Sunday, November 07, 2010

Trail of the Pirates

Trail of the Pirates is a travel series exploring maritime history, culture and lore between Key West and St. Augustine on the east coast of Florida.

Pirates of the Caribbean postcard
Illustration courtesy of ste3ve's Flickr.

On a recent trip to St. Augustine, I had the opportunity to visit a super secret warehouse where staff, artists and craftsmen were working on displays for the opening of Pat Croce's St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. This experience was special for me, because the museum used to be located in Key West and the last time I visited the island, Pirate Soul, as it was then called, had already closed.

"If you reveal the location of the warehouse," joked a staff member, "we'll have to kill you." But it was no joke that behind the scenes, surrounded by murals, canons, artifacts and paintings, I came up with this crazy idea to drive from Key West to St. Augustine, following the trail of the pirates.

About one month later and after much logistical planning involving hundreds of emails and phone calls, that's exactly what I'm going to do! Join me as I explore maritime culture and lore from Key West to St. Augustine, starting Monday November 8 and ending Tuesday, November 16. I'll be stopping at points in between -- Miami-Dade, Broward, Martin and Indian River counties -- and provided I have a decent internet connection, I should be able to post each day here on Sex and the Beach. No guarantees on what will happen if I get swept away by a sexy pirate!

Pirate lore and legend has fascinated many a curious artist before me, with many an interesting interpretative twist, including the genre of the romance novel. This one by Emily Bryan.

Honestly, I've never really been that much into pirates. I haven't even seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series with Johnny Depp. But I am passionate about Florida history and all things having to do with Florida's connection to the Caribbean. It's safe to say that most of Florida's history is underwater in the form of shipwrecks -- so many ships passed by Florida, their holds laden with precious cargo, on the way back to Europe. Florida was all about the booty hundreds of years before Kim Kardashian set foot on the peninsula!

So I'm learning as I go along and will immerse myself completely in east coast maritime culture as it relates to the world of pirates. I've even got costumes for Pirate Gathering weekend, which coincides with the soft opening of the museum on November 12. (The official grand opening is December 3.)

I will be concluding my journey in a rather conventional way, speaking at a Social Media Club South Florida panel on Tourism, Hospitality and Social Media on November 16.

Follow me on Twitter! By the grace of God and AT & T's 3G network, I will be barraging my Twitter stream with road trip commentary. Find me tweeting as @vicequeenmaria and microblogging with the hashtag #piratetrailfla.


I'd like to take a moment to thank all the businesses and organizations that have supported this fun, educational travel writing project with donations of goods or services, as well as the investment of time and collaboration in helping me organize my itinerary. Behold, in alphabetical order:

Annie's Costumes, Captain Hiram's Resort, Discover Martin County, Florida’s Historic Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Florida Keys and Key West, Hilton St. Augustine, History Miami Museum, Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and Marina, Hyatt Pier 66, Indian River Chamber of Commerce, Pirate Republic Seafood Grill and Bar, Visit Florida, and Westin Key West Resort.

Additional gratitude goes to a handful of individuals -- family and friends who indirectly contributed and made this possible.


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