THE HIGH SEAS: Lucky & the Jolly Roger

In centuries past, the fear of pirates was always uppermost in the thoughts of Dutch merchant skippers sailing their heavy-laden East Indiamen along the coasts of Africa. No such grim foreboding clutched the heart of Johannes Van Delft, master of the tiny (265 tons) Dutch coaster Combinatie, as he put out of Tangier Harbor into the Strait of Gibraltar, bound for Malta, one day last month, laden with $100,000 worth of U.S. cigarettes. It was the 20th century; the sky was blue overhead; ten kegs of good Holland beer were stowed below,...

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