Do You Want to be a Pirate?

Do You Want to be a Pirate?The Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. is a lively crew with a very active presence and has received proclamations from both Nassau County, Florida, and the City of Fernandina Beach announcing them “Goodwill Ambassadors to the World.” Founded in October of 1973, to promote the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, the Fernandina Pirates entertain crowds at a variety of parades and events in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

Although their primary focus is on promoting the annual Shrimp Festival, “We are also interested in the community at large, and try to do our part to better life in our charming little seaport town.” Said Club Captain (President) Lawrence Mackie. “Fernandina offers a slower paced, tourist driven community that was all about Pirates long before being a Pirate was cool.”

Behind the scruffy beards, the plumed hats, leather boots, and tight corsets, the Pirates are active members of the community with real jobs like realtors, nurses, business owners and retirees. These volunteers participate in a number of community and charitable events such as monthly Pirate Blood Drives, Katie’s Ride For Life, Joy to the Children, Relay For Life, Downtown Pajama Party, Fernandina Beach High School’s Homecoming Parade and football games, NAMI Walk, and more. The Pirates even offer their own scholarship to a high school seniors entering college, and a military scholarship, too.

With Shrimp Festival on the horizon, this is when the Pirates are often asked, “How do I become a Pirate?” First, you start off as a Swabbie. Being a Swabbie lets you participating in parades, working booth shifts at the Shrimp Festival or other events, help out at “work parties” where we may paint road worthy pirate ships, or simply decorate hats. This is an opportunity to learn how to walk, talk, act, and dress like a Fernandina Pirate. After attending three meetings, three in-town functions, and three out-of-town functions, we hope you have made new friends among the existing membership. You are then sponsored by a Pirate in good standing and nominated for Pirate membership, with full voting and black powder privileges.

If you are interested in becoming a Pirate, the Fernandina Pirates Club normally meets on the third Tuesday of each month, but in preparation of the Festival, they will be meeting on April 12th and 19th, at 7:00 p.m., upstairs, at 115 South Second Street, in historic, Fernandina Beach. Their April 26th meeting will be held at the waterfront.

The Fernandina Pirates Club is a non-profit corporation, with a board of officers, membership requirements and safety rules, too, but they are always looking for a few good ship mates! If you would like to learn more about the Pirates, please join them at an upcoming meeting, “like” them on facebook, visit, or call Judie Mackie at (904) 583-0659.

Fernandina Pirates or Fernandina Vampires?

Fernandina Pirates or Fernandina Vampires?With the help of new friends and loyal blood donors, the Fernandina Pirates Club spilled more blood than ever, thanks to The Loop Pizza Grill, and The Journey Church for sharing their parking lot and permitting these Skallywags to collect a record breaking 101 units of blood in January!

We may to start calling the Fernandina Pirates, The Fernandina Vampires, because in 2010 and 2011, this group of volunteers organized enough blood donations to place second in our region; the Jacksonville Jaguars placed first. (We are waiting to hear the results for 2012.)

The Pirates will continue their quest to replace the Jacksonville Jaguars as the number one organization in the region to collect donations of blood for the Georgia Florida Blood Alliance, and in 2013, Pirates, Pints and Prizes will be held bi-monthly on Amelia Island and at Pecan Park Flea Market in Jacksonville, Florida.

This Saturday, February 23, 2013, the Pirates Club’s blood drive will be held inside the banquet hall at the American Legion Post #54, located at 626 S. 3rd Street (at the corner of Gum and 3rd Streets). These Blood Drives have become so popular in our community they have outgrown the ability to accommodate donors on the mobile buses!

This blood drive will be from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm, and the American Legion Squadron 54 and the Men’s Auxiliary Post 4351 will be providing free lunch and beverages for those that donate. Post 54 members encourage you to tour their facility while you are there and inquire about membership requirements or potential rentals of their banquet hall for special occasions.

Also on February 23 the Bloodmobile will be located at the farmers’ market on N. 7th Street, in historic, downtown Fernandina Beach, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Pirates will be about entertaining children and adults alike, and pets are welcome so bring your Scurvey Dogs and celebrate International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

The Blood Alliance is a non-profit community blood bank designed to ensure our community has an ample supply of blood, sufficient to meet the needs of local patients. To fulfill these needs, there are thirteen community donor centers, and twelve mobile units designed to support blood drives at businesses, churches, schools, civic groups, military, and community locations. They are the only provider of transfusable blood products to all local hospitals in Northeast Florida, and portions of Georgia and South Carolina.

