The Pirate's Ransom stands out among all the boats moored at Florida's Clearwater Marina. Painted candy-apple red with jet-black trim--with a cartoonishly high poop deck, boldly striped sails, and a basket-like crow's nest--the triple-decker hardly even needs to fly a skull-and-crossbones flag to make its piratical presence known.
Families venturing aboard the 70-foot vessel soon err (make that aaarrr) toward the swashbuckling attitudes of crewmates with such scurvy names as Capt. Typhoon Tom, Capt. Dastardly Dan, and Adventuress Annabell. During the two playful hours of Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise, everyone snarls along.
The flamboyant ship barely clears Clearwater Harbor before paper pirate hats or skull-print bandannas top every head. Face paint converts even the peachiest cheeks and chins into scrolling mustaches, fanciful goatees, and scruffy sideburns. By the time the voyage reaches the open Gulf, a full-throttle deck party is in progress.
A sea chest full of blunderbuss-style water pistols emerges, pitting kids against parents in a soak 'em fest that gets everyone laughing. Plastic cutlasses provide props for rollicking sword fights. News that some doubloons are missing starts a frantic finders-keepers treasure hunt.
Lilting tunes, plus tambourines for everyone, inspire a limbo dance and a rhythmic promenade around a bank of musical chairs. The rowdy situation finally calms when a pantalooned pirate lass, sitting cross-legged on the breezy deck, tells tales of high-seas adventure, pirate cunning, and ghostly mystery.