If someone shouts “shiver me timbers!” at you this month, don’t worry: it’s most likely International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a tradition that has spread faster than scurvy on a doomed schooner. Celebrated on September 19, it may be the only time — aside from Renaissance fairs and Halloween — when it’s acceptable to dress (and, obviously, talk) like a pirate. Wannabe swashbucklers and scalawags worldwide acknowledge the holiday, from Oregon (where it originated) to Australia, and everywhere in between.
The Valley has its own band of buccaneers, known as the Half Moon Marauders, and they’ll make sure you don’t forget it. Based in Port Jervis, the Marauders hail from all over the mid-Hudson. “We have a core of about five, and then a few more who drift in and out,” says Cap’n Craig Browne, founder and captain of the crew. Fear of mutiny doesn’t apply here, though. “It’s a lot like a real pirate ship — I have the title, but the authority really rests with the crew,” he chuckles.
Pirates? In Port Jervis? “We are a living history group,” says Browne. “We try to educate the public about what life was like in the 18th century and why piracy was so important to that time period.” Of course, the Golden Age of piracy — roughly 1680 to 1720 — is the Marauders’ preferred era. “It’s the most popular era for pirate reenactors,” he points out.
Lady Brower watches over the pirates’ campsite during a reenactment
The crew attends events held throughout the tristate area, reenacting skirmishes and displaying period clothing, weapons, and food. When they’re not pillaging and plundering, the Marauders forgo their adventuresome ways for more mainstream pursuits. One crew member, Lady Brower, has established her own clothing brand on Etsy.com (she also creates costumes for the crew); Browne himself is a science teacher at Cornwall High School, as well as a program director at Salt Point’s Camp Nooteeming during the summer.
“We’re only two years old, but have built a good reputation in the pirate community,” the captain says. For instance, the group took part in Kingston’s Springtide Festival last year, and they’ve become quite chummy with Sea Rats Atlantic (a similar group based in New Jersey). “Each event has a different focus, from fantasy to hard-core pirate reenactment. We gravitate towards events that allow us to be historically accurate,” he adds.
“When I started the Half Moon Marauders, I had no idea how large the pirate subculture was. I believe we may be the northernmost pirate group in the eastern United States,” says Browne. “Pirateering helped build New Amsterdam; it’s fitting that the Half Moon Marauders exist to celebrate this neglected part of our heritage.”