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Ladies of Parkham Women's Institute Pirate Night

How Did the Ladies of the Parkham Women’s Institute Misunderstand Pirate Night?

We all love a good theme party, but one themed event had the women of a Women’s Institute in North Devon quite embarrassed after a huge misunderstanding.

Colin Darch, a retired captain was captured by Somali pirates in 2008. He wrote a book about his experience and gives talks to different institutions about it. The Parkham WI misunderstood the concept of the event, and dressed up like pirates.

Who is Colin Darch?

Colin Darch was a captain of a ship that sailed off the coast of Somalia by the Indian Ocean. While they were on the tug boat, Somali pirates decided to take him and his crew hostage. The pirates demanded $2.5 million and released the hostages after 7 weeks with less than what they asked for. (Source: BBC)

The negotiations were described to be similar to an intense poker game. Darch said: “The pirates started to fall out. I feared they might shoot one of us to bring some urgency into the situation.” The ship’s owner finally paid $678,000 in ransom to have them released. (Source: BBC)

Darch later on, wrote a book about his experience and gave talks about the real dangers of piracy. Since his retirement, Darch has never taken another ship to the said area. (Source: BBC)

What Happened at the Event?

The ladies at the Parkham Women’s Institute thought that the retired captain was going to talk about the history of pirates. They thought it would also be a fun idea to dress up for the occasion too. (Source: BBC)

The senior ladies really went all out and donned the most fun and elaborate costumes they could come up with. (Source: The Guardian)

To their surprise the talk was not about historical buccaneering but rather the experiences of an ex-hostage. Talk about awkward. (Source: The Guardian)

Steph George, the WI treasurer said: “I unfortunately thought it would be a good idea to dress up as pirates. Mr. Darch came in and said he had been held hostage by Somali pirates. It was embarrassing, but he was such a great chap and he wasn’t offended. He was such a good sport, but we won’t be dressing up again for a while.” (Source: BBC)

Listen to Colin Darch’s story here.

Did Darch Get Upset?

Being the good old sport that he is, he did not get upset at the situation. He was taken aback, but went with it anyway. He said: “Of course I didn’t take offence or mind — it was more like the Pirates of Penzance. They were lovely ladies. They made me judge who was the best dressed, which
was a difficult choice.” (Source: The Guardian)

Needless to say, the night was truly a memorable one. Darch picked the lady with a fluffy parrot on her shoulder as the winner of the evening. (Source: The Guardian)

How Dangerous is Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia?

Somali Pirates have attacked hundreds of ships since the early 90s. Though most of the hijackings aren’t successful, there are still dozens of casualties. (Source: WSJ)

Most of these pirates do not really intend to hurt anybody, but they are often consumed by their Robin Hood Complex. They see themselves as the good guys. Some would be able to take home over $100 million in one hijacking. (Source: WSJ)

Everyone knows that piracy is dangerous and horribly wrong. But what is the government doing against it? The truth is, when you’re on the sea, or just off the coast – you are on lawless territory. Without a government regulating laws on those areas, technically they aren’t doing anything illegal. (Source: WSJ)

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