Real Pirates, is a one-of-a-kind exhibition that features more than 150 authentic items recovered from the Whydah – real treasure last touched by real pirates. Ranging from canons and coins and the replica of the Ship’s massive bell to personal items that the pirates wore, visitors are given an unprecedented glimpse into unique economic, political and social circumstances of the early 18th-century.
Real Pirates tells the compelling story of the Whydah, the first authenticated pirate shipwreck in U.S. waters, and the stories of the diverse people whose lives converged on the vessel. Sunk in a fierce storm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in April 1717, the Whydah was located in 1984 and is still actively excavated today.
The three-masted, 300-ton Whydah was built as a slave ship in London in 1715 and embodied the most advanced ocean-going technology of her day. She was easy to maneuver, unusually fast and, to protect her cargo, heavily armed and ready for battle. She was built to transport human captives from the West Coast of Africa to the Caribbean – but only made one such voyage before being captured by pirates in February, 1717. Soon after the ship’s slaves were sold in the Caribbean, the Whydah was captured near the Bahamas by Bellamy. His crew quickly hoisted the Jolly Roger, signaling to others that the slave ship was now a pirate ship.