September/October 2016 Cape Cod Life Magazine

The Whydah Pirate Museum is a new Cape Cod treasure

Cape Cod Life  /  September/October 2016 / , ,

Writer: Catherine Kierce

The Whydah Pirate Museum is a new Cape Cod treasure, Sept/Oct Cape Cod Life |

During the stormy night of April 26, 1717, fierce wind and rain sent the Whydah pirate ship to its watery grave off the coast of Wellfleet. As the ship went down, locals rushed to the beach to gather any treasure that may have been floating in the water, but most went home empty handed.

“The problem was the majority of the treasure sank immediately with the ship,” says Chris Macort, the museum’s exhibit director. From that day forward, the remains of the Whydah rested on the ocean’s floor—and stories of the ship’s reported treasure grew into the stuff of legend.

Using a map made during the same era as the wreck and a magnetometer to detect metal underwater, Provincetown resident Barry Clifford spent years searching for the ship. He finally struck gold when he began to discover artifacts dated around the time of the Whydah. In 1985 Clifford’s findings were authenticated when he discovered the ship’s bell, with the inscription “Whydah Gally 1716.” With the discovery, Macort says the ship’s treasure “became reality again—and went from legend to history.”

Newly opened in 2016, The Whydah Pirate Museum at 674 Route 28 in West Yarmouth showcases the world’s only authenticated pirates’ treasure, as well as a replica of the real ship to explore. The museum’s collection includes 300-year-old silver coins, pistols, sword hilts, and more! In recent years the treasure has been part of a National Geographic exhibit titled “Real Pirates,” which traveled the country and was seen by more than 2.5 million people. With the opening of the facility in June, museum manager Meredith Katz says the treasure “has now come back home.”

The museum, which is open daily, also features rope tying and flag pulling stations, informational panels, and more. For more information, visit

A meal fit for a pirate

After learning about a famous pirate ship, enjoying a meal at Captain Parker’s Pub seems like a perfect fit. Overlooking Parker’s River, the restaurant at 668 Route 28 in West Yarmouth boasts a legendary clam chowder and other great menu items including prime rib, baked and broiled seafood, fish and chips, and more. Captain Parker’s is open daily for lunch and dinner. 508-771-4266 — Catherine Kierce

Catherine Kierce

A resident of Yarmouth Port, Catherine Kierce is a student at Salve Regina University, majoring in communications with minors in marketing and gender studies. A former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life Publications, she is currently working as the communications & outreach assistant at The Potter League for Animals in Newport, Rhode Island.