OK, she's not a pirate, but pirates and wenches go hand in hand. And nothing gets attention like a busty babe serving beer!
Trail of the Pirates, the road trip from Key West to St. Augustine, is expanding in a new series of stories about pirate groups, activities and history in general. I'll focus on Florida first but will eventually move beyond wherever fair winds may take me!
PIRATES OF THE TREASURE COAST
In this installment, I didn't have to travel far -- only 40 miles north to Deerfield Beach where pirates roamed the ground of the Florida Renaissance Festival two weekends ago. Much to my delight, I bumped into two pirates I met in St. Augustine who hail from Palm Beach County and are members of Pirates of the Treasure Coast. They manage a small scale replica of Blackbeard's flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, which you can see at the fair. The vessel is fully rigged.
Pirates of the Treasure Coast on the Queen Anne's Revenge.
My pirate friends, whom I originally met in St. Augustine, crack me up every time.
EAST COAST PRIVATEERS
I also became acquainted with the East Coast Privateers, who are based in Broward. Drake, the Master of Arms, welcomed me to the encampment where I enjoyed home made grog, a behind-the-scenes look at black powder firing, conversations about weaponry and sword fighting and most importantly, great company from Drake and other pirates in the krewe. The East Coast Privateers pride themselves in being the only local krewe with a license to fire black powder at public events and are certified by National Park standards. All members who fire weapons are trained in the art. As well, Drake himself is an accomplished swordsman.
A lovely lass from the East Coast Privateers.
Drake in front of his tent, which he shared with his lovely pirate girlfriend. Ladies, the shirt came off because it was a hot day ... a very HOT day, as can clearly be seen in this photo.
Cleaning and prepping the black powder weapons at the encampment, where some of the pirates spend the night during the festival.
Captain Blackwolfe of the East Coast Privateers.
This privateer is known as Misfire, but he was certainly adept at firing the cannon.
Thinking of pirates in the Renaissance is somewhat anachronistic though sea-faring cultures have been plundering vessels for a long time. But it was easy to suspend my disbelief as the Golden Age of Piracy went back in time to mingle with jousters, falconers and knights.
THE FAIR AT LARGE
Spending time at the Renaissance Fair was the most wholesome fun I've had in a long time even though it wasn't all kiddie stuff. (I actually played a scullery maid at a Renaissance Fair in Crandon Park when in high school and haven't been to such a fair since the late '80s.)
Now in its 19th year, this particular production is worth every penny of the $20 adult admission. Get in, grab a cold brew and walk the grounds to see fantastic costumes, craft work, authentic encampments, reenactments, street performers and amusing acts.
The Duelists, a pair of sexy swashbucklers combining their sword play with raunchy humor, were my favorite act besides the pirates, of course. The closing Pub Sing, where members of courts and musical acts gather with the public to sing and dance, was also great fun. I particularly enjoyed bawdy singers Iris and Rose and The Limey Birds trio.
Some of it was educational, too. I learned how the English made ink in the 16th century and saw some beautiful leather-bound blank journals with paper made from cotton -- the original blogging tools, if you will. Both ink and paper were for sale, in case anyone was inclined to pick up a quill and write like a centuries old scribe.
The Duelists doing their thing. There was a group of young children in the audience so they had to tame their act. Nonetheless, the kids couldn't stop laughing and had a wonderful time heckling the performers.
The turkey leg is a popular food item at the fair. I had a 12" grilled sausage on a stick though. Surprised?
What's not to love about good, clean fun with wet, dirty women? The act is called Washing Well Wenches and involves audience participation.
You know Sex and the Beach couldn't help but notice the impressive codpiece worn by this axe thrower.
An illuminated manuscript copied from a 1596 century recipe for ink made with oak galls, wine, gum arabic, vitriol and iron sulfate. The calligraphy took about eight hours to complete.
Getting smiles from the street characters alone is worth the visit.
Iris and Rose, who describe themselves as "wild and thorny," were part of the Pub Sing.
You won't find this kind of gear at Walmart.
IF YOU GO
You have two more weekends to enjoy the Florida Renaissance Festival, located at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. The theme for March 5-6 is is "Bodacious Bodices" (ladies, you will simply swoon at the corsets, skirts and other clothing items available for sale here). The following weekend, March 12-13, goes Celtic with a "Kiss the Blarney Stone" theme. Although I went two days in a row, I recommend visiting at least noon till closing time -- there's much to see. Give yourself an extra 30 minutes or so to negotiate parking, which is organized and features a shuttle to the main entrance. Wear closed-toe comfortable shoes.
Although I enjoyed special access to the pirates in order to write this post, you too can stop by and say hello while you're at the fair. You'll find the resident pirates toward the west end of the park by the lake. The Queen Anne's Revenge is on display and The East Coast Privateers fire canons and guns with a reenactment show for kids and adults 12:30 and 3 PM each day.