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Enlighten Me: Buccaneer Bash and Bowers Beach history

Scallywags, swashbucklers and other assorted pirates will invade Bowers Beach Memorial Day Weekend.

The annual Buccaneer Bash will feature a treasure hunt, sword fights and a pirate ship complete with cannons.

Kids can walk the plank and there will be cruises on the Delaware Bay where pirate once boldly sailed, lurking for booty.

While organizers say they want guests to party like its 1699, there is a larger mission.  The weekend also marks the grand reopening of the Bowers Beach Maritime Museum which aims to educate people about the history of Bowers Beach.

Museum volunteer Charlie Irons remembers a time when Bowers Beach was one of the premier fishing villages on the Delaware Bay. His father was one of the town’s many watermen.

“He had a fishing party one time that had nine people on board and they went out in the Delaware Bay in what we call the oyster grounds south of Bowers and he caught over 1100 trout and was back in the dock by 12 o’clock,” Irons remembers. “You could take all the fish they catch in a year down there now and you won’t come up to 1100.”

Irons has seen a lot of changes over the years.  By the 1970’s many watermen had abandoned Bowers Beach after harvesting restrictions and disease had caused the town’s oyster industry to diminish.

The boathouse where Irons once worked has been converted to housing for the town's burgeoning population of baby boom retirees.

“That boatyard now has condominiums in it and those condominiums sell for $200,000, Irons says. “There are homes down on the beachfront now that are $500,000, $700,000 a piece. When I was raised in Bowers Beach, you could have bought the whole town for that much money,” he says with a laugh.

The Buccaneer Bash and grand reopening of the Bowers Beach Maritime Museum happens over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, May 22-24th