Whydah Pirate Museum

Anchor.

Whydah Pirate Museum

By Patricia L. O’Connell

Whydah Pirate Museum Cape Cod
Ship model at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, USA.

The Whydah Pirate Museum is located in West Yarmouth, on Cape Cod. The museum is about an hour’s drive from the Palmer House Inn and is a new, fully interactive Pirate Museum filled with real pirate artifacts and treasure from the pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy’s flagship the Whydah.

Originally constructed as a fully rigged galley passenger, cargo and slave ship, this three-masted 110 foot long ship, embarked on her maiden voyage out of the port of London, England in 1716. She sailed what was called the triangle trade route. When she left London on the first leg of the triangle, she was carrying a variety of goods from different business to exchange for delivery of trade and slaves in Western Africa, in what is known today as Senegal, Nigeria and Benin. She left west Africa on the second leg of her voyage with about 500 captives, gold, including jewelry and ivory. She traveled to the Caribbean where the captives were sold or traded for precious metals, sugar, indigo, rum, logwood, pimento, ginger and medical ingredients. The third leg of the voyage was to deliver the goods to London. The Whydah, however, would never return to England for a second voyage.

The ship was captured by pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy of the pirate ship Sultana in February of 1717. After taking over the ship, Bellamy and his crew ripped through the Caribbean, pirating over 50 ships and loading the Whydah with stolen treasures. Bellamy and the Whydah then set sail for New England with other ships that he had captured.

Whydah Pirate Museum exhibit
Pirate exhibit.

Samuel Bellamy was known as “Black Sam” because of his black hair. He was born in England but moved to New England where he met and fell in love with Maria Hallett of Eastham, MA on Cape Cod. Her father refused her hand in marriage because Bellamy was poor. He decided to turn to piracy to remedy that situation.

During the voyage north the Whydah was heavily damaged in a storm. The damage included a broken mast. The crew was able to do makeshift repairs that enabled them to each Nantucket Sound. It is believed that the repairs were completed in either Block Island or Rhode Island. Two months later Bellamy and his fleet headed north toward the elbow of Cape Cod. On April 25, 1717 they captured the ship “Mary Anne”. She was carrying a cargo of Madeira wine.

Just after midnight on April 26, 1717 the two ships were struck by hurricane force winds and 30 to 40 foot waves. She ran bow first into a sandbar 500 feet from what is now known as Marconi Beach in the town of Wellfleet. She then capsized sending 4.5 short tons of gold and silver, 60 cannons and 144 people to the ocean’s floor. The Whydah’s contents was spread over  a 4 square mile area. All but 2 sailors were killed. The Mary Anne also sank in that storm.

After the wreck was reported to the governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Shute, he sent Captain Cypian Southack, a local salvager and cartographer, to recover the bullion. However, when Southack arrived on the scene in May, all that he found was that some of the ship was still visible below the water’s surface. At that time Southack created a map of the site.

The wreckage and treasure would remain buried for close to 300 years. Fascinated by the stories of the Whydah since childhood, Provincetown native Barry Clifford decided to look for the ship’s wreckage. He began his search in 1983. In 1984, Clifford, with the help of Southack’s map, began to find the first artifacts from the Whydah just 500 feet offshore. It wasn’t until 1985, however, that authentication of the treasure would be proven, when Clifford unearthed the Whydah’s bell that is inscribed with the name. Also, in 2013 a small placard was found that had the ship’s name and was inscribed with her maiden voyage date.

The Whydah Pirate Museum features replicas of the ship. All of the artifacts discovered so far are on display for viewing. Visitors are also able to learn about the excavation process and the technology used to restore and preserve, these one of a kind, treasures. Interactive and wonderfully unique, the Whydah Pirate Museum is a must visit.

Anchor.
Ship’s anchor.

Whydah Pirate Museum
674 MA-28
West Yarmouth, MA
508.534.9571
www.discoverpirates.com

More Museums on Cape Cod

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of visiting museums on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Cape Cod’s Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse

Hyannis Harbor Light

By Mary Moran

Hyannis, a village in the town of Barnstable and the highest populated area on Cape Cod, was once a busy and successful port for both fishing and trade in the 1800’s. It is located in what is called the Mid Cape area. With maritime traffic increasing, the need for a navigational aid in the harbor became apparent. The Point Gammon Light, built at the southern approach to the harbor in 1816, guided vessels to the harbor, but another light was needed for the dangerous areas inside the harbor itself. Daniel Snow Hallett, a Barnstable local, did his best to provide his own light for the waters by hanging a lamp in the window of a beach shack that he built at his own expense. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t very effective and in 1848, $2,000 was appropriated by Congress to erect a proper lighthouse in the South Hyannis Harbor area.

