06/30/06 — This pirate helped reel in Tall Ships

View Archive

This pirate helped reel in Tall Ships

By Gene Price
Published in News on June 30, 2006 1:49 PM

BEAUFORT -- The Tall Ships are coming -- and the credit belongs in part to a little Michigan farm boy who never outgrew his fantasy to be a pirate.

Today he is known to seafaring people along the North and South Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea as Capt. Horatio Sinbad. With a crew of four Carteret County youngsters, he sailed his Meka II to victory in the Americas Sail Class B event in Montego Bay in 2002.

As the victor, he earned the right to designate the location of the 2006 Pepsi Americas race. He selected his home port of Beaufort.

The young crew members on that trip were Taylor Fondren, Rebecca Cole, Marty Brown and Fenner Hoell. Their ages ranged from 12 to 14. And they will be serving as crew members when the Meka II participates in the race next week.

Capt. Sinbad has been a familiar figure in Beaufort and on the central coast waters for some 40 years. He built the 54-foot, two-masted Meka II here.

To the thrill of young visitors, he and his vessel routinely "attack" tour boats like the Beaufort-based Mystery, firing cannon blasts as the boats approach.

Sinbad says he also has "challenged" two American military ships and one foreign vessel -- the latter of which purchased its "release" by transferring several cases of beer to the "pirate ship."

But who is this big, swashbuckling guy who dresses like an authentic pirate and is subject to greet visitors with a menacing -- but good-natured "aaargh!"

He is the full-grown version of a little boy who decided at the age of 8 -- after seeing Walt Disney's Treasure Island -- that he was going to be a pirate.

He ran away from home at 16 and made his way to the West Indies There he managed to sign aboard a French Canadian charter yacht. He returned home long enough to finish high school. But the sea was in his blood.

His first Meka -- a 22-footer -- was lost in a storm off the coast of Virginia. Sinbad was rescued by the Coast Guard after several hours in the water. He lived for a time in Florida but was drawn in the end to Beaufort.

It was here that he built the Meca II, a replica of a 17th century brigantine favored by pirates of that period. And he has lived aboard her -- and sailed her to distant ports in North and Central and South America -- ever since.

Horatio Sinbad? That is his real name now -- legally changed to that 27 years ago.

And it fits perfectly the character he is today -- and has been since the age of 8.