An Epic Party Of Pirates & Wenches In Southern California
Yes I am a pirate,
200 years to late…
This chant echoes through the coves and over the hills of Catalina Island’s Two Harbors the first of October each year like the sound of cannons thundering on the high seas back in the 1800s.
Except that here there’s nothing to plunder, aside from other party boats and the bar. Buccaneer Days the first Saturday in October. Even tho it’s called Buccaneers Days, the biggest day by far is Saturday). (NOTE: The 2020 event has been canceled due to COVID-19.)
And plunder the people do, for two to three days during the annual ritual knows as .Buccaneer Days.
Everyone is dressed in pirate costumes and the booty they seek is not gold, silk or other treasures.
It’s rum, wild times and hanging with other modern-day buccaneers, whose attire ranges from incredible thousand-dollar-plus full-decked-out outfits to bandits sporting bandanas, eye patches and brandishing plastic swords. Arrrrg.
Well it used to be anyway. It now cost $45 a day for admission (it used to be free). Read this post on How They Ruined Buccaneer Days.
Still, PubClub.com likes to be positive and here’s what it was like in its heyday, some of which still exists today.
Most of the pirates and wenches stay on sail and powerboats – the only other accommodations on remote Two Harbors are a 12-room B&B and a campground ($130 per person and includes three-day admission) – and motor around the harbor on dinghies, kayaks or canoes.
Most of the time, with cocktail in hand, they are headed to pillage drinks from other boats.
It’s hardly a scene as wild as that of Lake Travis in Texas, but it’s a spirited environment where cocktails are at the ready as readily as a sword or pistol was for the real pirates.
The Harbor Reef Bar
On shore, entertainment awaits at the single bar, which is no more than a wooden deck. It’s attached to the only restaurant, called the Harbor Reef.
A band plays on a small stage, people dance under the stars, get drunk at the plastic tables or crowd around the bar with friends and fellow pirates.
Actually, there is second bar at the back of the Harbor Reef, which offers a bit of relief from the crowded outer bar. Day and night the deck is packed, as is the surrounding area. The more the merrier!?
While Buccaneer Days can last up to five days – diehards arrive Wednesday and may not leave until Monday – it’s pretty much a weekend affair.
The big day is Saturday. It has a few small activates but the action is at the bar. The pirating begins around noon and lasts until late at night. The costume contest is not until 9 p.m., which makes for some “spirited” competition – thanks to the liquid spirits.
A band plays all day, the bar deck is swayin’ and beautiful “wenches” serve up navy grogs from a portable drink stand. Arrrrg!
Besides being 200 years too late, most of these 200-plus modern-day pirates (and wenches or damsels in distress) are over-40 victims of fate. But for those who go for younger women (and men) there’s enough 20s and 30s to fill a modest pirate chest.
Unlike the days of yore, everyone gets along without regard to age.
Perhaps in these modern times their occupation is just not around. But they certainly don’t wear a frown.
With only about a hundred moorings, Two Harbors starts filling up on Thursday (PubClub has sailed on Wednesday) and by late morning Friday it is full. This forces people around the cove to what is known as the Fourth of July or some four miles away to Emerald Bay. Some boats just anchor in Two Harbors.
The campground also fills up so make a reservation at least a month in advance (310-510-8368 or on-line at the Catalina Web Site).
There is extended ferry service just for Buccaneer Days. Catalina Express out of San Pedro only, has ferries at 8 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. The returns are 10:15 p.m., and 2 a.m.
If you get”stuck (voluntarily or otherwise), the Sunday return times are 9:45 a.m, and 2 and 4 p.m. Book as soon as you know because it will sell out well before Buccaneer Days. CatalinaExpress.com. Phone: (800) 481-3470.
A water taxi in Two Harbors provides transpiration to shore ($3 each way), which is what most people take in at night. Otherwise, the dingy dock can get quite interesting around 2 in the morning.