Features of the Day

This here be a place where we feature the latest Age of Sail/pirate game development or historical news – as well as showcase the latest movie, video or pictures. This is also where you can find “the model of the week”.

Article of the Month: TREASURE!!!

Three years ago I was thrilled when I actually came upon a bonafide real “Piece of Eight” at a flea market in Tennessee. Not only was it real silver and the thickness perfect, but the stamp was very prominent and this was a nice big piece. I acquired it for a good price and have sat and looked upon it since then many times – wondering who first spent it and for what – where it has been and what it has seen – my imagination runs wild. I can only imagine finding something like this in a historical place where it was lost. I’ve dreamt of finding treasure since I was a child and the written works of R.L. Stevenson and Carl F. Marx LINK have always kept this passion alive in me.

I recently happened upon a YouTube video of a man making the discovery of his lifetime. The most awesome thing about this is that this man is on vacation with his family when it happens. This man is doing something that I have always dreamed of doing. My diving experience is very meager. Its something I’ve only recently been taking up. I can’t believe its taken me so long, but have serious doubts I will ever find anything of significance once I begin diving more. I was thrilled just to see the brilliant large coral and colorful fish I witnessed on my last dive. I watched interviews with this man and his family in other videos and he says that one mostly finds old junk and beer cans.

This happened a couple of years ago now and I missed it at the time. The fact that he has found something really special is both evident and extremely amusing from the exuberant and colorful muffled underwater screams that the recording captures. What a lucky guy. I will let the video speak for itself.

This man and his family found over a million dollars in Spanish gold from the sunken 1715 plate fleet off of Fort Pierce Florida. One piece alone has been valued at over $500,000 dollars. Now that’s a good days work folks – especially while on vacation. For more read here: LINK



Dutch Frigate from 1700 found in Baltic


So I missed this when it happened and only learned about it last month. Boy was I exited.

In March it was announced that an almost completely preserved and intact Dutch Frigate built around 1700 had been found in the Gulf of Finland. This vessel is in such good shape that her guns are still mounted on the upper deck and glower out of her ports over-watching the dark sea floor where the ship rests. I was stunned when I looked at the video and pictures. Only the stern was damaged on her impact with the sea floor and so the rear gallery is missing – pity. I guess they’ve known about her for a while but kept it secret so that the site wouldn’t be plundered. Already many important artifacts have been found. As I detailed in my other stories about the Mars, Vasa, Kronen, Vrou Maria and the “ghostship” Swan LINK – the Baltic gives up yet again another treasure.

Here is the video, and another article about it. MK



EDIT 09 August 2016: I finally managed to find a place where you can actually watch the movie Tobago 1677. It is from Cosmos documentaries and has Greek subtitles. Its in two parts through daily motion. Its all here and very good. Very much worth the wait and the watch. MK

Tobago 1677 Cosmos Documentaries

Tobago 1677



While researching my new VIMEO account I stumbled upon a video that was produced by Tobago to promote understanding of their history while at the same time – helping tourism. This documentary video looks really good and there are some medium well done scenes of French and Dutch CGI sailing ships and battles.

So if you’ve taken a look at the characters in GOF ERAs2 you have seen the Dutch Commander Jacob Binckes. Binckes is actually central to this story. The Dutch had been present on Tobago since 1628, naming it New Walcheren. The small trading colony built small wood stockades around the island for defense. In 1637 they were massacred by Indians. After a near twenty year period of abandonment the Dutch resettled Tobago naming it Nieuw Vlissingen(New Flushing). They ousted the Courlanders and built three significant forts to protect new and established plantations and growing trade with other Dutch colonies short distances away on the Essequibo and Demerara Rivers.

These forts proved valuable in repelling three unsuccessful English invasions of the island in 1639, 1642, and 1647. In 1666 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the English were finally successful in taking the island. However this was only because Jamaican based pirates made the attack and successfully held the island for a week before English troops could arrive to take possession. The English left only fifty men behind to hold the island and were wiped out by the French several months later. The French made a claim on the island but the Dutch once again assumed control after the French moved on a short time later.

