected a reporter’s question.
“I’m not a pirate,” he said. “I’m an honest seaman.”
Author and historian Kevin Duffus will dispel more myths about Blackbeard tonight at 7 p.m. in the Ocracoke Community Center during a meet-and-greet with the pirates and the “Trial of Blackbeard.”
Beer, hors d’oeuvres and period music by the Motley Tones will be part of this kick-off event. Admission is $5.
The weather looks favorable for the weekend, which is something the organizers are thankful for after having had to cancel this event the last two years because of hurricanes.
“The skies are blue, the air is crisp, the pirates have arrived,” noted Daphne Bennink, who spearheaded the event three years in the making. “Let the rumpus begin!”
The festival formally kicks off tonight. Saturday’s events are from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. throughout the village, featuring Blackbeard’s Battle at Ocracoke at 3 p.m. with three historic ships, The Florie, the Meka II and the Ada Mae, re-enacting the battle in which Lt. Robert Maynard slew the pirate Blackbeard.
The NC DOT Ferry Division will add extra ferry runs Saturday as needed.
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