Real life adventure that reads like a novel

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

I just finished reading a fantastic book titled "Pirate Hunters," by Robert Kurson, which chronicles the search for a legendary pirate ship named the "Golden Fleece," which was captained by Joseph Bannister, who operated in the Caribbean during the late 1600's, also known as the Golden Age of Piracy.

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The treasure hunters included the lead divers John Chatterton (pictured below left/center) and John Mattera (below right). It has numerous elements that make for quite an adventure read: scuba diving, pirate ships, the Mafia, the Vietnam War, divers in the water near the World Financial Center when the planes hit the towers on 9-11 ... even a gun fight between men in a truck and a guy on a motorcycle. The amazing thing, though, is that it's a true story – there’s nothing fictionalized here at all.

Pirate Hunters, a nonfiction book by Robert Kurson

The book also succeeds as a starting point for exploration of a number of other subjects present in the book: the pirate Joseph Bannister; treasure hunters Tracy Bowden, Carl Fismer, and Robert Marx; pirate history, and deep sea diving that goes beyond simple exploration of coral and sea life as I've experienced on my small collection of diving experiences. The book also inspired an appreciation of historical research, as the story's main protagonists spent a fair amount of time in libraries researching for their mission. All of the time spent looking for the pirate ship with high-tech equipment didn't yield the full results until the crew had historical documents that helped narrow their search, such as the map below left, drawn in 1686, which related directly to their quest. The image below right is an example of pirate art by American illustrator and author Howard Pyle.

pirate treasure map labeled The Gulph of Samana

pirate art by Howard Pyle

If you like adventure and history, go out and get this book. I think I'll have to read Robert Kurson's other dive-related book, "Shadow Divers," in addition to researching and reading about the subjects mentioned above. It certainly gives a big dose of inspiration for the Arts Adventurer to ramp up his own adventures, that's for sure!

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