Best Dispatches From Captain's Quarters

(Illustration by Ronald Kurniawan)

Best Dispatches From ­Captain’s Quarters

Since 1993, readers worldwide have received Riverside resident Christine Markel Lampe’s labor of love, No Quarter Given, a magazine devoted to pirates and their exploits. Six times a year, editor Lampe (a.k.a. Jamaica Rose Barton) and her publisher husband Mark (a.k.a. Captain Michael McLeod) delve into the history of those seafaring rapscallions, assess recent contributions to pirate culture (books, movies, games) and update a wide subculture of pirate re-enactors spanning from San Pedro and St. Petersburg, Florida, to New Zealand and the Netherlands. “I get to tell people I met my husband on a pirate ship,” Lampe boasts of her first mate.

Authenticity for No Quarter Given’s 600-plus subscribers is paramount. “Walking the plank was first written about in a play! In the 1800s, there was actual pirate-plank walking,” Lampe points out. And what about peg legs? “A lot of peg-leg sailors tended to be cooks.” And hooks? “Not too many hooks. It would’ve been hard to get around on a ship without two hands.” But at least there was rum. “The water was oak barreled,” she says, “and would turn green and slimy, so it had to be watered down with rum and beer.”

There are layers upon layers of history to be uncovered regarding historical piracy. “They were like the James Deans, the Hell’s Angels of the period,” Lampe says of 17th- and 18th-century pirates. “But they formed one of the earliest modern democratic societies in the 1600s. They had a lot of freedom to disregard the rules and live life how they wanted to — and they had very dashing-looking clothes.” Some of Lampe’s favorite articles include accounts of buccaneer William Dampier, who dropped anchor at the Galapagos in the late 1600s only to make some of the same observations about the island fauna as Darwin would 150 years later; a two-part article about pirates who observed and tracked hurricanes; and an exposé on the whale extract-elixir amber grease.

Some of the most moving features in the magazine are tributes to fellow pirate re-enactors who have passed. Ample space is given to eulogies, whether in “Notes From the Helm” (Lampe’s editor’s letter) or in other columns filled with reminiscing and heavy hearts. In pirate-speak, “to give quarter” means to show mercy to captives. No Quarter Given gives voice to the kind of community known only to those who have boarded tall ships and endured choppy waters.


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