Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pirates of the Turks & Caicos: Part 1

I've been in the Turks & Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory, where I gave a talk on the history of the golden age pirates at this private resort island.

As told in my book, The Republic of Pirates, Blackbeard, Sam Bellamy, Calico Jack Rackham, and other members of the infamous Nassau-based pirate gang operated throughout the Bahamian archipelago, including the Turks & Caicos (where they enjoyed ambushing Bermuda vessels that came here to rake salt.) I also had an opportunity to compare colonial history notes with my fellow presenters: antique book and map dealer Graham Arader (who let me peruse an original copy of a famous 1655 account of the West Indies) and the erstwhile cocktail aficionado Patrick Costigan (who introduced me to The Hemingway.)

The Turks & Caicos Sporting Club, located on Big Ambergris Cay, is an unusual place: an 1100-acre private island resort with its own international airport, airline, utility company, and desalinization plant. Building lots go for $600,000 to $6 million. It's a world apart from Providenciales, the hub of the Turks & Caicos, where a corruption inquiry has triggered the resignation of the prime minister and prompted the United Kingdom to prepare to suspend the territory's constitution. (More on that later.)

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