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Pirates in Paradise 2007 - Key West, Fl

Chapter 7th - The surgeon switches sides, abandons his Hippocratic Oath, attends the evening end-of-the-event bash and just generally does nothing much of use on the last day of the event.

December 2nd, PM Today was pretty relaxed as far as events went. At least, it was so for Mission who does not, in fact, get hangovers, but does get sort of logy and listless the day after a night of extreme frivolity. It was my goal to get to fire the cannons during the battle today, which I did get to do. I had to switch sides to do it, which is actually entirely in character for my captured surgeon. So there. An outstanding local re-enactor named Mark showed me the ropes. First, you seal the touch hole on top of the cannon, then you put the charge in (those of you who know proper terms for these procedures, forgive me if I don't have them stated completely cricket.). You pack it down, then you prick it through the touch hole. You stick the fuse in and hook a fuse-pull (or string with a hook) to it. You then stand back and yank the pull cord when ordered to fire.


Photo: Tony Callahan

Above:Mission (that small brown dot with white socks stooped over the small red cannon way over near the left) awaits the signal from Commander 'Arry to fire the cannon at the pirate's ship (aka The Wolf). In the middle you can see Mary Diamond conversing with a redcoat soldier and at right you'll find Captain Sterling picnicking and the crew of the Archangel frolicking.

Mark
Photo: Tony Callahan
The cannon then makes an insanely loud boom, following which Mark, your instructor (seen in the photo at right, probably grinning at the thought of his naive protégé) explains that he forgot to tell you to cover your ear when you fire the cannon. (What?! What did you say?!) I was merely supposed to pull the rope once to be able to say I'd had the experience, but Mark's trusty assistant apparently wasn't so trusty and we wound up being a cannon team, cleaning, loading and firing the cannon five times. This was actually really, really cool.

Amanjiria filmed some of this, so you can see the Mercury's surgeon violating the Hippocratic Oath when he posts it online. (War is hell. Video-editing is worse.) Meanwhile, you can see some other clips of this (and other) battles in the first short video which he has online placed online.


Photo: Tony Callahan
The British and militia forces (of which I'm now part) attaching the pirates in the fort during the 3rd battle.
The pirates fire their cannon at the British defenders
Photo: Tony Callahan
The pirates fire a decisive cannon shot at the British.

We then all marched into the fort and tried to attack the pirates who held the fort from yesterday. Much gunfire was exchanged and then the shot the cannon at us and we (the redcoats and militia) all fell down dead. It may not sound like much in prose (hopefully the pics help), but the crowd thought it was pretty funny. Then, of course, we had to put up with the stealing of shoes and looting. Bloody pirates!

Pirates loot and pose with the dead
Photo: Tony Callahan
Pirates looting the dead and acting brave...
The dead get up after a suitable mourning period
Photo: Tony Callahan
...followed by a miraculous recovery!

Immediately following my untimely death, I was initiated as a "fresh fish" by holding some important guy's sword and having my cheeks marked with the wet sponge that was used to clean the cannon. Actually, since I wasn't with the pirates, I was standing around the edges of this ceremony until Mad Mary Diamond spotted me and proved just how mad she is by dragging me bodily into the fresh fish group. (I know Amanjiria filmed this, so you can all look forward to seeing it when he puts the video on-line.) It didn't mark me much, but the water stunk pretty badly. My cannon instructor Mark later explained that from civil war re-enactments, he had learned that this was done to make black marks on the cheeks of first-timers for safety reasons - everyone knew a newbie was on the cannon team.

Inducting new cannoneers
Photo: Tony Callahan
Fresh fish preparing to be initiated by the important guy.
Being inducted into the new cannon novices
Photo: Tony Callahan
Holding important guy's sword.

Photo: Tony Callahan
Applying the stinky sponge.

We spent a lazy day around the fort and encampment after that. Several people had to work on Monday (poor folks), so they packed up and left. (Be sure to plan to be there an extra day if you go!) While we were hanging around the wall of the fort that night, we were all treated to the "green flash" as the sun dipped below the horizon. Both Silkie McDonough and I also saw an blue flash right after the green flash, which was really neat. Tony Callahan managed to get shots of each of them (although the blue flash (bottom photo) is a bit harder to see).

Key West blue flash
Photo: Tony Callahan
Rare Key West green flash
Photo: Tony Callahan

A ceremony took place that night to officially close PiP with a lot of "Hip-hip-huzzahs!" and a presentation of special bottles of wine to our own Quartermaster William for all his hard work in getting the encampment up and running. Dinner was a roast pig affair in the fort (with yellow rice, corn-on-the-cob and plantains for us vegetarians). Everyone ate alfresco on the fort parade grounds, talking about what a great weekend it had been. I didn't count, but I'd guess that there were at least a 100 volunteers/re-enactors in attendance. There was free rum and beer available, but your poor ship's surgeon just wasn't up to the challenge and drank water and diet Coke.

After that, we strung up the new Pyracy.com flag that William had painted several days ago across one of the fort archways and took several group photos - some with everyone from the pub who was still there (see the first photo on Chapter 3rd of your humble surgeon's journal), some with the Mercury and Archangel camps. In fact, they may still be shooting those photos as Tony Callahan was getting into some tricky shots when I left.

The Mercury crew pointing weapons at each other
Photo: Tony Callahan
The Mercury Crew at each other's throats

The Archangel crew waving flares about.
Photo: Tony Callahan
The Archangel Crew and the mysterious ghosts

I thought I was done with the period clothes, but Spike, of the Bone Island Buccaneers did manage to get me a pass into the Pirate Soul Museum to take photos with the genuine pirate-era surgical instruments in the museum. Amanjiria is planning to film it if I can remember enough to explain what I am looking at. (I hope he's a good film editor...) So I must go period for a few hours more. (Next year, I'll bring more pairs of period socks and at least one more shirt.) Well, somewhat early day tomorrow. Ta!

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