Since dad retired, my folks have traveled a lot. For their fiftieth wedding anniversary, my bro Joey and I wanted to do something unique for them, but since they've been just about everywhere and done just about everything, coming up with something new was a challenge.
One Saturday, I read an article in the newspaper about a pair of tall ships that had mock battles every weekend at the harbor. That started me thinking--gold is the symbol for the fiftieth anniversary and then, it occurred to me to combine the two--ships and gold and throw a Pirate Ship anniversary party. It was brilliant!
The first thing I did was call up the company that organized the dinner cruise and mock battle. I spoke the owner of one of the boats and he loved the idea. Both boats were reserved for our private party and all I had to do was invite enough guests to fill them up. I called all Mom and Dad's friends and relatives, and inviting them to come celebrate David and Nancy's fiftieth anniversary with a dinner cruise on a tall ship. Everyone loved the idea and everyone was happy to pay a share of the cost. I told everyone to dress in pirate's costume and after dinner there would be a mock battle. Lastly I told the guests since the party was a surprise, no one was to say a word to my parents about it.
I picked up my mom and dad at noon telling them I wanted to take them to a great restaurant on the water. They were really surprised when we pulled into the marina and I gave them their pirate costumes. Everyone spent the early part of the day touring the two tall ships with the rest of the public, but at two the guests chose either the "Sea Stallion" or the "Maid of Gold" as their pirate ship. Joey and I had made foam weapons and brought them in a cardboard box for any one who wanted one. Joey and I insisted mom and dad had to be on separate ships. When they asked why we handed them each a small wooden chest. Inside were chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. I explained about the mock battle and it was their job to keep their ships "gold" safe from the other ship.
The captain and guests were seated around the table in the captain’s quarters and passed each dish just like a family dinner. The cozy and informal atmosphere seemed like we were guests in a home rather than a ship. Bread, green salad, beef roast or Cornish game hens, potatoes, mixed vegetables were served. Dessert was apple or cherry pie a la mode.
After dinner we went back up on deck. It was about five o’ clock when our ship got under way. The ship used its motor until it was out of the marina then the crew unfurled the sails and turned off the motor. The other ship followed, not far behind. Once they were both in open water mom and dad would choose what maneuvers to make and when the cannons would be fired, but the crew would do all the work. Because the cannons only fired blanks it was hard to tell who was winning, but soon our ship stopped moving and dad's ship came along side. The crew tied the ships together and began to board. For safety no one was allowed to hit someone who had a foot on plank the between the ships or while they were walking across , but before or after they were fair game. Everyone had a great time, but dad's pirates were more organized and one group kept us busy while the others captured mom and ransomed her for the chest of chocolate gold coins. At the time I didn't know two of the guests had brought video cameras and did a good job of getting close enough to record the action, while staying out of the way. Mom and Dad received a copy and they duplicated it to send to all of the guests. It was hysterical! We were maniacs!
After the battle was over both crews and guests celebrated together. Plastic flute glasses were passed around and we all toasted the happy couple with Champagne. Everyone took lots of pictures of the ship, the crew and each other. The captain of the "Sea Stallion" took a family family picture of my parents, my brother Joey and me posing on the aft castle with the sunset behind us. It came out really great and mom and dad framed it. As the ships headed back to the marina we all stood around the railings looking at the scenery and talked about how much fun we had celebrating mom and dad's golden anniversary and making it such a memorable occasion.