Behind the Stink: Pirates of Hilton Head’s cursed villain speaks out

You think your job is rough? You need to talk to Stinky Pete, the villain behind the daily kids vs. pirates battle on the Black Dagger.

The ship sails the waters of Calibogue Sound, filled with pirates-in-training under the tutelage of Captain Bones and his deckhands Bones and Squirt, as part of the Pirates of Hilton Head.

Stinky Pete1Kids earn pirate nicknames and tattoos as they embark on an hour-plus treasure hunt, battling Stinky Pete for the booty-filled chest at the bottom of the sound.

Every day, Stinky Pete loses the key to the chest. Every day, Stinky Pete gets pummeled by kids shooting the ship’s water cannons at the lovable loser. And every day, Stinky Pete gets tossed from his dinghy into the water, where he wallows in defeat.

The activity has become arguably the most popular children’s attraction on Hilton Head Island. But don’t tell that to Stinky Pete. He prefers to think of himself as a selfless mentor of future pirates. For years, he has been a media recluse, but we caught up with him for a revealing Q&A.

Monthly: Captain Hook, Blackbeard…those are names of menacing pirates. Do you worry that a name like Stinky Pete doesn’t exactly make other pirates fear you?

Stinky Pete: Aye, it wasn’t me first choice, but then again Bones and Squirt aren’t so fearsome, either!

Stinky Pete2Monthly: Where did the legend of Stinky Pete begin?

Stinky: Yar, that is a tough one. I prefer to thinks of it as less of a legend and more of a hurtful rumor, started by that Captain Bones and perpetuated by the media such as yerself.

Monthly: When we think of legends, we think of heroic figures. Wouldn’t you call this more of a cautionary tale for other pirates on what not to do?

Stinky: What are ye tryin’ to say? I go out there every day and give it me best. I’m hero to all!

Monthly: Like the Washington Generals with the Harlem Globetrotters, it appears by my count that you’ve never beaten the little pirates. Would you consider yourself the Washington Generals of pirating?

Stinky: Thar ye go again, getting all personal! Wouldn’t that then make ye the Washington Generals of reporters? Har, har, reporter man.

Monthly: You’re around water all day, Stinky Pete. You get blasted by water, you fall in the water consistently. How is that you’re still so stinky?

Stinky: I’m not so sure it’s good manners to be talking about that kind of thing. I think I smell just fine and me mother always said so as well.

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Monthly: How long have you been looking for that coveted pirate treasure in Calibogue Sound?

Stinky: It has been a long time, that I will concede! Getting blasted every day, every other hour tends to make all the days blend into one. I’m thinking seven summers now in total.

Monthly: There are many Vines and videos out there where you look scared of the little pirates, Stinky Pete. Many in the pirating community are calling for your resignation. What do you say to your detractors?

Stinky: Aye, I learned a long time ago that haters will be haters! I challenge any one of those armchair pirates to go against the Black Dagger’s water cannons by me side. What say ye?

Monthly: So many reviewers, including national voices like MSN and National Geographic Channel, call this the must-do activity for kids and families on Hilton Head. Does it bother you that defeating Stinky Pete has become the No. 1 activity on the island?

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Stinky: I prefer to think of it as though I am the pirate they all want to beat. When you’re on top, every pirate wants to be you.

Monthly: After being taunted and thwarted by kids all day every day, do you think you’ll ever be a parent yourself?

Stinky: Aye, I’ll be needing a crew of me own if I’m to defeat me foes. Some little bilge rats and scallywags are sure to come! I just need the right lady pirate to come around.

Monthly: Do you dream at night about seeing what’s inside the mighty treasure chest, or is it a recurring nightmare?

Stinky: Not all treasure is gold and jewels, matey. Seeing the next generation of pirates bind together in common cause is reward in itself.

Monthly: Kids walk off the ship every day with booty from the pirate chest and you still have none. Have you ever thought of hanging up the hat and eyepatch, buying some Speed Stick and some gold and calling it a career?

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Stinky: Aye, they say you can take the stink out of the pirate, but you can’t take the pirate out of the stink. Does that answer ye question?!?

Monthly: You still truly seem to enjoy the kids and the thrill of the chase. Is this all about the love of the game for you?

Stinky: The other pirates, they all think I can’t read. But I go home at night and I read all the reviews. I know who the real star of the show is, regardless of what Squirt has to say. Speaking of Squirt, have you ever caught a whiff of her at the end of the day? Now thar’s your stinky pirate. 

For details on how to book your child’s showdown with Stinky Pete, call Pirates of Hilton Head at 843-363-7000 or visit