Pirate Fact… or Fiction?

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As you start to think about your pirate costume for the 4th Annual Pirate Party Fundraiser hosted by the Propeller Club of Jacksonville on Saturday, Oct. 11, you may be thinking about eyepatches, peg legs and parrots .. . and we encourage it! We’re planning a costume contest judged by party attendees, so the more entertaining and authentic your piratical garb – and attitude – the better!

In the meantime, here at the Propeller Club, we’re members of the modern maritime community, so we have a duty to lay down some serious pirate knowledge for the record. And the reality is, old timey pirates were in many ways different from their portrayals on TV, in books and in movies. One of the most influential books on pirate lore was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. His book has influenced pirate depictions in pop culture from the 1800s to the present, but we’re not so easily fooled. Here are a couple of pirate myths debunked:

Pirate myth #1: Pirates buried their treasure.
In truth, there was only one pirate known for burying treasure: William Kidd. He thought he could use the hidden loot as a bargaining chip if he were caught by the authorities. His forward thinking was to be commended, but, it didn’t quite work out. He was captured, charged with piracy and hanged.

Pirate myth #2: Pirates regularly made people walk the plank.
There were plenty of pirate punishments, but making someone walk the plank was relatively rare. It was just easier to dispatch someone with sword or gun, or simply by tossing them overboard. Some 20th Century historians even believed the practice was made up. However, the phrase “walking the plank” is indeed recorded in the book, “Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” published in 1788.

So there you go – what piratical things do you take for granted? Sound off in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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