HISTORY OF THE POVERTY BAY PIRATES

How it all began

By Pirate Hans Versteege, N

It has been said that history is unforgiving, and in order to become a part of history, unforgivable deeds should be accomplished. The latter depends of course on ones point of view. It was then that on a blustery evening in March of the year 1961, ten men secretly met in the Barb Inn on the outskirts of Seattle. They were men of the sea, salty and impoverished. Their leader was a man called Ivan, a graying skipper with indomitable spirit. A common bond brought these men together: revolt against the tributes they had to render to the powers to the north and towards the south. During that evening the plot was born to declare independence of the powers and to form their own squadron. The next year their little band grew, but the Seattle and Tacoma squadrons considered them pirates...a name which the little band proudly adopted. Pretty soon they were known as the Poverty Bay Pirates all through the Northwest. A long struggle for official recognition developed.

May of 1963, the Seattle Squadron fleet sailed into Quartermaster Harbor and lay at anchor. Their crews were celebrating until the wee hours of the morning. This had not gone unnoticed to the lookout of the pirates. The pirates fleet was hastily assembled in Poverty Bay. Cannons were mounted on the foredeck of each vessel. Even the sailing vessels received armament. At the crack of dawn the motley fleet sailed for Quartermaster Harbor, and the historic battle of Quartermaster Harbor was on. The pirates caught the Seattle squadron by surprise and asleep. Their ships entered the anchorage and gave each squadron vessel a broadside. The pirates flotilla commander, Tony, had ordered to fire only black powder in order not to damage the squadrons boats. The Seattle crews were thus roughly awakened and by trying to pile out of their bunks with a start, many were incapacitated with a splitting headache caused by contact with the overhead deck timbers. The Seattle squadron surrendered and each member was fined five dollars to fill the coffers of the pirates.

Thus the pirate band had grown to a force to be reckoned with. Grudgingly their status quo was acknowledged. A charter was sent from the East to calm things down. However, the Seattle squadron was still rankled by their defeat at Quartermaster Harbor. On the day of the feast to celebrate the pirates independence, they posted a lookout on the Duwamish River. The whole day they watched the Pirate Ken working on his boat. His boat was a classic pirate ship, a 27 foot displacement hull, She was a converted open cockpit fishing boat with a steering station aft of the cabin and bait wells. Interestingly, there was some confusion in the ranks about which boat to watch. There was a former rum-running vessel named "Odalisque" stationed near pirates Ken's boat who some thought logically be his.

In the late afternoon, Pirate Ken, called it a day and left to pick up his wench to go to the feast. Promptly, the Seattle squadron moved a crane into position and hoisted Ken's boat on a flatbed trailer which had wheeled up. Electricity and telephone crews appeared out of nowhere, and the long trek to the outskirts of Seattle started with the crews removing the overhead wires. They arrived late that evening at the celebration. They parked the boat in the parking lot unnoticed, and later that night donated it to the Pirates as a Training Aid. While the pirates were caught short, the Seattle squadron piled it up and stole the ships bell from the celebration. Even the Pirates chest was stolen!

In the succeeding months, the Pirates struck back with devastating force. Promptly the Seattle Squadron Charter was stolen by the Pirates. While negotiations were underway for an exchange of bell for charter, Commander Ivan hitched a ride to the Vancouver (Canada) Change of Watch. He was careful to select the man to hitch the ride with. It was the Seattle culprit who had stolen the pirates chest. Knowing that the chest was in the trunk of the car, Ivan cunningly suggested a stop at a way station on their way to the border. While the culprit was secluded in the way station, Ivan opened the trunk and put a bottle of booze in the pirates chest. At the border, the culprit did not declare anything, but Ivan suggested to the custom inspector to take a look in the trunk of the vehicle. When the bottle was found, they clapped the culprit in jail and Ivan went on to the Vancouver party alone. On his way back the next day, he reluctantly explained the whole matter to the customs and got the culprit released from jail. The Seattle squadron had enough. They promptly returned the bell and chest, and ceased to be a power to be contended with.

However, to the South a new squadron, Willamette, appeared on the scene. To prevent a takeover, the Pirates promptly appropriated the Charter within an hour after presentation by the Eastern potentates. A relative calm period now developed for the Pirates. Their strength and knowledge of the northwest waters were well known and respected. For five years in a row they disagreed with the Government charts. They displayed their knowledge by contributing thousands of corrections.But during this time, discipline among the pirates stayed firm. One pirate, named George, in his zeal to acquire a bottle of spirits in a competition, went so far as to bribe the scribe and change the rules to his favor. His reward was the bottle of booze, however it was set upside down in an ice bucket filled with reinforced concrete.

In later years, the commander of the Seattle squadron wanted to cement relationships with the Pirates. He was so charming the Pirates decided to return to him the stolen paraphernalia of his past commanders office. The paraphernalia were baked into a huge cake and thus delivered to his home. Not knowing what it was all about, he donated the whole shebang to the Boy Scouts, his being on a diet. He is still muttering to himself while doing the rounds trying to locate the Scouts. In this period of relative calm, the Pirates decided to a limited disarmament. With the surplus on hand, they promised the newly formed Eugene Power Squadron all the help in their battles and provided them with a cannon at their charter party. In the meantime the Pirates teach classes, but that won't be remembered.

Poverty Bay Power Squadron obtained its charter in 1963. The name Poverty Bay was selected quite appropriately. The actual bay was named by a surveyor who had difficulty collecting his money from the local residents - most of them blew what little money they had on booze and women in Seattle.

The design of the Poverty Bay burgee resulted from a contest originated by Ken Lloyd who gave a bottle of Scotch to the winner. The contest was quite formal as the designs were submitted on the cocktail napkins of the Barb Inn. The contest lasted exactly ten minutes during one of the meetings.