PORT ISABEL – A moist breeze with a hint of fish scale wafted through the Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier as Ruby the Pirate Queen, dressed more like a wench, put her juggling skills on display.
First the cascade (the classic ball-tossing pattern with which most people are familiar), then she juggled bowling pins while balancing on a plant atop a barrel – absolute necessities for survival aboard a pirate ship.
“Owww,” she yelped, feigning a sore bottom. “There must be ninja pirates out there, and they’re after booty.”
Even if the double entendre escaped them, the little scallywags in the audience got a good laugh out of Ruby’s antics.
Ruby explained that sea legs are the product of bent knees and a gentle sway. She then fired a 9-pound “gollywobbler” cannon, our cue to step aboard the Black Dragon pirate ship, a replica of a 17th-century galleon, capable of handling as many as 80 crew members.
I had invited my wife and two young daughters along for the trip, thinking they’d get a kick out of a pirate show, but my 4-year-old, Matilda, was clearly not feeling the pirate vibe.
“Papa,” she whispered to me without taking her eyes off of Roba Todo (Robs Everything), the first mate. “I want to get off the boat.”
But it was too late; the Black Dragon was unmoored, and, within a matter of minutes, the ship was slicing through the blue waters of South Padre Bay.
We were introduced to the rest of the crew, including Nina and Captain No Beard, and the essentials of living by the pirate code. The most important rule aboard the Black Dragon, we learned, is equal shares in pirate treasure.
Between swashbuckling sword fights and water pistol battles were stories of pirate lore, a bit of sightseeing and even dolphin watching.
With the breeze to our backs and the thunderous clap of cannon fire keeping rival ships at a safe distance, the bar was opened, serving an assortment of grub and grog such as sodas, beer and, of course, rum.
Matilda had a scar painted on her cheek and a shark tattoo painted on her arm. Her older sister, Ana, 7, had a mustache painted on her lip and a skull and crossbones tattoo on her forearm.
Our pirate adventure had gone by in a flash.
As we returned to Pirate’s Landing Pier, Matilda – battle-hardened, weighted down with pirate booty, and a newly anointed member of the crew – had an air of confidence about her.
“Papa,” she said. “I’m not scared anymore
By Aaron M. Nelsen