Originally a British ship, the Whydah was captured by the pirate Sam Bellamy near the Bahamas. She was a fast, well-armed, ship that was carrying a great deal of gold and silver. Bellamy took her over as his flagship, and transferred to her all of the cargoes he had looted from over 50 ships he and his men had captured over the preceding year.
Legend has it that Captain Bellamy was returning to Cape Cod after his successful voyage in order to be reunited with his sweetheart Maria Hallett who is thought to have lived on the sand cliff-tops of Wellfleet.
There is some reason to believe this story is true, as it is known that Bellamy deliberately sailed dangerously close to the Cape.
As a consequence, his fate, and the fate of 143 other men aboard the Whydah, he was to die in the raging storm some 500 feet from the beach as it existed in those days.
The Whydah is not a wreck like the Titanic—no sign of her can be seen on the ocean floor. Her hull was badly broken by the storm and what spilled out of her is buried under ten or more feet of sand. Our archeological recovery vessel helps us excavate through the sand to reach the artifacts, for, even after twenty years, there are still many of her treasures on the sea-bed!
As a youngster Barry Clifford had heard many stories about this ship and her treasures from his uncle. He was inspired to conduct historical research in many archives to track down clues to the location of the wreck. He also adopted modern electronics technology in order to search below the seabed for magnetic signatures that might reveal its location.
His search began in 1982. It was not easy. But, on July 24, 1984, a diver came to the surface with the news that cannon had been found and that the fabled pirate ship of legend had finally been found.