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Real Pirates at the Nauticus: From Slave Ship to Pirate Ship
Friday, 13 November 2009 00:00

Contributed by Will Murphy


The Whydah, an 18th century pirate ship, made the news more recently when a 1984 dive team led by Barry Clifford found the wreck of the old vessel off Cape Cod. The Whydah, which was named for the African port Ouidah, was an English vessel that began its career trading in slaves and spices between Europe, Africa, and North America. In February, 1717 the ship was captured by the pirate captain "Black Sam" Bellamy, who used it as his flagship. The ship's tenure as a pirate vessel was to be short - on April 26, 1717, just a few months after its capture by pirates, the Whydah sank in a storm off Cape Cod, never to be seen again until Clifford successfully located the wreck.

Since the discovery of the shipwreck, Clifford and his team have brought up several artifacts, including canon, from the vessel. These artifacts are on display at the Expedition Whydah Museum in Pronvincetown, MA, and a selection of them periodically tours the country as a travel exhibit called "Real Pirates." Clifford, who is a private archeologist, sends this exhibit out in coordination with the National Geographic Society and Arts & Exhibitions international. His efforts have been called a "model for private archeology" - he sells none of the artifacts he and his team bring to the surface, but instead studies and preserves them for posterity. I think it's great that this ship, which was once used in the terrors of the slave trade and in piracy, is now used to teach maritime history.

pirate-logoReal Pirates sails to Nauticus, November 21, 2009 - April 4, 2010

One Waterside Drive
Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 664-1000

Tickets: $18.95/Adults, $14.95/Children (ages 4-12) - click here to purchase tickets

Sunday - Thursday - 10:00 AM -5:00 PM
Friday - Saturday - 10:00 AM -8:00 PM

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