Aargh. Once again, the junk food of maritime events, another “pirate” festival. This one is being sponsored by one of my favorite museums, the Maritime Museum of San Diego – home to the 1863 iron windjammer, Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship; the replica HMS Surprise (ex- HMS Rose), star performer in the academy award winning film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; and the replica 1874 revenue cutter, Californian, the Official Tall Ship of the State of California, among other historic and replica ships. They are also building a replica of the San Salvador, the ship on which the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into San Diego harbor in 1542. (See also: Maritime Museum, Port Celebrate Milestone in Construction of Historic Ship Replica.) None of the wonderful collection of ships or exhibits at the museum actually have anything to do with piracy, but be that as it may.
The museum’s Pirates Days on the Embarcadero! will take place on May 19 & 20, 2012.
The festivities sound like fun for the kids. One can only hope that their parents will explain to them, at some point, that all square rigged ships are not “pirate ships” and that there is more to nautical history than a Disney log-flume ride and the Johnny Depp movies that the ride inspired. There is so much that both adults and children can learn from the marvelous ships and exhibits that the museum has to offer, practically none of which has anything whatsoever to do with piracy.
Some argue that “pirate festivals” are gateway drugs to real learning about maritime history. That still strikes me as arguing that Twinkies are gateway drugs to a nutritious diet, but maybe I am being unduly grumpy, again.
For anyone interested in learning about the very real problem of piracy in the present day, they should visit Save Our Seafarers, an international group aimed at eradicating piracy around the world, in particular Somalia-based piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Hundreds of seafarers continue to be held hostage by pirates, often under terrible conditions.