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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion/ Pirates in Paradise Celebration
Nov/Dec 2011 - Key West, FL

Chapter 3rd: Detailing what occurred at Fort Taylor once the Pirate Invasion started. Including not setting up the tent with Beowulf; Jack sewing up the brown tent fly
Photo: Mission
Jack Roberts. "Sleep? Sleep is for wimps!"
The arrival of the Archangel Crew (the twins and Jack); Fortuitously meeting Captain R. Hood; Pressing the twins Mae and Brig into service to help retrieve the surgeon's chest; Of baggywrinkles; Doing some morning surgical presentations; Watching the Friday battle from the fort wall; Mae's adventures with a local Iguana and some other fascinating things.

Being the first official day of the Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion, I thought it prudent to go over and set up my surgical display in the late morning. Mae and Brig were there when I arrived. I was thrilled to see my fellow twins and Jack Roberts. They had apparently driven all night and arrived shortly before I had showed up. I offered my condo to the three of them to grab naps in a shade-darkened room, but they claimed to be able to sleep during the middle of the day in the middle of the event. (I can't even fathom this.) Jack doesn't actually need sleep as anyone who has seen the nature and detail of his gear and setup will immediately recognize. In fact, he spent the morning hand-stitching a rather natty dark brown fly for their tent.

Twins Mae and BrigPhoto: Mae
Twins Action Figures: Brig™ and Mae™
"They're little, they're cute and they
come in a set."
Mission insouciantPhoto: 1st Mate Matt
Third Twin™ Action Figure: Mission
"Special Edition 3rd Twin™ -
Emphasis on 'Special'"
Mike the Skeleton Pirate and Cannibal Chrispy Photo: Mission
Twins Action Figures: Mike and Chrispy
"The Plunder Twins™ - Jingly Belt Skeleton
Mike™ and Voodoo Hat Chrispy

While standing there wondering where to set up the surgeon's display, the twins asked me if there was something they could do to help. I was no where near organized enough to recruit volunteers at this point. However, I had noticed that the Pyracy Pub sign had blown up onto the fort wall and suggested that they go fix it while I tried to sort myself out. I know this is the sort of action-packed photography that you readers appreciate, so I am putting the photos in here for your enjoyment.

Twins straightening the Pyracy 
     Pub sign 1Photo: Mae
Mae and Brig Fix the Pyracy Pub Sign/Flag
Twins straightening the Pyracy Pub sign 2Photo: 1st Mate Matt
A close up of that exciting bit of work

As I was wandering around, trying to pretend I was organizing the surgeon's display, I ran across Deadeye - who was (naturally) carrying a cannon. Bucky from 2008
Photo: Callahans (PiP 2008)
Bucky hanging around in 2008
He was coming into the fort and he proudly pointed out Becky, the gibbeted skeleton I had created in 2009 for the fort. "She was hard to get up there," Deadeye explained. "I had to climb out there and tie the gibbet onto the hook. It was a little scary." Since Deadeye can't see very well, I can imagine it was a little scary. Then again, maybe that would work to his advantage. How many of you have closed your eyes when you were 'out on a limb?' Whatever the case, he seemed pretty proud of his feat. I didn't have the heart to ask him why he didn't just loop the rope over the hook and tie it off to the fence on the wall like they did with Bucky in 2008 (left).

Curiously, someone had asked Deadeye to take Becky's clothes off before putting her up. I asked several people why in an effort to figure out why this had been done but no two people gave me the same answer. (Why a naked female skeleton is preferable to a clothed one is a mystery for the ages.) It probably wouldn't have bothered me quite as much if you couldn't see where the decaying skin effect ended and the skeleton began. (You can even see some of the blue tape in the photo below right.) This was already a sore spot with me as she hadn't been put up in 2009 or 2010 and Bucky (her mate) was missing this year. I really wanted to see the skeleton couple united and hanging on the fort wall in their matching gibbets. *Sigh* OK, I'll stop whining about this. It's just that every time I saw her, it re-opened the wound. I really wanted pic of Becky hanging over the fort for her web page.

