The Anna Maria Island Privateers’ float-boat gets christened the “Skullywag” outside the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce in Holmes Beach July 1. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Jim "Skully" Hungerford, for him the Anna Maria Island Privateers float-boat is named. Islander Photo: File
John “Redbeard” Swager and Patti Lamoreux held the ceremonial pistol, and together they fired into the air. It sounded like the “pop” of a firecracker. “That was Jim, by the way,” announced Swager, dressed as the most regal of pirates. And the crowd, consisting mainly of Anna Maria Island Privateers and those who knew the late Jim “Skully” Hungerford, cheered. They had gathered at high noon July 1 to christen the Privateer’s float-boat the Skullywag in honor of Hungerford. And yes, Lamoreux confirmed at the end of the ceremony, a bit of Hungerford’s ashes were packed into the pistol she helped fire. “He was my fiancé,” Lamoreux said, her hands shaking with emotion as she held a cup of champagne. “He would be very, very, very proud.”
The Privateers christened the float-boat the Skullywag in a ceremony in the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce parking lot. First, Swager and others shared memories and praise of Hungerford, who was instrumental in building the Skullywag. “Jim would give you anything off his back,” Swager said, adding that he and Hungerford spent many nights together smoking mullet for AMIP fundraisers. “Here’s to Jim. I miss him.” Privateers then read a dedication, which began: “For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them ‘she.’ To them we toast and ask to celebrate the Skullywag. To the Privateers of old. To the Skullywag.” The dedication continued, “ Today we come to name this lady the Skullywag and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the Anna Maria Island Privateers. We ask the Privateers of old and the mood of god that is the sea to accept the Skullywag as her name, to help her through her passages and allow her to return with her crew safely. To the sea. To the Privateers before us. To the Skullywag.” The captain's wife, Privateer Serena “Booty” Schwartz, then broke a bottle of champagne against the ship and the christening was done. The philanthropic costumed pirates had held a contest among Manatee County students to name the float. The only requirement of contestants was that the nominations include “Skully” in a tribute to Hungerford of Palmetto, a Privateer who liked to wear a cape bearing a vivid skull and crossbones.
Hungerford, born in Akron, Ohio, moved to Manatee County in 1971. He died Nov. 22, 2006. He was a longtime Privateer and, as a fiberglass master, was instrumental in building the group’s new ship in 1999.
Two students from Electa A. Lee Magnet Middle School won AMIP’s naming contest - eighth-grader Kurtis Vernier and sixth-grader Michael Carnevale. “There were over 50 entries sent in,” said contest organizer Rebekka Stasny. Kurtis and Michael won the opportunity to don pirate garb and ride the Skullywag in the Island’s July 4 parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Coquina Beach and travels north through Anna Maria. The parade is followed by an after-party at Cafe on the Beach, Manatee Public Beach.