For more information about Pirates, Pints and Prizes, please visit

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Fernandina Pirates Club Out to Draw Blood

Fernandina Pirates Club Out to Draw BloodAmelia Island, FL – The Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. members are out for blood, literally. You may remember the Fernandina Pirates finished 2nd to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the district last year for the number of useable pints donated to the Georgia Florida Blood Alliance, and this year these Pirates want to win!

Saturday, August 25, 2012, the Pirates will have buses from the Blood Alliance in the Publix parking lot on Sadler Road, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Wicked Wanda, the club’s Blood Drive Chairperson has pillaged and plundered to find some of the hottest tickets in town.

All donors will be entered into a raffle drawing for the following admission tickets:

    -Jaguars vs. the Atlanta Falcons pre-season tickets for August 30, 2012
    -Amelia Island Blues Festival tickets
    -Amelia Island Museum of History tickets
    -Amelia River Cruises tickets
    -Island Falls tickets
    -Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens tickets

The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 54 and the VFW Post 4351 Men’s Auxiliary will be providing melon slices, hot dogs and drinks for the first 100 donors.

Walk ups are always welcome, but appointments can be made at until the 24th of August.

Having received a Resolution from the Board of County Commissioners of Nassau County as well as a Proclamation from the City of Fernandina Beach Commissioners recognizing the club for their ongoing community service and charitable work, members of the Pirates Club truly are our community’s “Goodwill Ambassadors to the World” as designated by both local government entities.

For more information please visit

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A Love Worth Pirating For

2012 Fernandina Pirate Club scholarshipThe Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. offers a scholarship to a graduating Nassau County high school senior and the 2012 winning essay was A Love Worth Pirating For, by Emily Eberwine. Nine entries were received competing for the $1,500.00 scholarship for a college bound senior. No entries were received for the $500.00 prize the club offers to a military bound senior each year.

Pictured left to right: Public Relations Chair for the Fernandina Pirates Club, Judie Mackie; scholarship winner Emily Eberwine; and Ship’s Scribe (Secretary) Cyndi Jones of the Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc.

The club only requires the essay be written about pirates, past, present or future. The scholarship was awarded during the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

Here is the winning entry:

It was a balmy summer day in Boston, Massachusetts. Cattle laid to rest in the fields, and dragonflies hovered above the ground as if held there by invisible strings. Men of importance with places to go and people to see trudged across town to their destinations. All seemed to move at a languid pace like molasses through a straw. Settled at the edge of the dock were two lovers, confiding solely in the other the secrets of their innermost being. For he must set sail come daybreak, and she whole-heartedly desired to make the voyage as well.

The year was 1775, and ideas of revolution began to circulate throughout the American colonies. Britain had been imposing new taxes on the colonies for years, in order to gain back the money they had lost in paying for the Seven Years War. The colonists found themselves paying preposterously high taxes on goods such as paper, sugar, glass, and legal documents – items that had previously been easily attainable. The Boston Tea Party had just occurred, rebelling against the absurdly risen taxes on tea, which sparked a widespread interest in adventure and acts of valor. As the colonial Continental Navy became increasingly active in fending off the British merchant ships, the need arose for backup forces. Privateers, or warships that seized enemy commercial ships, were instrumental to this effort by disrupting enemy trade. Throughout the course of the war, over 800 vessels were commissioned as privateers, gaining nearly 18 million dollars through plundering, to put towards the growing American nation.

As the two dipped their toes into the murky water, William verbally illustrated his eventful and exciting experiences of life at sea for Fanny, his loving companion. She was greatly intrigued by his tales of adventure and exploration in foreign lands, and fervently wished she could join him on an ocean voyage some day. Fanny Campbell was unlike most girls at the time. Rather than sewing and mending while being cooped up inside, she was captivated with nature and the outdoors. To her, a day was wasted if not spent while riding horses, sailing, or hunting panthers in the woods. But despite Fanny’s seemingly masculine interests, William loved her nonetheless.

