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A Day in the Life of a Part-Time Pirate: One-on-One with Big Cannon Jack

by Maia Muttoo Nov 8, 2019

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Photo by Dawn H Lee, courtesy of Duke Tibbetts.

Another Pirates Week begins in the Cayman Islands. Soon, mock marauders will land on shore at George Town, ready to pillage and plunder.

There are three types of people at Pirates Week: those who come out to enjoy the festivities in their regular clothes; amateur scallywags who dress up in a pirate hat or boots; and pro-pirates who go all-out with historically accurate costumes, weapons and attitude.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be one of these professional corsairs, keep reading.

We spoke to Duke Tibbetts aka Big Cannon Jack about how he got into pirate appearances, the energy of landing day, and his favourite part of being a buccaneer.

What crew are you part of, and what’s your role?

I am the first mate with the crew of the Bloody Bay Buccaneers.

Image via Bloody Bay Buccaneers on Facebook.
Big Cannon Jack pictured at far right.

How long have you been doing appearances as a pirate?

I started when I was 18. I have been doing it for 29 years.

How did you get involved?

It all started when I used to work for the phone company, which was called Cable and Wireless back then. They would enter a float in the parade every year and I would go as a pirate.

What other appearances do you do? I understand they’re not limited to Pirates Week in November.

Our pirate crew and I do appearances and volunteer our time when needed. We also do events and shows at the hotels; we are pirates for hire for events or parties.

What’s your costume like? Do you have any special or unique pieces of clothing or weaponry?

My costume is very unique from my ideas and changing things up over the years. I like to look rugged with lots of weapons.

Over the years, I have added many special pieces to my buccaneer outfit. One of my special and unique pieces is my Kraken sword; the handle is a skull head attached to octopus tentacles that fit over your hand as a guard.

Photo by Kelle’Ann Genevieve Carion-Parr via Notorious Pirates.
Big Cannon Jack pictured at far left.

Can you describe the energy on the ship during the landing parade?

The energy and the build-up to the landing is amazing with all the pirates together, especially when you come ashore with all the fireworks and the people cheering and waiting to see the landing. It’s a feeling like no other; it’s electric.

What’s the most enjoyable thing about being a pirate?

The most enjoyable thing for me is seeing all the people dressed up and enjoying the event. Also, all the wonderful tourists that come back year after year to enjoy our islands and the Pirates Week festival.

I also enjoy all the Caribbean music, culture and food. We have a very unique festival and tradition.

Look out for Big Cannon Jack when the Bloody Bay Buccaneers descend on George Town Saturday 9 November, and at selected events throughout the pirate season.

To learn more or to book Big Cannon Jack for events or parties, contact him at 345-926-6886 or [email protected].

Happy Pirates Week!