On the Metedeconk River even the casual visitor can spot osprey, beaver, river otters, the occasional bald eagle, and—if you let your imagination take the helm—a pirate or two.
Buccaneers prowl these waters courtesy of Brick-based Jersey Shore Pirates, which operates the Sea Gypsy II, an interactive onboard experience featuring water cannons, a treasure hunt, and a craftily costumed crew. The adventure is the brainchild of Rob and Jessica Corring, Neptune residents who once worked for an Annapolis-based pirate company and decided to have their own ship built. Last year marked the Sea Gypsy II’s maiden voyage.
The fun begins from the moment passengers arrive (reservations are highly recommended). Before boarding, kids are given pirate name tags (my niece and nephew were Sharkbait Sarah and Anchor Arms Andrew) and pirate clothes, and can get painted-on tattoos and mustaches. Then the recruits are lined up and taught pirate lingo: “Ahoy!” “Argh!” and “Ay! Ay!” After boarding, the flag is raised, kids congregate on the forward lookout deck, and off the ship goes into the Metedeconk.
The voyage is carefully choreographed to ensure a fun and safe experience. When the skipper yells, “All hands on deck!” kids must immediately sit. But the enthusiastic captain and skipper do more than keep potentially rowdy kids in line. They also seriously entertain, even the adults. In fact, the grown-ups are the butts of most jokes, as when Sinker, the skipper, asks whether the kids would prefer a nature cruise like the adults take, where you “put your elbow on your knee, put your chin in your hand, and look really bored.”
The adventure includes the requisite treasure hunt and an attack by the terrible Pirate Pete, who approaches on a motorized launch and must be repelled with water cannons. The kids also get down at a limbo party and get to drink pirate “grog” and sing pirate songs. “We just want everyone to come out and take an hour and 45 minutes to get swept away,” says Rob.
The trip is targeted at kids ages 3 to 10. The Sea Gypsy II sails six times daily and is available for private birthday parties.
The end of the adventure is bittersweet, especially for grown-ups, who will wish the Jersey Shore Pirates had been around when they were kids.
Jersey Shore Pirates, Riverfront Marina, 281 Princeton Avenue, Brick; 732-899-6100, jerseyshorepirates.com. Tickets are $18 per person, $12 for children 2 and under. Children must be accompanied by at least one adult per group.
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