Shiver me timbers, the pirates have arrived in Mandurah

Shipmates Anita Elphinstone, Ben Dougherty and Mayor Rhys Williams at the launch.
Shipmates Anita Elphinstone, Ben Dougherty and Mayor Rhys Williams at the launch.

AHOY there me hearties – the pirates have arrived.

Ben Dougherty has brought his Pirate Ship to Mandurah to venture through the canals and waterways and also offer canal Christmas lights trips with a difference.

There’s a wheel to steer, a bell to ring or you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

The ship was launched by Mayor Rhys Williams on the eastern foreshore on Saturday, complete with the obligatory bottle of champagne.

High winds and rain for a short while also added to the atmosphere.

The history of the pirate ship began in the UK almost 20 years ago.

Dougherty grew up in the small Yorkshire village of Bridlington, home in the 70s and 80s to dozens of angling vessels.

But with the downturn in mining and the advent of cheap European holidays, the fleet dwindled.

Looking for a new use for his angling vessel Sportsman, Sean Newby converted her to a pirate ship in 2000.

The then 12-year old Dougherty worked for Newby in the summer holidays before gaining his skipper’s ticket at 18 and skippering Newby’s second vessel.

Dougherty has worked in IT for most of the past 10 years and while pondering the new Mandurah Bridge in 2016 with partner Anita, who grew up in Mandurah, decided her home town was the perfect place for the next pirate ship.

“I enjoyed working on the pirate ship in the UK so much and with two young children of my own, wanted to offer other kids the same opportunities,’’ he said.

Initially, he had wanted to find and convert an old wooden vessel but it was not feasible and the simplest way was building a brand new vessel.