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For decades, excited youngsters have scrambled across the beach in Cape May on a summer Sunday, the Jolly Roger fluttering above, pirate hats perched precariously on their heads and shovels in hand, eager to find Captain Kidd’s mysterious and elusive buried treasure.

Truth be told, these young bounty hunters are far more intent to dig into the sand to find their very own treasure chest than they are with the tall tales surrounding Captain Kidd and twice-told tales of buried treasure somewhere – or anywhere – around Cape May centuries ago.

The story goes back centuries, riddled with a few facts and perhaps more fiction that Captain Kidd and perhaps a few other pirates and privateers landed in and around Cape May, buried their treasure and set sail for points north, the Caribbean or ports unknown.

Pirates, the British and others were always in need of provisions, most importantly fresh water. Lake Lily, a freshwater pond at the time in Cape May Point, provided an excellent and convenient source for sailors to fill up their water barrels and apparently help themselves to local livestock. However, the enterprising residents ultimately turned the tables. They dug a trench from the ocean to the lake, making the water undrinkable and thwarted the crews who needed the water and were pilfering their pigs and chickens.

Did Captain Kidd or his crew bury treasure in the late 1600s around Cape May Point before the locals outsmarted them? Who knows. Certainly no one has ever found it – but not for lack of searching!

Stede Bonnet, known as the Gentleman Pirate during his sailing career, is rumored to have buried treasure along the Delaware Bay, perhaps in the present- day area of Town Bank or the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. But, once again, dead men tell no tales!

Today, youngsters and families are happy digging for buried treasure or enjoying adventures aboard local pirate ships out of Cape May and Ocean City, sailing the local waters and firing water canyons at any ‘enemies” who dare approach. Historic Cold Spring Village hosts a Seafarers’ Weekend that includes pirate lore and children can search for gold coins hidden around the Village.

Chances are there are pirate fans among us who have never heard the term “mooncussors”. These men were a breed unto themselves, dangerous, land-based pirates who would lure ships ashore on dark, moonless nights, using decoy signal fires. Once the ship was near shore, mooncussors would subdue the crew and plunder the wreckage for whatever valuables were aboard. Ahoy, mateys!