Too much screen time lately? YouTube, TV, movies, or don’t say it, video games. All are perhaps redeemable pastimes if they endeavor to spawn ideas or inspire. But eventually, you have to get wet, or things become a little artificial and mundane.
Lately, I’m guilty of spending too much time watching educational pirate videos. I know, that’s odd on a couple of levels, including that the videos even exist. Now, I imagine myself sailing the Islands between 1650 and 1730 during the golden age of pirates. I’m an adept seaman; operating tall ships is my only skill, and tiresome low-level land jobs aren’t available or don’t appeal. Because it is peacetime, nations aren’t funding privateers to harass their enemies, and the navy isn’t hiring. Still, I’d like to continue cruising the islands. YouTube hasn’t been invented yet, so I can’t create a sailing channel to entice paying Patreons. So what do I do? One option is to cruise the islands until provisions get low and find a merchant ship willing to share. It is simple enough to raise a black flag, sometimes adorned with skull and crossbones, to alert passing vessels that I desire supplies. The black color of the flag indicates that I mean no harm to a cooperative crew that is willing to share. It’s understood that I get grumpy with selfish victims who don’t want to play. This ancient game, essentially a nautical version of trick or treat, is still enjoyed in some parts of the world. It is one option for me, an unemployed seafarer until the plundering gets boring, war breaks out, or I get caught and hung.
That is the inspiration, and I’m itching to get wet. I’ll modify the execution in these modern times to avoid being a total pirate copycat and to avoid the risk of hanging. Rather than having a kidnapped musician for entertainment, my vessel will be equipped with a blue tooth-enabled stereo. It will have twin auxiliary engines, air-conditioning, electric winches, refrigeration, electric freshwater heads. A happy, comfortable crew is much less likely to stage a mutiny. When provisions are low rather than hoist a Jolly Rogers, I’ll just sail to port and raise the credit card from my wallet at the grocery or restaurant.
Notice that Mr. Chesney has a black flag, not a red one. He means no harm to a cooperative crew.