Sea Captain Held Hostage by Somali Pirates Gets an Unexpected Flashback

Well, this is awkward.

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Sami Sarkis / Getty Images

Well, this is awkward.

Members of the Parkham Women’s Institute in southwest England decided to dress up like pirates for a recent talk with a former sea captain. Sure, that sounds pretty benign, but what they didn’t realize is that he’d been held hostage by Somali pirates. Eek.

According to the North Devon Journal, the members of the organization thought Captain Colin Darch would be stopping by to discuss piracy in general, not the harrowing personal tale of his 47 days as a hostage in 2008.

(MORE: Navy Looking to Use Helicopter Drones to Hunt Pirates)

Luckily, the blunder didn’t seem to bother the former captain or dredge up painful memories of those weeks at sea. “Of course I didn’t take offence or mind. It was more like the Pirates of Penzance,” he told the newspaper. He made sure to scan the costumes — which included skull-and-crossbones hats, neckerchiefs and and plenty of eyepatches — and choose his favorite. (He settled on a get-up that included a toy parrot.)

Darch, 75, was eventually freed after the owners of the Danish boat he’d been working on paid approximately $450,000 in ransom. He’s now safe and sound, and apparently still has a sense of humor given his reaction to the ladies’ costumes. So in the end, everyone got a good (but still pretty awkward) laugh about it, and the Parkham Women’s Institute seems to have learned its lesson.

“He was such a good sport,” the group’s treasurer, Steph George, told the BBC. “But we won’t be dressing up again for a while.”

MORE: American Hostage Deaths: A Case of Pirate Anxiety