By the time you read this, I’ll have been asked; “How do I get to be a Pirate?” somewhere in the neighborhood of a million times.
The answer is, I don’t know. There is no one path to the brotherhood. When the Seafair Pirates are out on a “raid” everyone thinks that it looks like fun. Everyone wants to be a pirate; “This looks like a great job, what’s it pay?” They ask. Sorry, but in effect, you must pay for the privilege of being a Pirate. Dues, expenses, lost work time, and time away from your family. It mounts up pretty fast. Those of us lucky enough to be Seafair Pirates do what we do for the sheer joy of it, and because we can no longer conceive of a time when we’ll ever stop being Pirates.
When asked, “How do I get to be a Pirate?” I generally brush off the idle curious with; “You’ve got to run away to sea by the age of twelve.” or some other flip remark. But persistence pays. Most of the crew will tell you that they pestered someone into bringing them into the club. This is because we all know how hard it is to support being a Pirate. An honest Member will do his very best to try and talk you out of joining. First thing you’re told; “This is the hardest club in the world to get into and the easiest club in the world to be thrown out of.” If this doesn’t make you stop to think, I follow with a question of my own; “Can you afford to give every other Tuesday evening and almost every weekend for a year to the Pirates?” If after that sinks in you’re still interested then you’re either; foolish, or Candidate material, and you just might get a Member to agree to talk with you about it.
As a prospective Pirate you will find that to achieve membership you must serve at least one full calendar year as a Candidate, essentially an apprentice pirate. During your Candidacy your job is, by means of your conduct, deportment and appearance, both in and out of costume, to demonstrate your fitness to be a Seafair Pirate. Candidates are expected to be present at every single function of the Seafair Pirates and their governing body the Ale & Quail Society. This is where the “every other Tuesday evening and close to every weekend for a year” bit comes in. No excuse for absence will be good enough. This is meant to demonstrate to the Membership that you can afford the time to “play pirate.” You will be informed of your many other obligations ranging from finding a good tailor and boot maker for your costumes, to swabbing the decks of our flagship the mighty “Moby Duck.”
If, in the face of overwhelming responsibilities and general personal abuse, your enthusiasm continues unabated, you must then convince the Member sitting across the table from you to be your sponsor. If he agrees he will be responsible for your actions as a Candidate. He will be your guide through your first year with the Pirates.
Having got a sponsor, you must now convince about forty other utter skeptics, [who can at any time, for any reason, vote to terminate you] that the Seattle Seafair Pirates can use you, and that if allowed to become a Seafair Pirate you won’t wreck civilization.
So, now you’re a Candidate. You are looking down the road at a long hard year ahead of you. (If you don’t feel like quitting at least twice during your candidacy we’re not doing it right!) IF you’ve got what it takes, you might just make it to the end, and that last all important night of your Membership vote, where you either wash out or become a Pirate. What comes in-between is often silly or maddening, and sometimes both. But take it from me, it’s all worth it.
If you’re really serious about becoming a Seafair Pirate, the surest way is to contact a Member while were out on an operation. (We’ll be the one’s dressed as pirates!) If you’re too shy for that, you can fill out the online application.
GOOD LUCK TO YA MATE!