British Virgin Islands
Many pirates were born out of the severely brutal conditions of the seafaring life. As early as 1293, European kings and queens lacked navies large enough to enforce their rule and gave ship captains letters of marque sanctioning them to capture ships and cargo from other countries. Typically, ten to fifteen percent of the prizes taken by the privateers were given to the crown, the balance was divided between the ship owner and the crew.
This simple arrangement shifted the financial burden of outfitting and manning ships from the crown to the privateers. Resources to protect merchant ships could now be used for exploration or other needs at home. By disrupting the trade of competing nations without committing any of the crown's assets to the task, privateering flourished.
Numerous naval heroes, including John Paul Jones, started their careers as merchant seamen and then turned privateer. Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe essentially as a privateer. And more than one privateer crew turned pirate after getting a letter of marque.
In the Caribbean, naval officers charged with protecting merchant shipments commonly took cargo aboard their own ships at inflated prices. The merchant's goods were delivered, the officers profited, and the pirates were left to attack shipments on other unprotected vessels.
Privateer commissions were also given to attack pirates, but these were ineffective in eradicating piracy in the Caribbean since there was little to gain by attacking pirate vessels that weren't carrying booty to be divided by the crew. By not attacking navy ships, the pirates and the navy coexisted on a mutually profitable ocean.
The privateers, pirates, and smugglers who inhabited these islands have left their mark from Thatch Island to Deadman's Chest, and windward up Sir Francis Drake Channel to Virgin Gorda.
Sopers Hole, on the west end of Tortola, was the largest pirate community in the British Virgin Islands. Out of sight from the port of Road Town, Sopers Hole offered the renegades a well-protected, deep-water refuge that could only be entered by sailing to windward in shifting light winds. The cotton and sugar cane plantations traded fruit, vegetables, and rum to the pirates in return for other needed supplies. Their presence discouraged others from preying on the settlers.
For a sailing vacation on a chartered boat, you can' t beat the British Virgin Islands. There is only one operating distillery but it is one of the oldest in all the islands.
While you're in the BVIs you'll be introduced to the Painkiller and Pusser's Rum. Charles Tobias, who lives on Tortola, founded the company that now blends this iconic blend of West Indian rums according to the Royal Navy's recipe.
While you're there, enjoy a tot of this dark rum for me.
- There is only 1 sugar cane spirit distiller in this database from British Virgin Islands.
- Arundel Estate Callwood Distillery
- There are also 2 companies in this database blending/bottling sugar cane spirits from British Virgin Islands.
- Pusser's West Indies Ltd.
- Tortola Spiced Rum Co