In May of the following year, the freshly built Hyannis Harbor Light, a 19-foot conical brick tower, was put into service. The structure consisted of five oil lamps and parabolic reflectors that provided a fixed white light 43 feet above the water level. The lighthouse also produced a red sector to warn passing vessels away from the dangerous Southwest Shoal.The Hyannis Harbor Light property expanded in 1851 when another $800 was given in order to build a house for a lighthouse keeper. The wooden structure was built beside the lighthouse, connected by a convenient covered walkway. The position of keeper was given to John H. Lothrop in 1871 but was soon taken over by his son, Alonzo, in 1878 after Lothrop’s death only eight years into his duty. Alonzo Lothrop remained at his inherited post for a little over 20 years. He resigned from the position in 1899. After his resignation, the keeper position was given to a man named Captain John Peak. Peak had come from a long legacy of lighthouse keepers and was known for letting the local children help with his lighthouse chores and even giving private sailing lessons to the children who were able to swim. Almost fifteen years after Peak’s retirement in 1915, the Hyannis Harbor Light was discontinued and its lantern was removed from the structure. The lighthouse, keeper’s house, and property were sold at auction to A.W. Fuller for $7,007. Fuller then sold the property and throughout the years the old lighthouse was passed through the hands of many owners. Current owners, Janice Hyland and Alan Granby, built their own unique top to the lighthouse tower. Although it is anything but traditional, it is reportedly an excellent spot to catch a glorious Cape Cod sunset. In addition to the original lighthouse, the keeper’s house (1849) and oil house (1902) both remain standing to this day, and although the property is privately owned, one can get a great view of the old tower by taking a stroll east on Keyes Beach in Hyannis.

Hyannis is just twenty miles from the Palmer House Inn. While in Hyannis one can visit the JFK Cape Cod Museum that commemorates the president’s life on the Cape. There are also harbor cruises where visitors view the harbor and the Kennedy compound buildings and grounds.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of sightseeing on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Cape Cod’s Bass River Light

Bass River Light

By Mary Moran

Bass River light, also known as the West Dennis Light, is located on the eastern side of Bass River in the Cape Cod town of Dennis. Dennis sits next to the waters of Nantucket Sound. Dennis became a prosperous fishing town in the 19th century. At that time there was a salt works right in the center of town and a variety of facilities for the construction of small boats. Before the lighthouse was built, a local man by the name of Warren Crowell created his own “lighthouse” to help captains navigate the area. He did this by placing a lamp in the attic window of his home. Local captains would donate money to Crowell on a monthly basis to help provide funds for the cost of the oil that kept the lamp burning. Eventually, it was decided that the small lamp in Crowell’s attic was no longer sufficient to guide vessels safely, because the  traffic in the local waters had begun to increase significantly. In 1854, the land was purchased for a real lighthouse and on April 30, 1855, the Bass River Light went into service. The Bass River Light’s lantern was placed on top of the newly built, two-story keeper’s house. The structure was 44 feet tall and displayed a continuous white light out of its fifth-order Fresnel lens. The person assigned to the duty of being the first lighthouse keeper was none other than Warren Crowell himself. He remained at his post until 1863, when he went to fight in the Civil War. In combat, he was taken prisoner in Virginia after being injured and finally returned to the lighthouse in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, need for the lighthouse decreased after both the opening of the Cape Cod Canal and the placement of an automatic light on the west side of Bass River. The Bass River light was ultimately deemed unnecessary and was put out on June 15, 1914. After the light was dark at Bass River, the property was sold at auction to a Mr. Harry K. Noyes. Noyes used the keeper’s house as a seasonal home and expanded the property greatly. Then, in 1938, the property was purchased by State Senator Everett Stone and his wife Gladys. The couple decided to turn the home into an Inn where they could entertain friends, family and vacationers alike. Guests could rent a room for a night or two. One night’s stay at the Inn, including all meals, was only $5 dollars! As the years went on, the business continued to grow. To this day the Stone family owns the Bass River Lighthouse and its property. It is now a fully functioning Inn and restaurant. It is open seasonally from spring to fall with a large summer staff of around ninety employees. The Stone family also took the initiative to relight the famous lighthouse in 1989. Each year, from August 7th – National Lighthouse Day, you can still see the flashing white light shining from the 300 mm optic lens in the Bass River tower. It serves as a seasonal aid to navigation. This charming lighthouse and restaurant is about an hour’s drive east of  the Palmer House Inn.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.