In 1672 during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the English once again attacked Tobago with six warships and 600 men. They completely destroyed the colony and forcibly deported its population to Barbados. In 1676, the Dutch once again occupied the island and set about building a large modern star works breastwork fort. The plan was that this would eventually become a stone fortress. The earthworks, stockades and gabion reinforced fort was completed just in time because the Netherlands had been embroiled in the Franco-Dutch War for the last four years and the French were about to come calling once again upon Tobago.

Louis XIV sent his friend and fellow blueblood Admiral Jean D’Estrees to destroy, harrass and seize as many Dutch possessions as he could in the Caribbean. In 1676 d’Estrees led a large French naval fleet into the Caribbean. He decided upon Tobago as a prime Dutch target because of its location and known weakness. However, Jacob Binckes had arrived on Tobago before his coming with ten Dutch warships and troops. His orders were to further fortify the island. Roemer Vlacq and Binckes were able to successfully repel D’Estrees invasion in a large and climactic battle both at land and sea.

Binckes, believing the French would not enter the bay with its dangerous rock formations and 10 Dutch men-of-war anchored there, concentrated his defenses around the breastworks. Below in Rockly Bay he drew his ships up close together and anchored them in a half moon line formation parallel to the shore. Between the ships and the shore were two unarmed merchant vessels and a heavy supply ship, the Sphera Mundi, into which were placed more than 200 colonial women and children – along with the sick and some slaves. Binckes believing the French would not attack by sea, took many of the Dutch sailors/soldiers aboard the ships with him to strengthen the garrison.

D’Estrees was joined by an English fleet as they were allied against the Dutch at this time. D’Estrees believed there was no way they could lose. He led a combined Anglo-French fleet of 24 ships, 446 guns and 4,000 men – against Binckes with less than 1500 men, the fort and 10 Dutch Warships with around 300 guns.

The French landed 1,000 men on 21 February, who then took two days to hack their way through the dense vegetation to the fort. On 23 February, a French officer disguised as a drummer demanded the colonies surrender to d’Estrées. Binckes declined.

D’Estrées, low on provisions, knew he could not win a lengthy siege and decided upon a simultaneous assault by both land and sea. The attack at dawn on 3 March was greatly helped by the capture of a Dutch vessel, whose pilot treacherously agreed to lead the French into Rockly Bay in return for his freedom. The French entered the bay in two columns and launched a withering fire to which the Dutch hotly answered. The outcome of this battle became increasingly a French slaughter.

On land, three French attacks against the fort were repulsed and they retired with heavy casualties (150 killed – 200 wounded). In the bay, the French ships threw themselves against the anchored Dutch warships. D’Estrées engaged the Dutch rear-admiral on the Huis de Kruiningen, the largest ship in Binckes’ fleet. Depleted in manpower because of reinforcing the fort, the French successfully boarded her and raised the French flag. Soaring hot flames from a disabled Dutch fireship now spread rapidly through the Dutch ships and engulfed the supply ships, including the Sphera Mundi, causing the horrific deaths of the colonists’ wives, children and slaves. The conflagration forced d’Estrées to abandon his prize.

The fort continued to fire upon the crippled French ships. The French flagship Glorieux was hit in her powder magazine by hotshot and exploded in an immense fireball, taking most of her crew of 445 men down with her. The scene in Rockly Bay now resembled Hell itself. Losses were heavy on both sides, with the French taking the brunt of it. Not one ship in the French fleet escaped heavy damage and many had to be scuttled or abandoned. Only three of the ten Dutch warships survived the battle. Although d’Estrées ordered a cease-fire one hour before sunset, the enraged Dutch continued to fire upon the French fleet well into the night knowing that their families were dead. A further demand for surrender was denied, and the remaining French withdrew to Palmiste Bay, leaving two stuck and beached deep drafted ships of the line behind.


The French claimed a somewhat dubious victory and a humiliated Louis XIV acted swiftly, ordering a new fleet to be immediately equipped. Meanwhile the Dutch fortified Tobago even further and stonework was added to the star fortress making it a formidable bastion of defense.

The new fleet was even larger than before and the French wanted revenge. D’Estrees now commanded a fleet of seven ships of the line, ten to fifteen warships of mid to smaller size/frigates and between five to six thousand men. Along with this fleet was a large flotilla of French Buccaneers that joined the fleet when it arrived in the Caribbean.

