Before Johnny Depp and Jack Sparrow hit the screens, for most of us, that most famous creation of Robert Louis Stevenson; Long John Silver represented the archetypal seafaring buccaneer, with his parrot, gold earring and his relentless search for Flint’s treasure. I remember as a very small child, being frightened by Robert Newton’s portrayal of Silver the 1950 Disney production of Treasure Island.
If you’ve seen the film or read the book, “Treasure Island” is a great story, but for a sequel, track down Bjorn Larsson’s book “Long John Silver”. The Swedish author has captured the character of Long John Silver and produced a book which chronicles his life and character both before and after Treasure Island, his journey through the often savage times and circumstances, which led him into to piracy.
The most remarkable and wholly believable aspect of Larsson’s characterisation is the intelligence, wit and overarching thirst for survival which Silver possesses and which allows him to rise apart from the bloodthirsty rabble, who were his fellow pirates. Pirate fans should track down a copy.
We tried calling them on the VHF with no result, the light continued to flash out the mysterious message. Then the penny dropped, if I were on a ship and meeting someone in secret, an aldis lamp is perfect for such clandestine signals.
Since we clearly weren’t the people they might be expecting, we shut off all our lights, and in the darkness put the boat onto a fast reach, heading out into the Atlantic as fast as we could sail, hoping that they didn’t have radar and didn’t follow us. After an anxious hour it was clear they weren’t following and after another equally anxious hour their lights had gone out of sight below the horizon.
Pirates, who knows? It could have been perfectly innocent, just fishermen hauling nets, but it was scary at the time. Scary enough for us to sail with lights out at night, and to make sure we stayed at least 100 miles off the African coast; until we made our approach to Banjul in Gambia.
And a final Pirate thought
Why are Pirates called Pirates?
Because they ArrrAH!