By 1777, William had been away at sea for two years. But while he was gone, another suitor came calling on Fanny, Captain Robert Burnet of the British Navy. Though she could have said yes at any time to the Captain and lived a very comfortable and plush lifestyle, Fanny loyally continued to wait for William’s return. And William, far at sea, had determined he would marry Fanny upon his return home. On a particularly stifling day out at sea, William leaned on the railing of the ship and dreamed about his detached love. As he strained his eyes for distant shores, what had first appeared as a mere sailboat on the horizon grew into an immense, formidable pirate ship, complete with a snow-white skull and crossbones insignia emblazoned on a death-black background. As the vessel came nearer, the once hardly audible sound of firing cannons grew to a deafening height. William’s ship fought back valiantly, but the crew’s attempts were all for naught, as the sea ruffians continued to sail up alongside the ship. Within moments, the American sailors were overpowered by the sunburned, bearded, motley crew of pirates. Both crews engaged in a rowdy skirmish, in which the captains of both ships perished. William, however, survived the takeover, and was forced onto the pirate vessel where he assumed a position of leadership among the crew.

One night while on the graveyard watch, William and two friends, Jack and Henry, decided to make a run for it. They quickly and silently lowered a smaller boat into the water, and rowed desperately until they were out of reach of the pirates. The dirty, exhausted men finally reached Havana, Cuba – only to be captured by Cuban officials and thrown into jail on suspicion of being pirates (since they had no proof of being forced aboard the pirate ship). Week after agonizing week passed for both William, and Fanny- who had received no word from William in quite some time. Weeks turned into months, and two more years later, William’s friend Jack was able to escape from the prison, and make his way back to Boston.

Woken by a hard, deliberate knock at the door, Fanny rushed to open it and reveal her visitor. Jack was standing on the doorstep, and handed Fanny a crumpled, dirty letter addressed to her from William. Its contents described the unfortunate events of his voyage. Her eyes hungrily ate up every single word on the page as she half believed what the letter was telling her to be true. Following a minute of silent thought, Fanny asked Jack to be ready at a moment’s notice for a daring adventure. Though he was confused by her secretive manner, he agreed. One week later, Jack found himself being led to a large vessel anchored in Boston Harbor that was to sail to England by way of Cuba. Fanny’s question to him grew increasingly illuminated by the evidence of the scene. Fanny Campbell had devised a plan to disguise herself as the male captain of an American merchant ship, and sail to Cuba to bravely rescue her separated love.

Under the black cover of darkness, Fanny’s ship sailed into the bay at Havana. She selected eight of her most loyal crew members, including Jack, and stealthily led them to the cell in which William was held captive for so long. The keys were obtained from a guard that they silently put to death, the enclosed men were released, and the entire party escaped the settlement as rapidly as the wind. Once all were safely aboard the ship, Fanny revealed her identity to William (as she was still disguised as the male captain). As the ship was sailed towards home, word was gathered that the Revolutionary war had begun in the American colonies. Because Fanny did not wish for their crew to be perceived as pirates, she encouraged the men to turn from their pirating ways and become privateers. Following that day, Fanny Campbell’s ship worked for the American Government- capturing enemy ships and turning the plundered booty over to the Continental Congress.

Upon returning to Boston, Fanny Campbell and William Lovell finally married. William began his career as a privateer throughout the remainder of the war, but Fanny never again went to sea. She had had the taste of adventure she always yearned for. During the Revolutionary War period, it was unheard of for a woman to sail; much less, become a pirate. Fanny Campbell risked reputational ruin for her noble deed. But because she did, she was reunited with her long lost love. She is especially admirable to me, as I can only hope I would someday encounter the love she had found. Who today, even among the most daring of people, would willingly face uncharted and dangerous waters, and unruly and dastardly pirates simply to follow the one they love? This unique brand of devotion would certainly qualify an individual to go down in history. And Fanny Campbell certainly has- as the woman who turned pirate to rescue her loved one.

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Pirate Blood Drive at Central Park

Fernandina Pirates Club Blood Drive

Fernandina Pirates Club Blood Drive

The Fernandina Pirates Club will be hosting a blood drive August 21, 2010, in Central Park on Amelia Island, Florida. Come on out and donate blood. Do not worry if you have never donated before, when you arrive the Pirates will encourage you by shouting, “Give us a pint Matey, or we’ll spill a quart!”

The Pirates have been increasing their pint count continuously and provide the most memorable blood-letting opportunity you could ever experience.

The Sons of the American Legion will be cooking in the park as well, from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

The Sons of The American Legion was created in 1932 and is made up of boys and men of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the United States military and became eligible for membership in The American Legion. They place a high importance on preserving our American traditions and values, improving the quality of life for our nation’s children, caring for veterans and their families, and perhaps most importantly, teaching the fundamentals of good citizenship.

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