Deadeye with his little cannonPhoto: Mission
Deadeye and his little cannon
Becky naked in the gibbetPhoto: DB Couper
Becky scandalously naked!
Becky close upPhoto: Caribbean Pearl
Becky close up

There were quite a number of tents already set up so I figured one of them had to be available for my surgeon's display somewhere. (Scarlett Jai and Deadeye had made me a sign, after all. They must have wanted me to go somewhere. (No comments from the peanut gallery on where I should go, thanks.))

Panoramic Shot of the fortPhoto: Mae
I asked Lily, who pointed me in a general direction and said it was in Beowulf's tent. Ambling in that general direction, I found Beowulf! Progress had been made. I was hoping it would be like last year and the Mercury crew would already have everything set up, but this was not the case. In fact, Beowulf and I were the Mercury Crew. Two tents had been set up: one for Michael and one for Beowulf, but that was the extent of our site. I probably should have gone over Wednesday or Thursday and helped set things up, but it was too late for that now. So Beowulf Mae ties Mission's Head Scarf on
Photo: Mission
and I went about the business of getting a fly up to cover the surgical stuff. (It rusts if it even sees water, so I wanted to be prepared in case it rained. Besides, if you have to stand around on thinly covered coral rocks, I find it's best to stand on thinly covered coral rocks in the shade.)

Now you would think that an operation as simple as erecting the three poles required for the fly permanently attached to a standing tent would be pretty simple for two guys. You would be wrong. Apparently, when it comes to tents, ropes (or 'lines,' as several people kept correcting me) and such, we were both mechanically disinclined. (Beowulf has an excuse - he works in psychiatry and never really was all that interested in mechanical stuff. I, on the other hand, am a mechanical engineer and a former Boy Scout. Yet I can't even tie my own head scarf, as you can see at left.) Add to this the fact that we had no ropes and only three bent stakes to work with and the whole thing looked a bit bleak for the surgeon's canvas fly.

Photo: Maria De Los Angeles
Baggywrinkles in their natural habitat
Fortunately, our neighbor was a charter boat captain here in Key West by the name of Captain R. Hood.

He was putting on a rope demonstration featuring the creation of something that has been marvelously named "baggywrinkles." He explained what baggywrinkles were to me, but he spoke in sailor code, so I had no clue what he meant. (Like 'line.' It's not line, it's rope. A line is something you draw with a pencil, straight if you're sober, squiggly if you're not.) He said something about the sails luffing and canvas wearing and baggiewrinkles protecting and other noun/present progressive verb combinations.

Basically they're there to keep the sails from being rubbed by the ropes.

Captain R. Hood
Photo: Mission
Captain Hood in his natural habitat
Captain Hood had some rope, so he came over and took over our failing operation. It turns out he can tie knots from memory - and even tie the right knots from memory - which he proceeded to do once he drove the stakes into the ground. Of course, we had three poles to be installed along the front of the fly and only three stakes, so we only managed to get one pole up. (I would like to note here that tent stakes and coral do not go together at all. Poor Captain Hood wounded his hand with the hammer while Beowulf and I looked on sympathetically.)

Captain Hood also started running out of rope, which wouldn't do since he needed to make baggywrinkles during the weekend. (Baggywrinkles. Say it out loud; it's fun!) So Beowulf and I wandered off in search of more stakes and rope. I believe I've said it before, but I'll say it again: pirate re-enactors are some of the most generous people around. Within short order, we had rope and serious steel tent stakes thanks to Deadeye and some rope thanks to Sherry Walp of the Hudson Bay Trading company. Voila! The fly was erected. (Huzzah.)