The battle began fiercely as both sides engaged one another with withering fire. The Dutch were severely undermanned as promised reinforcements were on their way but had not yet arrived. Having learned from his mistakes previous, this time d’Estrees attacked the fort only from landward side.

As the French guns opened fire on 12 December to a fierce Dutch reply, the celebrated French engineer de Coombes placed mortars in saps at advantageous positions. Patiently adjusting their high-arched fire into the center of the Dutch fortress. The first of this new type of large fireball casing overshot and the second fell short. However, the third mortar round landed upon the littered path to the gunpowder supply as Binckes and his staff were having lunch directly above the powder magazine.

The immense resulting explosion killed Binckes, his staff and half the garrison. In the ensuing confusion, the French seized the fort and the remaining Dutch ships. In the days after they destroyed the fortifications, the surrounding plantations and homes, and captured the inhabitants. D’Estrées then departed for Martinique. A very anti-climactic battle and victory in view of the earlier one. Once again Tobago was abandoned.

In an interesting side story to this. D’Estrees next target was the Dutch capital of their new world colonies – Curacao. The Dutch must have had karma on their side at this point. In an almost David and Goliath type of story, the French followed the spotted Dutch to their doom. The Dutch captains in small frigates knew what they were doing and the French took the bait. Against the advice of his lowly navigator and his naval officers, d’Estrees gave chase. The grand French fleet in all of its magnificent splendor followed the fleeing Dutch warships into a fog.

In one of the greatest disasters of French Naval History, the great and majestic French ships of the line followed – one after another into the fog as each tore out their own bottoms upon the great reef at Las Aves. The first ships to hit the reef fired cannons to warn the ones behind that they had met with disaster, but this only made the subsequent ships believe that the ships ahead were engaged with the enemy and they continued to follow those ahead into the fog and their ultimate disaster. Only the smaller ships survived. They did what they could to remove the survivors and went for help – but by the time the relief and salvage ships arrived, over 3,000 Frenchmen had perished on the reef.

Many have thought that it was Dutch Buccaneers/Privateers that lured the French onto the shoals – others have said that it was French Buccaneers that did the most initially to save the stranded Frenchmen – and many more would have perished if not for their efforts. This is one of the reasons I named our website here the name that I did.

As in the case of so many stories like this, d’Estrees escaped harm. When he returned to France he was decorated as a hero and promoted. I actually have written a short story about this and the aftermath into the admiral’s old age. It’s called “The Madness of Admiral d’Estrees” and will be published here at the reef when I finish the Piet Heyn story.

So now that you know the history, let me tell you about the docu-drama. I have made inquiries to the board of tourism at Tobago about the film because years went into its planning and production. It appears it may have been shown on television there, but I am not altogether certain that it is finished even though it looks to have been made between 2012 and 2013. It does appear a little on the low budget side, but then what can you expect. They made a good effort and it looks pretty darned good. I for one am looking forward to seeing it. It was produced by Sky Vision Tobago 1677 and the CGI work was done by 422 South http://422.com/work/tobago-1677

Here’s some videos:

A site called Ocean’s Discovery seems to be marketing/sponsoring the movie and other similar offerings but they have no way to buy it or watch it from their site: <a
Ocean’s Discovery Tobago 1677
href=”http://www.oceansdiscovery.com/page1/page18/page18.html”>Ocean’s Discovery

I did get an email back from that Sky Vision site. Apparently they send you a code to watch it at a “slot time”. Not sure I understand but I will update everyone as I continue to try to see this movie and my discoveries of how one accomplishes it.

One more tempting tidbit…..over twenty contemporary wrecks have been discovered in that bay. Archeologists believe that there may be more than a million artifacts down there. I think Tobago should command our attention! They are just getting started and who knows what they will find. I think I may go to Tobago this year.

I like to think that when you read our offerings at Buccaneer’s Reef, you leave knowing something significant that you didn’t before.

A taut of rum now for us all.



Commentary of the Week:





Getting more out of your gaming experience by using your imagination and getting into character…

I’m doing something a little different here today and writing an article instead of a visual offering. EDITED WITH ADDENDUM 23 FEBRUARY 2015

For years one of the ways I’ve been able to enjoy my video games the most is to get into character. In fact if one really thinks about this, the game is more of a visual aid to your own imagination than the opposite. One of the reasons I so encourage learning history, is so that your mind can fill in details that the game might miss. In fact, one could say that my whole development of the ERAs mod is based mostly upon that reasoning – hence all of the detail.

