Blackwater Pyrates seek grant recipients

Special to Gannett

As part of the Blackwater Pyrates mission to preserve local maritime heritage, financial grants are being made available to local college students.

Grants are available in two ways.

Cleaning up our waterways is just one service the Blackwater Pyrates perform for the local community.

First, any junior or senior level college student may apply for a $500 book grant. In exchange, they agree to write a brief paper on a topic that focuses on the cultural, social, or marine history of our local area. Secondly, graduate students whose master’s research focuses on any of the aforementioned topics may apply for a $1,500 grant to assist them in their research.

The Blackwater Pyrates have a legacy of giving back to this local community. To that end, each captain of the organization, at the conclusion of his term of service, chooses a legacy project that will better the community. It was Ken Ponsell, who served the Pyrates as Captain Fins Up, whose legacy project involved implementing the scholarship program.

Notable scholarship winners include Andrew Derlikowski, whose Master’s research rediscovered the city of Tampa, a well-storied steamer from the turn of the century, and Andrew Van Slyke, whose work contributed to the Blackwater Maritime Heritage Trail and the discovery of the HMSS Mentor.

Qualified applicants should contact BWP scholarship chairperson Dr. John Kalashian for additional information and to request an application. Kalashian can be reached by email at or by phone at 850-206-2725.