The Surgeon's Chest
Photo: Mission
73 pounds of surgeon's chest - the most
exciting photo you'll find in the journal!
The next feat was to get the 73 pounds of surgical equipment from Edward and Lily's car over to our tent. Scarlett & Mission
Photo: Mission
Scarlett and Mission
Now that the event was open, vehicles were not permitted in the park, so that meant carrying that monster box of mine. It has nice handles and everything, but 73 pounds gets heavier and heavier with each step. Lily offered to drive the Gator over for me, but was then immediately pulled away to deal with some more pressing issue. So I asked Scarlett Jai about the Gator. She suggested I drive it. Well! You don't have to tell me twice!

The twins offered to help me, which was completely absurd given that the box weighs almost more than either of them. So I naturally accepted their assistance. We all climbed in the Gator. They wanted to sit in back. This is probably illegal on Officious Florida Park Property and it was also sort of silly, so of course we did that. After seeing what kind of Gator driver I was, they opted to sit together on the front seat on the way back.

Twins in the back of the gator goingPhoto: Mission
Leaving (in back)
View of their feet in the gatorPhoto: Mae
Twin cam! A twin's eye view. (Mae made a video of this too...)
Twins in the gator coming backPhoto: Mission
Returning (in front)

Having accomplished all this, I set up my surgical stuff and started doing the surgeon gig. We got quite a bit of traffic for a Friday and I was pleasantly busy until the battle started. Scarlett Jai and Lily had threatened several times to have me do a surgery immediately following the battle, so I decided to hang around in the fort and watch the battle from the fort wall rather than go out on the field. I can just as useless on the fort wall as I can on the battlefield, after all.

Mission presentingPhoto: DB Couper
Mission explaining 17th/c8th c. Surgery
Mission showing finger amputationPhoto: DB Couper
Showing finger amputation with nippers
Missing showing self-administering clyster syringePhoto: DB Couper
The Self-Administering Clyster

Looking out 
       the gunport at the battle 1
Photo: Mission
Looking out 
       the gunport at the battle 2
Photo: DB Couper
Naturally the battle didn't start on time - this is Key West. So Mae, Brig and I contented ourselves with wandering around on the fort wall.

There was a large iguana on the wall, which Mae decided to feed grapes. At first she was tossing the grapes at the iguana. I teased her about this, thinking she was afraid of it. Brig told me she actually used to work somewhere where she was charged with the care and feeding of reptiles and snakes. (This brings to mind the Mae snake, which I will not explain here. Go read about it for yourself.)

Mae feeding 
       the iguana 1
Photo: Mission
Mae informed me that she was not afraid of the iguana, it was afraid of her. So she was coaxing it by tossing the grapes near it. Eventually greed got the better of the iguana and he waddled over to Mae and took a grape out of her hand. The folks who were on the fort wall to see the battle were entranced by this since nothing interesting was doing on the battlefield yet. Better a twin feeding an iguana grapes than staring at people standing around in the middle of a dusty field. After a bit, the iguana got too greedy and bit Mae's finger. Brig said it was no big deal. (Of course, Brig could say this wasn't a big deal because she wasn't the one that got bit.) She noted that when Mae came home from her reptilian-care job, she would always have cuts and bruises. Mae later informed me that the iguana actually felt bad because it only nipped her briefly, not sinking its teeth in. "Its teeth are small like a snake." (Small like a SNAKE? Somehow that fails to conjure a comforting image in my mind.)

Mae feeding the iguana 2 Photo: Mission
Mae feeding the iguana grapes from her fingers... a decision
she would soon regret (slightly)
Mae showing finger bitten by iguana Photo: Mission
Mae showing the finger bitten by
the iguana. (What?)
Mae showing finger bitten by iguana 2 Photo: Mission
Mae realizing I was taking
that photo and moving

Diosa and 
       Joe Presenting the Past
Photo: Mission
Diosa and her friend (whose name I don't think I have heard, so I can't even guess it) were doing battle commentary and they were keeping up a pretty lively patter while the pirates and British continued setting up on the battlefield. Diosa and her friend...we'll just call him 'Joe'... had been telling stories and explaining things earlier in the main gathering area for the crowd. Their group is Presenting the Past, and they were living up to that moniker.

