Cayman’s faithful pirates reassemble

For the 32nd year in a row, Pirate Captain Darvin Ebanks is calling his crew together to prepare for action.

darvin the pirate

Costumes and accoutrements are displayed by the Pirates of Las Tortugas at a meeting to discuss activities for Pirates Week. From left, Captain Darvin Ebanks is joined by Perla Hamilton, Bruce Rankine, Jan Crisswell and Leroy Bodden. Photo: Carol Winker

He is also calling them by a new name. Originally known as the Cayman Pirates, the group has been re-designated by Captain Darvin as Pirates of Las Tortugas, Cayman Islands ‘because other entities had similar names to ours,’ he explained.

By whatever name he calls them, members come forward. Since early September they have been mapping their strategies for Cayman’s annual Pirates Week festivities, scheduled to start this year on 6 November.

The size of the crew has not always been the same, but there are more than a few faithful members who answer his call without fail.

Foremost among them is Leroy Bodden, who has been with Darvin since the first invasion in 1977. In the piratical hierarchy, Leroy should rank somewhere up with the first or second mate, but he is irreplaceable in his post of ship’s cook, according to the captain.

Crew organisation is important as plans take shape not only for the Pirates Landing Pageant but also for preliminary raids on local watering holes and requested appearances year-round.

Perla Hamilton, a 13-year veteran, is considered by the crew to be their sharpest lookout.

Jan Crisswell, signing on for her ninth year, is the respected boatswain. Bruce Rankine has been promoted to steward after seven years service.

Oneil Galbraith has been chief gunner for years, but Linda Furslind has on more than one occasion since 1995 displayed her marksmanship.

Other names on the crew list of longstanding include quartermaster Duke Tibbetts, along with Mileka Burrowes and Grisella Ebanks, whose duties include custody and hoisting of flags and colours. Newest member, with just a year or two of service, is Martin Leggatt, trusted as ship’s purser.

Weekly meetings began on 13 September at Paradise Bar and Restaurant and progressed on 20 September to Rackam’s Pub. Tomorrow night could find them any number of places as they bring their wardrobe ideas together and make suggestions before discussing landing scenarios with Pirates Week Committee officials.

Last week, both Jan and Perla estimated they had each spent between $150 and $200 for their costumes so far this year. They study history books and catalogues, and look over previous Pirates Week photos. Perla has purchased items of clothing and adapted them, while Jan has bought material and taken her ideas to a seamstress.

Bruce and Leroy were still working on their attire. Bruce pointed out that everyone needs at least two suits every season to look sharp at every event.

‘People come from all over the world to see us,’ Leroy said. ‘We do a good job. We do it for fun and they have fun.’

Captain Darvin estimated that by the time of the invasion at George town Harbour on 8 November, his crew will swell to 35 or 40 and will include enlisted allies from the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, the local contingent has stood ready to be called upon any time of year. Especially in the weeks ahead, as they visit establishments of relaxation and refreshment, patrons of such premises are bound to be entertained and intrigued.

As one of the Pirates of Las Tortugas explained, ‘Once they see our costumes, they get more fired up about Pirates Week.’

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