"Real" Florida pirates arrested.

Donald Ridenbaugh and his friends do not remember who started the whole pirate motif. A skull tattoo here, a Jolly Roger flag there, and soon it had escalated to wearing knives on their belts almost every time they went out for an evening on the town.

For spring break, they took it a step further when they hacked their own pirate fort out of the Brazilian pepper on Jim Neville Preserve.

Preparations took four months.

They poached long-forgotten furniture from dozens of old campsites they found there, and moved out to the isle in late March. There was a kitchen with grills, pots and pans, a tiki bar stocked with booze, hand-drawn maps of the isle and, of course, skull-and-crossbones flags.

Eight days later, the pirate camp was raided by deputies who had decided to make an example of the 13 campers, who ranged in age from 17 to 22. They were charged with lighting illegal campfires and illegal camping on the preserve. Two campers, a 19-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy, were charged with marijuana possession.

It took two dozen canoe trips delivering furniture and supplies -- including pirate swords and 24 gallons of tiki torch fuel -- for the campout the last week of March.

"There are dozens of old campsites on that island; that was another reason we thought it would be OK," Brandon Hiatt, 19, said.

The pirate camp, nicknamed Nassau Point, included a large fire pit and tiki torches that lit the way back to at least seven camping areas.

They would wake up in the morning, eat and then have a camp cleanup, Ridenbaugh said. Then the group would dress up as pirates and paddle their canoes to nearby Turtle Beach, offering their services to children, bikini-clad women and tourists who wanted to take a photo with some real Florida pirates.

At low tide, they took their plastic chairs to sandbars and chilled out. That's what some of them were doing the first time the sheriff's helicopter flew overhead.

They ate ramen noodles and a stock of 320 hot dogs. They made supply runs. At night they went into town to hang out, or stayed around the fire and drank, belting out pirate drinking songs.

"They destroyed that island, no question," Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Chuck Lesaltato said. "They made porta potties. They cut a hole in the chair and put it over a hole in the ground."

The site remains a collection of trash, with piles of empty liquor bottles, ripped tents and mucked up plastic furniture.

People have been talking about it for weeks, after hearing a few news accounts that inaccurately cast it as a sort of a "Gilligan's Island" hideaway.

Even Sheriff Bill Balkwill went to the preserve to check out the campsite last weekend.

But there are also signs someone has stayed there since the pirates got busted.

As they returned to the site on Monday with a reporter, one of the tents left out there had been moved and set up again.

"What the hell?" said Tyler Martineau, 18. "We took this down."

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot,
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we're really a fright,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

We're rascals, scoundrels, villans, and knaves,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.
We're beggars and blighters, ne'er-do-well cads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up, me 'earties, yo ho.

EDIT: Hello Andrea!

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