Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pirates and Privateers

I'm in Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island at the moment and already I'm gripped by the rich history attaching to this fascinating part of the world. The Bahamas are made up of some 700 Islands and Cays scattered over 100,000 square miles in the mid-Atlantic; their topography having made them an ideal target for pirates, freebooters, buccaneers and privateers alike. Tales of adventurers operating alone, or in tandem, have been handed down through the generations to such an extent that it's now virtually impossible to differentiate between myth and historical fact.

What is certain is that the infamous Blackbeard started his dastardly career in Charles Town (later to become Nassau), in 1716. Discontent with the standard symbol of skull and crossbones, peculiar to most pirates, Blackbeard designed his own flag, which sported a skeleton holding an hourglass in one hand and a spear in the other, whilst standing beside a bleeding heart. Scary!

Blackbeard was once famously described as,

'the embodiment of impregnable wickedness, of reckless daring, a nightmarish villain so lacking in any human kindness that no crime was above him ... the living picture of an ogre who roamed the seas and withered all before him with his very presence.'

That sort of testament stirs the novelist within me. If Blackbeard was so lacking in all decent feeling then it's reasonable to suppose that he would have added wenching to his list of evils. That being so then surely some of his descendents must have inhabited The Bahamas during the Regency period?

Hum, time to redress the balance, I think. Now there just has to be a book in there somewhere.

Wendy Soliman

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