Dinner is Now Being Served in the Galley

With Easter and spring upon us, it’s only natural to think of all those eggs, hams, and spring lambs adorning the tables of millions around the world. But did you ever think about what pirates and other mariners feasted on for their daily fare? Surely, if they beseeched God to “… give us this day our daily bread…” it’s no wonder they became a hard, atheistic lot when they showed up for dinner with far less to eat than their counterpart landlubbers.

It’s hard to make a sweeping generalization that captures all mariners at sea. William Dampier, the buccaneer, explorer, and navigator, once dined on flamingoes. For the PETA folks, it’s not something I would approve of, so no nasty emails please. I wouldn’t approve of dining on turtles either, which pirates and mariners did when they could, but when you haven’t eaten a very substantial meal in weeks, it’s not hard for your stomach to persuade your brain to change its mind no matter how much you love God‘s creatures.

The fact is, dining at the beginning of a journey out on the high seas was tolerable. Food and water were fresh. Fowl or livestock brought aboard provided wholesome meat and eggs; and when rations grew short, they could become tomorrow’s dinner. A few weeks into the trip was a different story. With no refrigeration, meat soon became rotten, filled with maggots and worms. A good cook disguised the putrid taste with a variety of seasonings.

Of course, there was the old standby of salted meat, so hard and tasteless that some sailors actually carved their allotment into buttons. Then there was the hardtack. Before you go thinking it was some kind of delicious candy kept in tins, you’ll be disappointed to know it was nothing more than hard biscuits made from flour and water. The only true nourishment was from the weevils that burrowed inside.

When supplies ran really low, a competent cook got creative with a little dish that survives today. Salmagundi. The word comes from the French salmigondis which means a hodgepodge of something. With what started as  scraps, the cook threw in anything available, adding a few pounds of seasoning to mask the even more putrid ingredients that weren’t getting any tastier by the day.

I know what you’re thinking, but before you turn your nose up at salmagundi, look at all the dishes that evolved from cultures where there wasn’t a lot of money to spend on food. Hash, corned beef and cabbage, shit-on-the- shingle. Even on cruise ships they serve a dish called Seafood medley. What do you think goes into THAT? What the folks didn’t eat the day before! Continue reading

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Captain Billy Jacks Parrot Revolutionizes Cruise Ship Industry

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            Most of you may remember a few short weeks ago, I hosted Captain Billy Jacks Parrot, giving him the opportunity to tell you about The Bare Bones, a cruise ship he was refurbishing for those looking for a real pirate adventure.

Well, Captain Billy just returned to port late this afternoon with an update on epic changes he’s making to the whole cruising concept. You may remember the fantastic changes he’s already made to the dress code, the Sign and Steal Card, and the Liquor package.

Captain Billy tells me that on a trip to the Western Caribbean this past week, he’s made a number of other revolutionary changes, but like a pirate he was adamant about telling you first hand. So I’m turning this post over to him. Am I crazy or what? I hope he’s learned the fine line between bawdy and proper by now, but with all the wenches on board The Bare Bones, I doubt proper decorum  was foremost on his mind.

 

“Avast! Mates! I see ye be back visitin’ with me old friend, The Uncommon Mariner.  He be kind enough to let me speak with ye about a subject near and dear to me heart! And we ain’t talkin’ rum or wenches either. I be’s talkin’ about The Bare Bones. A Pirate cruise ship fer anyone lookin’ fer a rollickin’ good time. If ye got a pirate heart, me cruise ship’s the one ye want to book passage on, mate.

            One of the big changes we made this last time out was in gambling. If it’s one thing a pirate likes more than rum or a pretty wench, it’s gambling. Wanna stop a sword fight that’s going hot and heavy? Just throw a pair of dice out on deck.

            First off, we kept the slot machines, table games, and roulette. And we give ye a thousand doubloons and a hundred pieces of eight to bank roll ye. Moreover, to give ye a fair shot at winning, half our dealers are wearing two eye patches. And we don’t confine gambling to a stuffy casino either. Ye can gamble outside on any of our decks. And there’s plenty of places to sit. That’s why we call them deck chairs.

            Speaking of entertainment, this might be a good time to let ye know we’ve done away with some forms of amusement ye find on other cruise ships.  There’s no phony art auctions. Ye know what I be talkin’ about. Ye bid or buy what they call an authentic print or painting, only to find it’s a copy of a copy of an exclusive print or painting, meaning fifty million other landlubbers have had the same piece of ship hanging in their bathrooms at home fer years. Continue reading

Heroines of the Seas

Ann Bonny and Mary Read were a force to be reckoned with.
Anne Bonny and Mary Read were a force to be reckoned with.

