Saturday, March 5, 2011, Jolly Roger Tavern, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. I seem to have gained the trust of my crew and, for the moment at least, feel to be in their good graces––though power is a tenuous thing when one is out at sea leading a crew of miscreants and criminals who could turn on you at any time. I’ve seen it on other voyages: one hears “Yes, sir” and “right away, sir,” but behind that submissiveness is a cask of powder ready to explode in the face of the tormentor at any second, and on long journeys void of carnal pleasures, light in compensation, and lacking in desirable victuals, one focuses their rancor on the nearest man who could be misconstrued as the oppressor. It is, therefore, imperative that I choose my battles carefully in the days ahead, as we may or may not come face to face with the prey that will give us a momentary sense of survival on this often tumultuous sea . I had collected my crew the final weekend of February from the Island of Key West, the southernmost island in the territory of Florida. When I came upon them they were at the end of a week-long binge of drinking and playing music at a tavern oddly named the Hog’s Breath, on the famed lane of perdition, Duvall Street. I gave them a few hours to sleep off their stupor, and we set sail for the port of Miami, abandoning one Steven Allen, their previous fretmaster, at the docks of Fort Lauderdale. After a somewhat uneventful voyage we arrived in Charlotte Amalie on the Island of St Thomas in the Leeward Isles, where we given lodging by the honorable Paul Dirks and his wife Edythe for a day of respite. On Wednesday the second of March we finally ended a long dry spell with an raid on Latitude 18 where we had the fortune of meeting for the first time the Brethren Pirates of Red Hook, a jolly bunch lead by Rick Holmberg and his first mate Andy, and in their company the beautiful lass Robin, all of them dressed in their full pirate finery. There was much merriment and posing for portraits. We were also joined by the pianist Danny Silber, an immigrant originally from the city of Bronx on the island of New Amsterdam. We were greatly relieved to confirm that our vessel was sea-worthy. Portrait by Jeffrey Lange Portrait by Jeffrey Lange The next night we set sail for Jack’s restaurant in the Artist’s enclave of Tillet Gardens. Jack’s was named for the pirate Jack Rackam, so we felt we were safe in those environs. We were joined for the evening by the honorable Paul Dirks, and at one point were joined on stage by deep sea explorers Duane and Laura of the Admiralty Dive shop, there rehearsing for a production of a comic opera entitled Hair. The next morning we returned the skiff we had used to navigate St Thomas and we set sail for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Once we arrived we managed to sneak undetected through customs and went directly to the Jolly Roger, the inn that would be both our home and our performance space for the following two nights. The Jolly Roger is staffed by a wonderful group of West Indians, among the nicest we’ve come upon in the Caribbean. The establishment has recently changed ownership, and it is our hope that they retain all the qualities that have made it a safe haven and favored destination for us. We left the port of Soper’s bay in Tortola on the morning of March 6th. We had to slip through customs undetected, and in the rush of Sunday morning comings and goings, our presence went unnoticed, though a young couple from the village of Manhattan Beach in the territory of California complimented us profusely on our previous performances. We boarded the ferry for Charlotte Amelie, and the passage was brief, smooth, and picturesque. Once we arrived back at St Thomas it fell upon me to procure a vessel for the following week’s plundering. Knowing that much of our coming engagements would take place on land, we found a dry goods store in the village of Tutu (oddly named Kmart), and the entire crew procured footwear made by Chinese cobblers. photo Karen Mason After a brief respite at Dirks Manor we made off for our next raid, the Hull Bay Hideaway. Lorne Rall, by this time having established himself as the boatswain, hung our Jolly Roger as well as the colors of the Brethren Pirates of Red Hook. The honorable Paul Dirks assisted us once again both musically and in the rigging, and we performed on a deck before a dance floor of sand. We were fortunate to be visited by both natives and friends from far off including my elder sister Karen and brother in law Matt visiting from the prairie of the new world, the aforementioned thespian deep sea divers, and the lovely Miss Jennie Alverez of St. Thomas. The greatest treasure was being joined on the deck (just when were about to sail away) by the steel pan player Morgan Rael. Monday the 7th of March I went to collect my siblings from their lodging and the three of us chanced to enter Blackbeard’s Castle, a loving tribute to the Icon of piratical show business. As we entered the castle, I was curiously surprised to hear a familiar voice, my own, emanating from the walls, and we were greeted by the young pirate J.W. and the fair maiden Erica who welcomed us as friends and we exchanged valuable information. During a repast at an inn filled with Mexican treasure, I received a missive that Masters Griffith and Rall had taken a stroll and were being held hostage by a pack of wild hounds. My suggestion that they respond by shouting at the dogs in Spanish or French fell on deaf ears, the crew informing me that the curs were neither poodles nor chihuahuas. Luckily a mongoose appeared and distracted the hounds long enough for the crew to escape. I left my flesh and blood at the ferry and hurried my skiff to collect my crew for our final raid on the island of St Thomas at the ferociously named Tickles, a waterfront tavern on what is called the Crown Bay Marina. We were greeted by a staff surprisingly happy to see us, leaving us the thought that perhaps we weren’t conveying the appropriate savagery befitting of pirates. Perhaps we need to don more bloodthirsty garb. Amid the crowd was a Scotsman named Stanley who had heard our shanties played by the honorable Doug Dick, a master of wireless communications in the lesser Antilles. Stanley was pleased to have won a recording of our works from the honorable master Doug Dick, and had been celebrating his success profusely. The following morning we left the manor of the honorable Paul Dirks and his wife Edythe and set sail for the magical island of St John. After a rare moment of repose at Cinnamon Bay, we set off to one of our favorite haunts, the Beach Bar in Cruz Bay, run by our old running mates Cat Braaten and Allan MacPhee. I spent a good part of the late twentieth century as Cat’s fretmaster in a series of raids on strongholds of higher learning, and on first meeting the honorable Mr. MacPhee learned of his ten year streak of avoiding the wearing of stockings. That evening we celebrated Mardi Gras, a carnival made popular in the Louisiana Territory, and it appeared we were witnessing the inauguration of quite a few youths into the world of intoxicants. We ourselves had a wondrous time, but I fear some of the younger celebrants were suffering from sea-sickness, despite being on land. The evening was given a wondrous sense of magic by the appearance of our long missed family Sam Wich and Fuego of the Pyros of the Caribbean, who gave a dazzling display of flame-twirling and fire-eating. Yesterday, the ninth of March, after a rare moment of repose at the Bay of Cinnamon, we traveled to the mystical land of Coral Bay for a raid on Shipwreck Landing, the establishment owned by the honorable Dennis Rizzo, for a night of joy and camaraderie with friends and the fabulous crew of Mr. Rizzo.