Finding a Pirate Ship is the story of the first documented pirate vessel ever discovered. In April of 1717 "Black Sam Bellamy" and his multiracial crew on two vessels, sank in a violent storm on Cape Cod. This set off a mad rush of locals combing the beach for treasure as well as government sanctioned attempts to recover some of the ill-gotten gains known to be on the Whydah.
In 1982 Barry Clifford, a Cape Cod diver and salvor was granted a permit from the state of Massachusetts to search for the remains of the Whydah. What ensued was a modern day undersea gold rush with competing groups seeking the elusive pirate treasure with Clifford being the only thus far to actually find remains of Bellamy's flagship.
The on-going excavation has resulted in the recovery of hundreds of thousands of artifacts and revealed what pirate life was actually like versus the romantic Hollywood version too often portrayed. The program will depict the early years of the search when it seemed the treasure would forever remain buried under the shifting sands to the elation of the eventual discovery.
Bob Cembrola is the exhibits manager at the Naval War College Museum and has been diving since 1972. His first shipwreck experience was as a URI undergraduate on HMS Orpheus scuttled in Narragansett Bay in 1778. Since then he has been involved in numerous underwater archaeological projects including the sunken city of Port Royal Jamaica 1692 and HMS Republic 1909. From 1984 to 1989 he was Executive Director of the Marine Museum at Fall River, Mass. He worked with Woods Hole scientists prior to and after their discovery of the Titanic offering the use of a 28 foot long model of the ill-fated vessel and an interview with a local survivor of the sinking. Bob did his undergraduate studies in history and anthropology at URI and his graduate studies in archaeology at Boston University and anthropology/archaeology at Brown. He has taught an elective at the Naval War College numerous times: "Shipwrecks and Naval History.”