We recently celebrated International Women’s Day. It’s been recognized since 1901 though most countries celebrate it on March 08. Since it’s a time to honor the achievements of women everywhere, I thought it might be a proper time to recognize some of women’s accomplishments in the realm of the sea.

In a recent post A Lifetime Commitment, I focused on the extraordinary sacrifices men and women of the armed forces made to keep us safe. In light of this special occasion, let’s look at some of the women who, for good or bad, impacted the world in which they lived.

Cheng I Sao, who lived between 1775 and 1844, rose from a life of prostitution to commander of twenty to forty thousand pirates when her husband Cheng I died. It was her wits and shrewd political maneuvering more than physical prowess that was her strength. And she was no one’s patsy. Part of the code she established was the beheading of anyone who gave their own orders or disobeyed those given.

Grace O’Malley, sometimes known as Grainne O’Malley or Granuaile was an Irish pirate of the 1500’s. As commander of three galleys and two hundred men, she was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was she fearless on the water, but when she met Queen Elizabeth face to face, she refused to bow or curtsey because she did not recognize her as the queen of Ireland.

Anne Bonny, on the other hand, was a died-in-the-wool Caribbean pirate, who sailed with Calico Jack Rackham. Rackham stole Ann from her husband and embarked on a wild ride of piracy as lovers.

Mary Read likewise served on Rackham‘s ship, shoulder to shoulder with Anne Bonny and the other pirates; Bonny was unaware Mary was a woman till Ann made a pass at her mistaking her for a man. Both fought as valiantly as any man on board. In fact, when Rackham and his crew cowered in a drunken state below deck during a brutal attack, the two women fought tooth and nail with the King’s troops before surrendering. Continue reading

Pirates Take Over Cruise Ship

 

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            You may find this hard to believe, but pirates have taken over a cruise ship. Legally. Yes, that’s right. It’s called The Bare Bones and the captain is a close friend of mine, Captain Billy Jacks Parrot. He asked me not to use his real name for fear the Enquirer would do a story on him and that would inevitably lead to an interview by the New York Times, and, being a pirate, he’s got a few skeletons in the closet. He’s got enough customs agents  down in the Caribbean wanting to ask him questions he’d rather not answer. Besides his ship is still in the testing phase of the concept and he doesn’t want to go full frontal just yet.

So I’m Captain Billy’s front man in a manner of speaking. I don’t know who’s covering his rear. Probably his girlfriend. Or is it the other way around?

At any rate, to simplify things, I’m just passing on the letter he sent me explaining how he’s plundering the cruise industry with pirate abandon. I haven’t changed a word except those parts that might be a bit embarrassing because Captain Billy being a sailor and all frequently forgets the line between proper and bawdy. Actually, I don’t think Captain Billy knows there is a line.

“Carnival touts itself as the Fun Cruise Ship, but pirates know a whole lot more about having fun on a ship than Carnival ever will. After all, look how long pirates have been doing it compared to these cruise lines.

            If ye ever sailed on a cruise ship, ye know their motto by heart.  “Suck as much booty out of the passengers as you can, and do it faster than ye can say Yo Ho Ho.” I seen first hand how it works, and Captain Billy Jacks Parrot and his lusty crew can do a whole lot better.

            First off, there’s the dress code. A lot of men and women bring their whole wardrobe on ship. Are you serious? Suits and gowns and tuxedos and high heels for dining in exclusive restaurants and Dress Up Night. Not on the Bare Bones. If ye show up at the Captain’s table wearing that, me and me crew will laugh ya out to the gang plank. Fer dress up night, yer cleanest dirty shirt and a new bandana is almost being overdressed. As fer dress code during the day, wear whatcha want. A bikini works fine but not too skimpy. If the Coast Guard finds out there’s a lot of crack on board, they’ll be boarding us constantly. Deep down there’s a pirate in every single one of them scalawags.

            Veteran travelers know all about those little credit cards cruise lines give ya. Some call them Sign and Sail. They work jest like a credit card and are used not so much for yer benefit as the cruise lines. The more ye swipe it, the more money they earn. Well, Captain Billy and his crew issue you a Sail and Steal card. Once on board, it’s your license to steal anything that’s not nailed down. Of course, we’ll probably steal it back from ye when yer not lookin’, but that’s the fun of being on a pirate ship. Continue reading