The battle eventually started with Spike (in redcoat uniform) going over to where the pirates were for some reason. I didn't quite catch all the commentary because I was trying to figure out how to take photos in such a way that they explained what was going on down there - thus failing to understand what was going on down there. Isn't it all just so ironic?

Diosa explaining the battlePhoto: Mission
Diosa explaining the battle...
or preparing for take off.
Joe explaining the battlePhoto: Mission
Joe doing battle color commentary.
He is explaining cannon firing here.
Joe laughingPhoto: Mission
Joe laughing at the tourists. (I'm kidding! I think!)
Actually, I have no idea what Joe is doing here.

Spike running back to the British side
Photo: Mission
Spike running back. See that guy in the foreground?
I have no idea who he is. Good stuff, huh?
Anyhow, Spike went over there, something happened and he ran back over to the British side of the battleground. Well, he jogged back. The pirates started firing, getting off at least two rounds before the British started firing back. There was cannon and small arms fire, although it was sort of slow going from the fort wall POV because they'd fire and then have to reload, which takes several minutes even in the best of circumstances from my experience. Diosa's companion "Joe" (who seemed to be the color commentator) explained how the cannon process worked while the crowd was waiting for the next salvo. They fired off several rounds which is not nearly as interesting to watch from the fort wall as it is from the battlefield. The crowd started getting restless. The two opposing forces eventually ran at each other and some sword skirmishes broke out.

Pirates charge! Photo: Mission
The pirates charge after Spike!
The iguana and the BritsPhoto: Mission
The iguana and the Brits
Battle - sword fightPhoto: Mission
One of the sword fights during the battle.

There were a lot of wounded by the end of it, so I thought it would be best to go resume my station for the wounded patient I may have to tend. This never happened, however, so I dodged that bullet. (Hah!) Several groups of tourists did come to see me allowing me to natter on about period surgery. Several of the pirate crews talked to me about my presentation because they were interested in having a surgeon in their crew. Handsome Devlin of the Valhalla's Pirates come Captain Hood explaining sailors and 
Photo: DB Couper
Captain Hood entertaining folks
over to see my display and we talked at length about how he should start collecting what he'd need. Captain Black wandered over and they started discussing what on my table would be useful for the amputation presentation they wanted to do. I also talked with Sawbones Sara from the Keys. We chatted a bit about what she needed to put together her surgeon's kit. It was all very pleasant.

I want to close out this chapter with a mention of some of the other displays. Like last year, there was a wide variety of interesting displays being put on throughout the day. For example, Vendor Extraordinaire Greg Hudson sang sea shanties daily in the gathering tent as you see below left. I believe Edward O'Keefe put on some sort of sailor's skills presentation, although I didn't actually see it. You'll find him below center whipping the end of a rope (Or 'line,' depending on how picky people are being about terminology.) And DB Couper had again set up his mast/sail configuration at his site, this time with an oar sticking out of it as you see below right. (Is that an oar, or is your campsite just happy to see me?) DB gave a presentation about wrecking and Key West.

Greg sings for his supperPhoto: Sandi Bilbo
Edward whipping the end of a ropePhoto: Mission
Wreckers displayPhoto: DB Couper

There was also some sort of display with Oreo the African Raven. DB Couper got a whole series of photos of the Pirates of the Dark Rose's Major Mayhem (aka Bloodthirsty Barbara) and Oreo having a disagreement. It certainly looks like it would have been good entertainment. You can see a whole series of photos of this in DB's photo album on-line.

Oreo and Major Mayhem 1Photo: DB Couper
Oreo and Major Mayhem 2Photo: DB Couper
Oreo and Major Mayhem 3Photo: DB Couper

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