Wind Topples Historic Pirate

By Jonathan L'Ecuyer

Hampton Union, June 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

The injured pirate is carried away by crane on May 30.
[Photo by Jonathan L'Ecuyer]

HAMPTON -- Shiver me timbers!

If the 27-foot-tall pirate at Buc's Lagoon Mini Golf course could talk, that is probably what he would've said as he fell over on Memorial Day weekend.

The pirate, a Hampton Beach landmark for the past 35 years, walked the plank in late May when an estimated 50 mph wind toppled him over onto the golf course.

John Schertell, the owner of the golf course for the past eight years, said he was thankful the pirate didn't hit the building or house.

"He broke his good foot off," Schertell said, "he broke his sword too."

Schertell explained that the pirate has been in Hampton for decades and at its current location at the golf course since 1981.

"Wedding photos are taken under it," he said. "The kids love it ... We got to get it back."

The pirate fell over in similar winds in early May but Schertell was able to get him back up again.

When it went down over the Memorial Day weekend, the pirate sustained more serious injuries. The golf course was not able to get him back up again owing to the need for repairs.

The pirate may need wood of a different sort, in the form of crutches to help keep him standing for a while.

"He fell on a whiskey barrel used to plant flowers in and cracked his good leg," he said. "We'd give him a peg leg, but he already has one."

"He didn't break his nose though ... he landed on his chest."

Schertell said the 27-foot-tall, 15-foot-wide pirate often acts as a sail in the wind. He said the constant pressure of the wind, coupled with rusted pipes underground led to the pirate "taking a dive."

"The pirate has always swayed a little in the wind ... (but) it's built strong to sustain this stuff," he said.

The pirate's body is composed of a pipe frame, with steel crossbeams and a Fiberglas outer shell. The structure is so big that a person can walk inside it with ease.

Schertell said the community and neighbors have been helpful in trying to get the pirate back up. Currently the injured pirate is in land near a marsh waiting for repair.

A Fiberglas foot will need to be replaced as well as the sword. The more serious repair that needs to be completed and also what costs the most is the foundation.

Schertell said he already spent $1,500 putting the pirate back up the first time and now estimates it will take another $2,500 to put him back up this time.

"We will replace the 4-inch pipe that ran into the ground at its base with a 4- to 6-inch I-beam," he said, "or we could use a telephone pole in the ground and set him on that."

Schertell also said that this time around they will place the pirate in a different direction where the wind won't hit it as much.

The first thing is to get the structure set back into the ground. Schertell said he hopes the pirate can stand tall again by sometime this summer, but if not, will definitely be up by next season.

"So many people love it," he said. "People use the pirate as a meeting spot with their kids."

Schertell said he has made some T-shirts and has started to sell them to raise money for the repair work. Currently there are no fund-raisers, but he said the golf course will gladly accept donations for the cause.

"People just coming down to golf will help us get him back up," he said.

Schertell said business has been good even with the pirate's obvious absence, but it's all people comment about.

The Fourth of July weekend really kicks off the summer season at the beach, and Schertell expects business to be very good, especially in comparison to last year at this time.

For information about donating to the pirate's "medical bills," call 498-1332.