Sunday, May 6, 2007

Pirate of the Carribean

(Roatan Island, Honduras) Pirates have been raiding Roatan Island since the early 1600s. The first to invade were the Spanish. Then the British. This time, it's a Czech. Jiøí Máška is a modern-day pirate if ever I met one. He is conquering the island with a brewery.

A well-respected artist ( whose art was not consistent with Communist thought in his home country, Máška left Czech in the early 1990s in order to develop his art. He went first to the United States to continue his art studies, then travelled all over the world. He eventually made his way down to Roatan.

Sample of Moska's artwork.

In each of these places, he thought the beer was terrible. While many people might have had this same thought, he decided he needed to do something about it. Roatan Brewery ( is now up and running with two lovely beers, Bay Islands Pilsner and Bay Islands Ale. I can vouch that they are both delicious.

The brewery itself is a replica of a 15th century Spanish fortress. Máška has built it himself in less than 2 years, high on a hill in the east end of the island. Windmills and solar panels provide the power for the brewery. In order to produce these natural beers that follow a 600 year old recipe, he imports everything, from the equipment to the hops, yeast and malt, from Europe. The entire brewing cycle takes about a month to complete. If you stop by, Máška will give you a tour of the place and regale you with stories, only after he provides you with a freshly poured beer.

Getting a taste of the homebrew (nice antique motorcycle!)

All his beer drinking has inspired some pretty lofty ideas. Máška has, among other serious adventures, crashed a 4-seater airplane and survived. Later he sank a boat he brought over from Czech in the deep waters off the north coast of Honduras, and was adrift for 16 hours. With no flotation device. Eventually he was picked up by local fishermen.

These events have only fueled the passion for his latest endeavour. What next? A pirate ship, of course! The Black Pearl project ( is creating an exact replica of the pride of Henry Morgan's fleet. Henry Morgan was one of the most famous pirates of the Carribean, who built the original Black Pearl off the coast of Honduras in 1667. Máška is not only building this ship using the same materials used back then, but is also building it in the same place it was originally built. Details include 6 bronze functional cannons, handmade canvases and ropes, a handmade metal-tipped anchor, and also the sheathing impregnated by hot blood from oxen. The ship is designed for tourism, and will be ready for its maiden voyage in summer of 2007.

What's on the horizon for Captain Máška is beyond anyone's imagination. Perhaps the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria? Ahoy, mateys!

Adventure on,


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