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Reader essay: A pirate's life for him

Adam Sahhar spends his days prowling the waters of the Inner Harbor, looking for plunder and teaching passengers a lesson in Pirating 101.

As general manager of Baltimore's Urban Pirates, Sahhar, aka Capt. Peppercorn, leads the crew aboard The Fearless, a pirate-themed, children-friendly tour boat armed with water cannons. This is the first week of pirate season, which runs through Oct. 31.

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Sahhar, a 27-year-old who lives in Fells Point, and the rest of the crew will be on hand for Saturday's Privateer Day in Fells Point. Sahhar was all to happy to speak to b about life as a modern day pirate.

Origins

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"The Urban Pirates was actually started in 2008 by two Baltimore moms [Lauren and Cara], who both have kids all under the age of 10. I was their neighbor, and I've worked for Nickelodeon in New York, so I have a background in children's entertainment. It seemed like a perfect fit, so I stepped in to guide them to develop a kid-friendly program. The program is designed for an age group of 3 to 10 ten years old, but we do family and adult cruises. We teach everyone how to talk, sing and dance like a pirate — we teach them how to be a part of our crew."

Living history

"It's like watching a live action show, but it's in your face. Over the past five years, we've seen some very dark clouds — we were sailing just before and after the hurricane last summer when it hit — and have had to rush back in the middle of a cruise. You honestly never know what the day's going to bring, and that does make a very interesting dynamic, as opposed to going to a museum. Parents have even said to me on a cloudy or stormy day that that's what makes it real: The fact that there's an ominous, gloomy feeling to the adventure."

A day in the life

"I need to get a business card with a picture of the ship on it to explain to people what I do for a living. My mom is beside herself because she doesn't know how to tell people what I do — on the one hand, I do have a very successful job, but I am a pirate. I run all the advertising, the online booking software system, merchandise orders, but … I'm also Captain Peppercorn. It's basically like setting up a show, but on a ship. My day-to-day work is a marriage of all of my talents into making this program a success."

The crew

"As the general manager, I try to keep [the staff] as creative as possible. We have a large range of male and female pirates, and everyone designs their own outfits and everything. A lot are young local actors, and they're all phenomenal. I just hired our newest pirate, who's only 16 years old. He came on the boat two years ago, and has been waiting ever since to turn in his application and audition."

On adults: "We do birthday parties and field trips, but we also do adult bachelor/bachelorette parties and weddings. We've had two small weddings aboard The Fearless, and one was on July 4th on the water, with fireworks and everything … those people continue to come back every year to relive the experience and the memories."

On kids: "We've had a lot of families over the past give years, but my favorite moments are when the kids get really excited and into the story. Going onto the ship, I can always kind of sense the apprehension — it could be scary, it could be fun. But I've made it so that there are no scary points. What we do on the pirate ship really creates laughing memories for them, and they talk about it for months afterward. Their eyes light up when they see the treasure, when we launch a water cannon at the enemy and blast them out of the water. It's such a great time, and by the time it's over, everyone's singing 'We Are Pirates.' When I see how excited the kids get, it makes it worth it to do five cruises a day."

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