So what things govern my gameplay? I have had friends tell me that they really love playing the part of the black-hearted pirate because it allows them to be someone they are not in real life. They can release their frustration through robbery, murder and escape….actions that would get them killed or put in prison if they were to do these things in the real world. I wonder what psychiatrists would have to say about this? In my mind if one plays this way – it is in fact in some shadowy way, something of an extension of theirself. I’m theorizing now and not trying to insult anyone. The truth is that I have never played this way – and I actually mean to sometime – even though I’ve been playing these types of games for decades now.

As for me, I play as an extension of myself. I take on a persona/personality that I personally “like” and would want to be…. In a way an archetypal hero – someone I might admire from history – OR, the person I would be if I could suddenly transport myself in a time machine back to the Golden Age. In a manner of speaking our wonderful little video game here IS indeed a kind of time machine.

So what are some of the things that I do as this hero type. I always pay my debts. I usually let prisoners go – with parole as my gamesmanship stipulation during my conversation with the enemy officers. I usually let captured captains go instead of turn them over to the governors for ransom. I NEVER sell slaves. I always ask if they want to join me. If not, I let them go. I will take this so far as to even reject valuable cargoes in favor of human life if the decision has to be made to jettison something before we can get underway after a battle or an enemy ship has been sunk. If I am overloaded, I will direct sail to the nearest island before I dump them from my cargo next to a beach so that they have a fighting chance at survival.

OK some of you are saying that these are just digits on a plasma screen and that it isn’t real. Well my friends….if I am role playing, then for that time, I am that person – so in my own imagination, these are not just digits and pixels. They are people and I need to accord myself with the same honor and dignity as if I were in the same situations in real life.

This can lead to some rather fun ethical conundrums. What if you are a beginning player just staring out and you are desperate to make enough cash to get a new sword or some antidote or a new ship? Will I rob from homes and businesses? I admit that I have done this, but my gamesmanship honesty is so acute that I remember these places and when I’ve made my fortune I will come back and leave an even better item or coins worth more than the item I took. This can even be dangerous because if you get caught they think you’re robbing them – even though you already did earlier and they didn’t know it.

I never run from a fight on land. The only reason I might run at sea is because I am way too outclassed and need to think of my ship and crew before glory, gain, or hate.

I also avoid missions that are unsavory like killing beggars or smugglers and I will never take a mission against my own chosen homeland in the game – this can lead to some interesting fights when your jilted accomplice won’t take no for an answer. Last, I won’t use ships, armor, or weapons that are out of character for the RPC I am playing. Even if the sword or ship might be better, I envision it in my mind and I know as a Dutchman I would hate to use this dirty galleon as my own flagship – even if it might be faster and mount more guns than my ship – its out of character. My guy would never want “this or that” kind of ship.

In the “How’s your game Going” topic on our forum here, I plan to talk about this some more. Mainly because I want to hear how you guys play the game, or if you have any little tricks or quirks like I was just describing with myself.


I have thought a lot about this this week and Hammer and I talked about it. I have been playing my current character a little differently than usual. I decided to be an opportunist. So I still never go to war against my own faction, however, now that I take smuggling missions, if they attack me I will take or destroy the coastal patrol vessels sent to stop me. This is actually a pretty good way to get some nice ships in your fleet. Also being in character I can’t allow anyone to escape to let my government know what happened there. So I guess I’m beginning my descent into the dark side.

I had also talked about how choice of vessel comes into play and that my persona would favor some ships over others beyond my own personal tastes. This also goes towards choice of weapons and items as well. I have made this more poignant with the little religious items I’ve added. If you’re a Spaniard you might want the little Catholic medals and statuettes, but if a Hollander or Englishman you will probably discard them.

I also didn’t talk about the path forward. What if there are two factions battling it out up ahead. As a small time pirate I might run from the fight, but as a naval captain allied with one side I will go into the fray to help – even if I were on my way somewhere else to some other thing and the battle is inconvenient – for the sake of “gamesmanship” and getting into my character, I will fight anyway – even if I am outmatched.




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