When the Clearwater Coast Guard found him, the pirate captain couldn't remember his name
(To watch a video of the daring rescue, please click here.)
The moment he saw the ship's masts rising above the North End Zone of Raymond James Stadium, he knew he was home.
Still delirious from nearly two years adrift at sea, with a memory still foggy and blurred, the massive seaman nonetheless recognized his beloved ship. After all, its image was burned not only into his brain, but onto his arm.
On Friday, June 2, 2000, the Clearwater Coast Guard rescued an unidentified, 6-2, 250-pound, bearded man from the choppy waters of Tampa Bay. Though he was suffering from amnesia and unable to tell the Coast Guard his name or origin, he remembered vaguely that he had been the powerful captain of a mighty pirate ship.
The memories slowly came back. One night while guiding his ship through an intense Caribbean storm, the famous captain was thrown overboard when the vessel was struck by lightning. He stayed afloat and managed to struggle onto a makeshift raft of wood planks, but he could not locate his ship in the furious storm. Amazingly, he had been adrift at sea ever since. His ship, meanwhile, drifted to shore off Tampa Bay, damaged but still seaworthy. It was rebuilt and docked permanently in Buccaneer Cove in Raymond James Stadium.
As they helped the huge seafarer regain his bearings on Friday, the Coast Guard recognized that same ship on the tattoo on the pirate's arm. They returned him to his ship in Buccaneer Cove on Saturday morning, just as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were beginning the Bank of America FanFest, and the overjoyed captain took up residence on the ship and vowed never again to be separated from his vessel. Now, he plans to live in the captain's quarters of the Pirate Ship and use the ship's crow's nest to keep watch over Tampa every night.
As he regained his strength on Saturday, memories of his life flooded back. For instance, he recalled…
…his favorite food: Checkers hamburgers, though he also greatly enjoys seafood (that is, he sees food, and he eats it). It's no coincidence he kept all that muscle packed on his frame during his years at sea.
…his favorite drink: Coke, of course. Two years of seawater was quite enough, thank you.
…his favorite play: Pirates of the Penzance
…his favorite movie: Jaws. However, he much prefers seeing it at his local AMC theater, as opposed to up-close and personal while adrift on the seas.
…his favorite 'leisure' activity: Lifting weights. Now that he's permanently in Tampa Bay, the seaman prefers to work out at least three days a week with the Buccaneer players. Mike Alstott, who is similarly muscle-bound, is often his lifting partner.
What the captain does not remember, however, is his name. With all hope of that detail returning to his mind, he has agreed to take whatever name Buccaneer fans choose for him, for he has taken it upon himself to serve as the team's official mascot. Beginning Saturday, there will be a naming contest on Buccaneers.com to determine just what we'll call Tampa Bay's own great captain of the sea. Once he has been given his new name, the seafarer's great ordeal will finally be complete.