The Golden Age Of Piracy
St. Augustine was the final stopping point for most Spanish treasure ships that cruised the Mediterranean in the 1500s. Most of these fleets stopped at St. Augustine in Florida before proceeding back to Spain. This made the coastal town of Florida a point of attraction for sailors, voyagers and inevitably pirates.
As marauding raiders, these pirates would wait for a Spanish ship full of treasures and goodies to experience some sailing mishaps like storms before they would descend on the boat. And when they failed to loot enough treasures, the pirates would raid nearby towns like St Augustine, looking for booty.
The major Pirate attack took place in June 1586 under the infamous English pirate Sir Francis Drake during his return from the attack on Cartagena. With a fleet of 23 ships and over 2,000 pirates, they intercepted a light burning in the night as they sailed along the coast of Florida.
They would later follow the light, which was a Spanish lighthouse that led them to St Augustine harbor. Overpowered, the Spanish defenders and the town's dwellers fled, and Sir Francis Drake raided the city and razed it to the ground. This devastating occurrence is commemorated each year in St. Augustine in June.
The second most memorable pirate attack on St. Augustine occurred about a century later in 1688 under renowned Jamaican pirate Robert Searles, who sailed a Spanish ship to St. Augustine after hijacking it. Upon docking, they went on a killing and plundering mission, totally overpowering the city.
Yet, the most brutal and devastating thing about this unfortunate experience was the killing of a five-year-old girl at the hand of Searles himself. Legend has it that this gruesome murder was the cause of Searles downfall as he hallucinated about the child until he became insane and killed himself. The great Searles raid is also commemorated every March in St. Augustine.
Piracy Is The Hallmark Of St. Augustine, FL
Today, there are many events and tourist attractions that depict the piracy that plagued St. Augustine. One such notable attraction site is the St. Augustine Pirate Museum which is home to the world's largest piracy and treasure artifacts. The Pirate Museum was established on January 5, 2005, by pirate artifact collector Pat Croce.
Fascinated by the famous legend of piracy and the treasure hunt that are the hallmarks of the coastal city of St. Augustine, Florida's St Augustine Pirate Museum founder and owner Pat Croce couldn't get enough of the tales of plunder by Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles.
Pat began collecting authentic pirate artifacts as a child then traveled the world to gather his collections which include some of the oldest collections that date back to over 300 years. He first opened Key West’s Pirate Soul Museum before unveiling The Pirate and Treasure Museum in 2005 in the heart of St Augustine, FL.
Tourists who visit the museum get a chance to remember the Golden Age of Piracy in one of the most epic and fantastic experiences that depict the harrowing escapades of medieval piracy. The museum features a treasure hunt for children, several interactive exhibits that take you back in time to the swashbuckling adventures and raiding pirates.
At the museum, you get a chance to experience the life of a pirate as it were in Port Royal, Jamaica, where pirates were influential and respected figures in society. The museum features a unique collection of pirate artifacts integrated with modern technology to help you re-live the era of piracy and the lives of the most notorious pirates who invaded St. Augustine in the 1680s.
You also get to take a tour aboard the Black Raven Pirate Ship, a replica of the 127 passenger capacity Spanish Galleon, the Black Raven Pirate Ship. Aboard the three-hour tour, there are pirate-themed shows followed by drinks with a Real Pirate as they take you through the historical tales of piracy.
Do You Want To Go Back In Time To Meet Robert Searles And His Band Of Raiders?
The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is home to the world's most extensive collection of genuine pirate artifacts. It's an entertaining yet educational museum that gives you a chance to go back over 300 years in time and visit the pirate city of Port Royal in Jamaica and witness the Golden Age of Piracy.
The most outstanding feature at the museum is the extraordinary Discovery Drawers, a chest of drawers featuring a skull and crossbones. If you are like Pat Croce, you might find the horrors and adventures of piracy a fascinating and entertaining experience.
Perhaps you would like to travel back in time through audio-animatronics and experience the 300 years of pirating history? If so, prepare to visit and explore Florida's St Augustine Pirate Museum. Who knows, it could be your own personal treasure hunt.