Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for he.
Five-year-old Peter Czaplicki bounded onto the deck of a wooden-framed tall ship early Saturday waving a plastic saber his dad bought at Disneyland and announced his arrival.
“I’m a pirate,” he said.
Not satisfied with the level of terror he instilled, he tried again, this time with more bravado, while his 8-year-old brother, Raymond, brandished a similar weapon behind him.
“I’M A PIRATE!” he shouted.
That’s the kind of reaction the Lady Washington received by the younger-than-10 set after docking in San Pedro. The ship, a replica of the first American vessel to explore the Pacific Northwest coast, drew scores of visitors who wanted to see what life was like at sea in the 18th century.
Adding to its allure, the 112-foot ship was used in the 2003 movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” starring Johnny Depp. It appeared as the HMS Interceptor, which was blown up at the end of the film.
Sure, pirates really were pillagers, drunkards and scoundrels, but that didn’t stop kids like Raymond and Peter from walking around the ship pretending to be one. Until they got bored.
“I like playing ‘Star Wars’ better than a pirate,” Peter said.
“It’s the same thing,” his brother reminded him.
The ship travels up and down the Pacific Coast, making about 70 stops a year. It acts as an educational tool for locals and also serves a chance for volunteers to try their hands as crew members.
“We teach kids about 18th century sailing,” crew member Beth Knouff said.
Visitors marveled at both the bigness and smallness of the ship: The mast towered far overhead, while below deck — where many of the 19 crew members shared living quarters — it was cramped and claustrophobic.
But the members of the crew wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s freedom,” said 24-year-old Nathalie Reginster in between singing sea chanteys. “Out at sea, it’s nothing but water. It’s peaceful freedom. When the pope died, we didn’t hear about it for three weeks.”
The crew keeps busy sanding, painting and tarring the vessel, which is in constant need of maintenance.
“This is what we do for fun,” Knouff said.
Georgette Dulac of Rancho Palos Verdes said she always likes to come to the port when tall ships are in town. With three grandchildren visiting, she wasn’t disappointed.
“It’s intriguing to see them, especially if it’s connected with a movie,” she said.
As soon as the Schwoegler family of Torrance arrived for a tour, sons 6-year-old Jason and 3-year-old Justin raced to get a good look atthings.
“Jason is totally focused on pirates,” said his dad, George.
For his part, Jason immediately began scrounging around the ship for the hidden bounty.
“I don’t know where the treasure chest is,” he said. “Maybe we have to dig where there’s an X.”