On these lazy, hazy summer days it has not been uncommon to drive along the Potomac
River and notice a large, oddly shaped red vessel with water spewing from it. It’s
not a fire boat; what it is, mateys, is a pirate ship, the
Boomerang. It’s come to our shores to pillage and plunder among children and parents, locals, tourists, and willing after-dark revelers. Launched Memorial Day weekend, it takes
paying customers on a hunt for supposedly stolen treasure. As they navigate the river
from the Georgetown waterfront to Hains Point, a water cannon battle against scallywags
ensues, interspersed with dancing, face-painting, and a general atmosphere of swashbuckling
derring-do. At least that’s the promise from the boat company and, so far, representatives
say, business has been brisk.
Who knew there was a hunger for pirates in this of all cities? A walk by the boat
over the weekend, tied up at Washington Harbour dock, showed a long line of passengers
waiting to board.
Among the recent passengers was
Zachary Hooper, who took the cruise on a weekend morning with his son and several other families.
“We figured it was a fun and different way to spend a balmy Sunday morning,” he says.
The crew were in character and costumes, and their dialogue was pure
Pirates of the Caribbean—“definitely cheesy, but the kids loved it.” He also says it was “efficient and well-organized”
and that he “felt the kids were safe.”
Boomerang pirate ship is the brainchild of husband and wife
Dave DuBois, a schoolteacher and financial planner, respectively, who were “looking to improve”
DC’s entertainment options. In 2006 they began their first entertainment venture,
a party bus business, which grew quickly from one to five buses. Last year they launched
a party yacht, followed this year by the pirate cruise.
On their website, penned in their best pirate-ese, they explain what happened next.
“Longing for even more adventure, the Boomerang creators decided it was time for them
to become the saltiest dogs on the river. Piracy, looting, and plundering crossed
their minds. . . . Alas, the
Boomerang Pirate Ship was born.” It was built on the Chesapeake Bay just for their purposes.
It is 54 feet long and carries 84 passengers and six crew members.
According to sales and marketing director
Lea Biciocchi, the
Boomerang is the only pirate-themed ship that traffics the Potomac River. There are similar
“Everything we hoped for and more. We have tapped into a new industry.” The hourlong
family cruises run during the daytime and cost $20 per person; the adult cruises (21
and older) cost $20 up to as much as $40 per person, and last for two hours. They
are trimmed of some of the kid-friendly antics but still very keyed to the “yo ho
ho” mode. Alcoholic beverages and snacks can be purchased on all cruises. The
Boomerang sails every day except Monday.
Hooper says the program for his family’s cruise was to hunt down a rogue pirate. They
found him on another, smaller vessel, and a make-believe battle ensued. “It took a
couple of water fights to defeat him. The kids seemed to enjoy learning pirate lingo
and feeling like they were part of the game,” he says. Hooper says he plans to book a charter with another group of families.