Whidbey mariner plays pirate aboard Lady Washington

Whidbey resident John Aydelotte portrayed Blackbeard for a documentary about pirates. - photo courtesy of John Aydelotte
Whidbey resident John Aydelotte portrayed Blackbeard for a documentary about pirates.
— image credit: photo courtesy of John Aydelotte

Capt. John Aydelotte is well known in the Puget Sound region for rescuing boaters and their boats.

But a couple of weeks ago, the North Whidbey resident and owner of Marine Services armed himself with swords and a flintlock pistol and commanded the pirate crew of the Lady Washington to attack another vessel.

Against his better nature, Aydelotte played the part of Blackbeard, the notorious pirate. A British production company was filming a new documentary, tentatively titled “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Real Story,” with the tall ship Lady Washington.

“It was an extravagant adventure, one of the better sails I can recall,” Aydelotte said. “We were supposed to look angry, so they kept telling us to stop smiling.”

Aydelotte has been involved with the Lady Washington, the official State Ship, since it was built in Aberdeen in 1989. He obviously has a deep affection for the 72-foot ship, which is a reproduction of original 1780s boat, and has sailed on it all over the West Coast. A blog for the Gray’s Harbor Historical Seaport described Aydelotte as “a longtime friend of the Lady Washington.”

In the past, Aydelotte has helped production crews filming the Lady Washington. The ship has appeared in a number of movies and TV features, including all three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies and “Star Trek: Generations,” according to the historical seaport.

But this time, the filmmakers focused on Aydelotte. With his big black beard, the not-so-ancient mariner looks perfect for the part.

The filming took place June 2 and 3 near Everett. The documentary is being made for the Smithsonian Channel, BBC Worldwide and the History Channel. Aydelotte said it will probably run sometime this fall.

In the meantime, the captain urges folks to go on a battle sail or an adventure sail on board the Lady Washington. He said it’s simply amazing that people have such opportunities and it’s an experience they won’t soon forget. The boats will be in Coupeville Aug. 14 and 15.

“One of the most magical things about her,” he said, “is that she draws to her the best kind of people. Really nifty folks. ... It’s an amazing thing to be associated with.”

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