Aarrr, me hearties! If the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie has you craving a taste of the pirate’s life, you need to book tickets to the Dominican Republic this summer. A few years ago, divers exploring the reefs off Catalina island stumbled upon the skeletal remains of Quedagh Merchant, a ship last captained by a real pirate of the Caribbean, Captain Kidd.
The ship, laden with treasure, was captured by Kidd and his crew off the coast of India in 1698. It was one of Captain Kidd’s only successful plunders- he was technically a privateer, or a pirate employed by the British Navy to capture other pirates and prey on the ships of rival navies. So, he didn’t attack every ship he came across. This enraged his crew, which was far less concerned with staying on the good side of the Royal Navy.
Unfortunately, even the Quedagh Merchant was not technically legal prey – although it flew under a French flag, the captain was an Englishman. With a price on his head, Captain Kidd left the boat in the Caribbean with his “trusted” crew, and sailed to New York to try to clear his name.
Of course, as soon as his ship passed the horizon, his crew took the opportunity to sink the Quedagh Merchant and make off with the treasure. Pirates, right? What can you do?
In New York, Kidd was arrested and taken to England, where he was convicted of piracy and hung. His decaying body was placed in a gibbet over the Thames, where it remained for the next 20 years as a warning to others.
What of the Quedagh Merchant? Discovered in 2007, it was dedicated this month as an underwater museum and nature preserve. According to Science Daily, it is expected to become quite popular:
“As the interest in eco-tourism and unique vacation destinations continues to grow, this Living Museum of the Sea is predicted to be a sought-after destination for those seeking underwater adventures combined with significant 17th century maritime history representative of the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean.” (more…)