|Anna Maria Island will never be quite the same in early November.
For 42 years the Privateers had successfully chased Jean LaFitte’s ghost ship in early November for it’s storied treasure unfettered by others. The secret had always been ours and ours alone. But 2013 will mark the year that everything changes forvever. This year, after our Grande Pirate Masquerade Ball the Crewe of Hernando De Soto was lying in wait along our historical path down the island. Their intelligence gathering had proven very effective as there was no doubt they knew our route. After our first encounter it became clear, they were there to ride along side us in the search, and to stop us if necessary to take the treasure themselves! It wasn’t really an ambush, it was more of a Skirmish as we had heard the rumors and the ineundo from even before the Ball the night before. A good Privateer is a prepared Privateer and in fact we were heavily armed even though grossly outnumbered.
Depending on who you talk to you will hear different accounts about the Skirmish, but our eye witness reports that upon the first encounter at Rudy’s Subs the Captain of the Crewe of De Soto, Gus Sokos, in a light drizzle, threw down the gauntlet to the Privateers. To the delight of both his crewe and the crowds that began to gather, he taunted and us with our own flag and ship’s plaquard. The Privateers answered with the first shot fired of the skirmish.
Then, they chased us on to the Crosspointe Church, where there was heavy gunfire exchanged and the Privateers captured the Princess, Megan Briggs, the De Soto Flag and one of those fantastic helmets. Butch Powell, the Hernando De Soto was seen leaning ominously, sword drawn, after it became clear we were pulling out of that port with part of his Royal Court.
After narrowly escaping the church and the wrath of the Herne we pulled into Manatee County Public Beach to re-group but as we approached we encountered heavy black powder fire. Our Captain, Larry Ackerman, knew the Skullywag needed looking after and began to wonder was this to be an encounter with another crew? The crowds, now as the rain began to fall heavier were not deterred. At this port our witness saw the Queen herself, Haley Louise Geraldson, jump on to our ship and pass items back to the Conquistadors. Clearly, not just a pretty face, this Queen is a force to reckoned with. The Queen successfully passed over both visiting pirate Nikko Lorenzi’s Tricorn and Privateer Stanton Clark’s Riffle. Our Viking was not amused. In the confusion the Crewe of De Soto also took our Mermaid Buttress from our ship’s bow. While we pulled out of port with their Royalty, another flag and helmet.
Drenched and exhausted we reached Bridgestreet with the Conquistadors hot on our tails. The news had spread quickly from the north end of the island as this was the site of the largest crowds. True to form both the Privateers and the Conquistadors delighted the crowds with swordplay and gunfire. It was at this port that their wiley Princess jumped ship and we traded their Queen for our flag. Both sides knew that neither had actually found Jean LaFitte’s ghost ship so far, but there was one last stop and one final hope….. Privateer Invasion Central, the festival grounds at Coquina Beach. Onward we both sailed.
Pulling into port we knew the treasure would have to wait another year, but there was still the small matter of the exchange of booty and the truce. Did the Conquistadors realize that if they had run the island and been unsuccesfull in finding the ghost ship that the legend says it has returned to Davy Jone’s locker only to reappear next year? Since this was the first year we had encountered them on our route we did not know for sure.
We knew this, they were very worthy opponents and their Royal Court had courage and cunning too. In they came to port, a sight to behold. Very quickly we realized they had studied the legend and knew very well that upon reaching this port the best thing to do was to make a truce, exchange the booty and proceed to eat, drink and make merry. This year, the final exchange and truce was made for our Mermaid Buttress and their flag.
Although for 42 years we had our secret we wouldn’t change a thing about the new line of history we are now going to write!