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I may have to commute over snowy, curvy mountain roads this time of year, but thanks to my current audio book, I’m in warm, tropical seas looking for a sunken pirate ship!
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson is the true story of the search for a sunken ship from the Golden Age of piracy (1650-1720). Some of you may remember the author Robert Kurson; he wrote a very compelling book a few years back called Shadow Divers, about two diving partners who discovered a sunken German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey.
In Pirate Hunters, one of the divers, John Chatterton, is back with a new partner, John Mattera. The men became partners to do some treasure hunting and had their next dive all planned out when they were contacted by a renowned, retired diver who asked them to put their treasure hunting plans on hold to dive for the Golden Fleece, the ship of pirate Joseph Bannister. Bannister was a prominent sea captain who worked with shipping merchants in England until one day, for unknown reasons, he stole the ship he was captaining and turned pirate. The divers are fascinated by Bannister; his story and his ship were both lost to time, but they have an excellent lead on the ship’s current location, and the chance to bring his story back to light. Besides, only one other pirate ship has ever been discovered and positively identified. Chatterton and Mattera have a chance to make history, and they just can’t pass it up.
Research is a key part of any treasure dive, and author Kurson takes us along with Mattera as he travels the globe, visiting libraries and museums, combing through primary resources and reading old maps, trying to get a handle on Bannister and what he might have been thinking. In addition to facts about diving for sunken ships and treasure, the reader learns a great deal about pirates and the myths that surround them.
They never said “Arrgg” – we have Hollywood to thank for that, and a lot of other misconceptions.
The tension builds as more time passes with no luck, and as local governments work on passing legislation to make shipwreck discoveries the property of the country of location rather than the diver.
Kurson writes an adventure story very well. He makes you feel the excitement, the disappointment, and the danger of such an endeavor.
McClintic Library has the book as well as the audio. I’m enjoying the audio very much, as the reader is excellent.
Let the temperatures drop; in my imagination, I’m on a ship deck, bobbing with the waves and hoping against hope that over the next swell I’ll see the Golden Fleece.

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