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‘Pirates’ landing draws crowd to Kaneohe Bay

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North Shore resident Juni Calaro and his children Christian, 13, right, and Angel, 9, were among the many would-be stargazers checking out the ship Queen Anne's Revenge yesterday at Heeia Pier in Kaneohe.
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The ship Black Pearl, from "Pirates of the Caribbean," was moored at Heeia Pier since July 24 and has been filming on location nearly everyday since, attracting hundreds of fans. Above, paddler Keawe Long, 14, is silhouetted with the Black Pearl ship in the background yesterday at Heeia Pier in Kaneohe.

So where does a waggish, perpetually tipsy pirate captain and his hygienically challenged band of high-seas brigands go after they’ve reached world’s end?

Kaneohe Bay, of course.

As ably documented by local cine philes and YouTube posters, the good ship Queen Anne’s Revenge—the featured vessel in the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides"—has been anchored off Heeia Pier for the last week as film crews continue work on the latest installment in Disney’s multibillion-dollar film franchise.

The fully functional ship, which sits in stark, dark relief against the pale green waters of the bay and the mist-shrouded Koolau Mountain range to the left, has attracted thousands of camera-wielding "Pirates" fans to the site over the last week.

Yesterday was no different, as a steady stream of locals and tourists poured into the small, gated corral that serves as the official viewing area.

"Pirates" die-hards Juni and Rayna Calaro drove in from the North Shore with their three children—Christian, 13; Angel, 9; and Faith, 5—just to see the ship.

"This is just incredible," said Juni Calaro, as he took in the massive skeleton that decorates the ship’s bow. "We’ve seen all the movies. We rode ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ at Disneyland. We love all of it."

Kaneohe resident Joan Marliave-Kruse and her nephew Steven Marliave were on hand for the second day in a row.

While the production schedule called for only stuntmen to be working yesterday, 10-year-old Steven remained hopeful that star Johnny Depp might yet make an appearance.

Depp, who plays the boozy but charming Capt. Jack Sparrow, delighted fans several times over the last week by stopping to shake hands and sign autographs as he arrived.

"I’m going to get his autograph," Steven said, "and his phone number!"

Marliave-Kruse said the production is a welcome development for the local economy. "This is great for the islands," she said. "It’s good for tourism and it’s creating a lot of jobs. It’s an exciting time."

The production has caused a stir in the area, with drivers slowing to get a peek from the road and scores of people walking along Kamehameha Highway from the parking lot of nearby Heeia State Park.

Location assistant Dustin Gomes, who stood amiable guard outside the viewing area yesterday, said the crowd swells to upward of 500 people at night.

"It’s like a Michael Jackson concert," said Gomes, who formerly worked on the set of ABC’s "Lost." "You’ve got grown men screaming ‘Johnny!’"

The temporary attraction has also been good for vendors at the pier, who said they’ve experienced a bump in sales over the past week.

Tom and Rene Abbott of Kaneohe interrupted their weekly bike ride yesterday to see what all the fuss was about.

"It’s a big attraction," said Rene Abbott. "It’s exciting that it’s here. I just wish we could get closer."

The Abbotts said they’ve seen the first three "Pirates" films and are eagerly awaiting the next. "Of course!" Abbott said, laughing.

Kenny Bochat, 27, of Ewa said producers made a wise decision in picking Kaneohe Bay to film.

"It’s a great-looking spot," he said. "From out in the water, it’s very secluded-looking. It’s the perfect spot to make this kind of movie."

Bochat declared the massive pirate ship "pretty cool."

In real life, Queen Anne’s Revenge was the flagship of English pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. Originally named the Concorde, the ship was taken from the English by the French during Queen Anne’s War in 1711 and later used as a slave ship.

According to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, Blackbeard captured the ship in 1717 and used it in his infamous blockade of the port of Charleston, S.C., in May 1718.

The ship ran aground in Beaufort Inlet, N.C., shortly after. Blackbeard and his crew are thought to have made off with whatever ill-gotten treasure the ship contained.

"On Stranger Tides," based on a novel by Tim Powers, picks up on the Blackbeard legend as Jack Sparrow finds his quest for the Fountain of Youth (revealed at the end of "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End") complicated when a former love, Blackbeard’s daughter, played by Penelope Cruz, forces Sparrow aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge. Ian McShane, who voiced the character Capt. Hook in "Shrek the Third," plays Blackbeard.

This is the second time the film series has used Hawaii as a location. Portions of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" were filmed on Maui and Molokai.


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