This post is part three of a three part series I’m titling ‘A Pirates Life.’
I wish part three of this story was going to be more dignified. When it came time for me to finally take the wheel, the ship was full of experienced senior sailors that’d been with the crew for years. Being Captain didn’t involve any organizing, direction, order giving, or really anything that a typical captain does. In fact, it took most of the crew some time to get used to the idea that I’d be using the Captain’s Quarters as my own. On more than one occasion I’d come in to find someone else “borrowing” the captain’s desk to write personal correspondence and such, usually I’d just pretend I came looking for my sextant and save my entries into the ship’s log for later.
While captain, the ship kept sailing itself most of the time without any major efforts from the crew. We’d filled most of the large holds with treasure and our days at see were less about finding the next treasure and more about making sure the ship didn’t sink or get looted by other pirates making their way around the sea, most days onboard were fairly relaxing for the crew and I. I suspect under my watch we could have gathered more treasure and figured out somewhere to store it, and I probably shouldn’t have let the crew pillage as many towns as they did, but I was never completely sure any of them identified with me as the captain. I was merely the guy with a funny hat who occasionally shared reports with the Pirate Lord. In fact, for much my first year on the ship the Pirate Lord was friendlier with some of the experienced sailors on board, I was merely the figurehead of the ship at the Pirate Council.
As my first full year at the helm winded down, we made a stop at the home port of many of the senior sailors that had been with the ship for nearly as long as I. Their contracts were up and it seemed like a good time for them to take their share of the loot ashore. I stayed away from the tavern those nights back in town when the crew was celebrating the end and drinking to their tales of the sea, I was still the Captain of the ship with work to do and, to be frank, was never quite sure they’d welcome me either.
We set sail again, following the course we previously had been on. The ship was lighter (both in experienced sailors and treasure) which meant the wind could blow us around a bit more. I did my best to keep the ship on course, but it was tough with a younger crew and the much lighter vessel. After steering us through a storm or two mostly unscathed much of the time was spent, as it had been past, with a more relaxed atmosphere on board. I made sure that our chests still had plenty to go around in them, and that satisfaction didn’t breed the most ambitious attitude. Nobody died on my watch, we didn’t get hit with any cannon balls, but we also didn’t collect too much new treasure either.
I wish I left the helm of the ship in the glory of battle, at the sword of another or riding the ship down to Davy Jones’ Locker. Unfortunately neither was the case. As we made our way back into port I knew my days as Captain were numbered. A new Pirate Lord recently been installed and some new captains in the council hoped to breath some fresh air into things. The Pirate Lord and I agreed we’d meet one night to discuss a successor. I was informed the next day on a routine trip to order some supplies for the ship that in my absence a successor been named and would be installed at the next meeting of the Pirate Council. I felt betrayed at the thought that my ship, the ship I’d been the captain of for the past few years, could and would be handed over to someone I’d had no say in the selection of. They didn’t know how she fairs during storms and how to stop her from rolling, but orders were orders. I showed up the Pirate Council and nodded in approval of the process, but only out of allegiance to the newly office now held by the newly installed Pirate Lord.I feared speaking out then might have jeopardized the grander scheme of things, whatever that may be.
I handed over the keys, signed a hasty final entry in the ships log, and packed my things to head ashore. There’s some irony in the fact that the new captain drowned 3 months later, but that’s not my story to tell. By the time I arrived ashore all the senior crew members that left the year prior had scattered and left. I found myself alone much like I had when I first arrived in town, though this time I had my share of the treasure instead of the guy I shared a ride with. I didn’t bother setting foot back inside that tavern, there’d be no one there who knew of me or my days at the helm of the ship. I suspect I’ll be lucky to be lucky to be a footnote in the history of the Pirate Fleet, the captain known only for not sinking the ship and ruining everything.
I did what it seemed like any seaman would do with a chest full of goal and hardly any reason to stay. I use a handful of gold coins to buy my way out of there on horseback.