P-Town Activities: Whydah Pirate Museum

Many of our past blogs have highlighted circuit and lifestyle activities, for which Provincetown is proud to be known.  But we’d like to offer some great interest options for visitors of EVERY orientation.  To this end, The Distinctive Inns of Provincetown will spend a few weeks highlighting the great natural, historic, and offbeat places of interest here at the tip of Massachusetts!

Throughout the years, America’s infatuation with pirates has been reflected in the movies we produce, the costumes we wear at Halloween, and the tours that can be found in coastal cities all across the country.  Is it the romance of life on the high seas?  Is it the infatuation with the accepted criminal life of the time?  No matter the reason, Pirates are as much of a fact of our present, as they are a fact of our past.  And you can learn all about them right here on the tip of Cape Cod at The Whydah Pirate Museum!

They heyday of historic piracy was in the early 18th century: from 1700 to 1730 to be exact (although the buccaneers were famous during the mid-to-late 1600’s).  These raiders would, of course, sail the seas, trying to take over other vessels and the goods they carried.  But while they thrived on obtaining from others, there was a system of checks and balances that could be used as a guideline even today.  Captains and quartermasters were elected by their crew.  The Captain was known as a fierce fighter who led in battle, while the Quartermaster was usually the one in charge when not in battle, and could even veto a Captain’s orders!  Pirates all shared in any bounty seized, and pirates wounded in battle were compensated accordingly.

While the romantic notion is that pirates buried their treasures, this seldom happened – pirate treasure was usually carried with them.  Any items of monetary value were split between the crew at the end of a voyage, and other items of value (medicine, ship’s equipment, and food) were used on the ship itself.  Therefore, the real pirate treasure would be found ON a pirate ship rather than buried in some secret location.

Of course this means that when a pirate ship sank, the real treasure lay at the bottom of the ocean!

The Whydah Pirate Museum, located on MacMillan Pier here in Provincetown, tells of such a shipwreck.  Famed pirate Sam Bellamy was the commander of the Whydah, and the year 1717 brought a storm that wrecked this ship off the coast of Cape Cod.  In fact, the Whydah is the only pirate shipwreck that has been found to this date.  And when it was found, oh the treasures that were discovered!  Cannons, coins, jewelry, an abundance of artifacts… over 200,000 artifacts in total are still being pulled from the ocean floor near Wellfleet, MA. And those expeditions to recover the remaining artifacts? Their activities are headquartered right here at the Whydah Pirate Museum!

Witness the treasure and artifacts, see x-rays of encrusted items, and learn more of the story of a pirate’s life here at the Whydah Pirate Museum.  Voted as “Best Museum” by Cape Code Life readers since the year 2000, this historical attraction is one you should not miss when staying at any of our member inns!

Admission is $10 for adults, with discounts for children and seniors.  The Museum is open seasonally from April 15 through October 31 of each year.  Hours can be found at their website during the season itself, or just ask your bed and breakfast host!

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