BEAUFORT — With a huzzah and other celebratory cries, pirates swarmed into town and captured the mayor, officially beginning the annual Beaufort Pirate Invasion.
The fun started Saturday morning with a pirate parade, the capture of Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and a cannon blast heard ‘round town kicked off the shenanigans.
“It was a struggle, but the governor let me know the militia is on its way,” Mayor Newton said after he was officially inducted into the pirate society.
All joking aside, Mayor Newton said the annual event is a great thing for the town and people love attending it.
“It’s a great event for the town,” he said. “It’s well organized, safe and family friendly.”
Mayor Newton has been involved with the invasion since he was a small child and said this year’s event contains many factors that add to a great legacy.
“As long as it’s safe and people are having fun, it’s great for the community.”
The invasion offered plenty to do as attendees roamed the downtown district.
Living history encampments were set up at Lynn Eury Park and the Beaufort Historic Site, attendees could wet their whistles at one of the many vendor stops set up along Front Street’s vendors’ row and children could play a pirate scavenger hunt with Most Wanted cards found at the N.C. Maritime Museum.
Those who visited the encampments could learn a bit about a pirate’s life.
Don and Zachary Hass of Straits were set up beside Lynn Eury Park demonstrating the blacksmithing trade.
“I do this for a hobby,” Don said, noting he became interested in blacksmithing as a child and when he retired as a marine biologist, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gave him a beginner’s blacksmithing course as a present.
The duo was busy forging a tool that helps pirates light a cannon, but that’s not all they brought with them.
Don said blacksmiths were kept aboard pirate ships to help make things pirates used in their everyday lives, including pokers, cannon tools, hooks, a ladle, belt buckles, utensils and more.
“On the ship they would have a blacksmith who would make metal fittings for the ship, knives, spoons … there’s a lot of metal work on a sailing crew,” he said.
Over at the Beaufort Historic Site, David Gobel and Kevin Ott with the traveling group Leviathan Nautical Living History were explaining how pirate ships navigated open waters.
Pirates used tools like a depth sounding rope, compasses and a sextant, which is a tool that helps determing determines latitude, to aid them on the water.
Mr. Gobel said the length of a pirate’s journey depends on where they are sailing.
“To cross the Atlantic Ocean, you have to cross trade winds and follow the tides,” he said. “It would take about a good month, two months.”
Among those enjoying the encampment at the Beaufort Historic Site was the Bogenschutz family.
Amelia Bogenschutz, 4, of Jacksonville, tried her hand at a pirate tug-of-war game.
“She loves pirates,” her mother Tiffany Bogenschutz said. “I used to work in Beaufort, so we came to check it out and see what it entailed. It seemed like a fun event for the kids.”
“I like that they have puppies,” she said. “My favorite pirate is Captain Hook.”
Meanwhile, Edward Barbour, 4, of Wilmington, and his family were nabbing some gold doubloons from the pirate encampment.
“We come every year,” said Glenn Barbour, Edward’s grandfather, who lives in Raleigh but has a house in Atlantic Beach. “This is the biggest event we’ve ever been to.”
The family said they also like to ride on the pirate ships while attending the invasion.
Carl Cannon Jr., who portrays Blackbeard and is the event’s organizer, seemed to have similar thoughts on the invasion’s success.
“It’s great, things are going according to plan,” Mr. Cannon said. “We had a great parade with a large crowd meeting us at town hall.”
Mr. Cannon said attendees roaming around might even see some other familiar pirates and characters, like Darth Vader, who Mr. Cannon called a space pirate. The “Star Wars” villain will participate in an event at 4 p.m. Sunday, “The Gathering… Pirates from Across Time and Space.
The Beaufort Pirate Invasion continues until 6 p.m. Sunday with musical performances, living history encampments and other pirate activities.
Contact Megan Soult at 252-726-7081, ext. 228; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @meganCCNT.