Ching Shih

Ching Shih

Ching Shih Ruled the South China Sea

Upon the remains of his tattered ship, a young Chinese sailor blinked in disbelief. Once a member of the decorated Chinese Navy, he now remained the defeated sole survivor of a dastardly battle with the Red Flag Fleet. But how could it be? The Red Flag were a group of pirates, led by the female madame Ching Shih!

Little did this young sailor know that Ching was a master of strategy and the art of war. But she wasn’t always an infamous outlaw– as a matter of fact, Ching once worked as a nameless face aboard a floating brothel that serviced other pirates traveling through the South China sea. It was here that Ching Shih learned the art of deception and negotiation, something that aided her later in her pirate career.

Ching was noticed one day by a famed Chinese pirate named Zheng Yi. Ching had garnished a reputation as a shrewd businesswoman, a desirable trait to a wealthy pirate like Zheng Yi. But Zheng found himself falling for more than just her financial savvy, for her charm and silver tongue entranced him into immediately offering her his hand in marriage! Ching gladly accepted, on one condition: that she would be granted co-captain of his massive fleet. Ching explained that due to her trade, she had learned secrets about her most wealthy and politically connected clients, giving Zheng significant leverage. He agreed without question. The two were destined to become pirate legends, ruling over the Red Flag Fleet with power and glory!

Or were they? For only six years into the marriage, Zheng passed under mysterious circumstances. His death was devastating to Ching, who had never dealt with such loss before. But despite her pain, Ching remained strong and stony-faced to the rest of the world. With her husband being gone, it meant that all of his assets were in limbo. But Ching was determined to never again be a nameless girl in a brothel. She gathered up all her might and declared herself the official captain of the Red Flag Fleet, now in control of thousands of vessels and the men that manned them. It was taboo for female pirates to be captains back in Ching’s time, but she was quick to garner the respect she needed — and became one of the most powerful pirate rulers of her time.

Ching demanded all the pirates underneath her command follow a strict code of conduct to keep them in line. Most pirates obeyed without question; the ones who disrespected their superiors ended up brutally beheaded! Ching also stated that taking women captive was strictly forbidden and would be met with death. Although she had a great deal of wealth and power, she could never forget the days working alongside her other girls. Under Ching’s rule, The Red Flag Fleet became undefeated. Not even the Chinese Navy could match her strength, with their own boats ripped to shreds. Her notoriety and capability as a ruler became legendary, even permeating popular culture today.

Logan Thompson

Logan Thompson


Logan Thompson is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. Her credits include numerous films and award-winning games. She loves the excitement of video games and being able to choose your own destiny! When she isn’t writing, you can find her curled up on the couch with her cat (and best friend) Juliet.

Launched on Kickstarter!

box for pirate party women of the high seas card game. 2-4 players ages 10+
Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas

Ching Shih is one of six vibrant, diverse, historic women pirate captains with special powers in this new pirate card game for 2-4 players.

Race to collect sets of cards by suit that include a captain and crew or sets of 3-of-a-kind. Plunder, pillage and raid from other players to take the most pirate booty to win. There’s plenty of adventure, period ships, tresure and mermaid wild cards.  Just beware the Kraken!


Did you enjoy this sea story about a legendary women pirate captain? Which pirate captains would you like to hear about?  Let us know.

Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas has launched on Kickstarter!  Get exclusive first access to the game, game news, sea stories and more.  Subscribe today.


Grace O’Malley

Grace O’Malley

Grace stood on the deck of her ship, pondering her next move. The English frigate sat in the cove of Clew Bay like a beckoning gift, laden with treasures, just waiting to be unwrapped. It was the moonlight that would betray her. She tapped her bottom lip, thinking. “Mulligan!” She called for her first mate. She still had a few tricks left to her and the fog, beautiful and pearly, floating on the water like a delicate obscuring miasma – the fog would grant her enough cover to get to the much larger, more difficult to maneuver ship and give her and her men enough time to harvest the bounty within its groaning hold.

With any luck, it was one of a group of Barks coming back from the Straits of Magellan, laden with goods stolen from the Spanish Main. She grinned a catlike grin as Mulligan strode up to her, bowlegged and quick.

“How do the winds blow tonight, my lady?”

“They blow fair, my Mulligan. Tonight let’s use the shallow draft pinnace. Take Weasel and Sweaty Sean, the Albatross, La Faye, McKee and the cimarrone Leone. And six more, the stronger ones, good with a harquebus. Make sure Leone has his blowgun, but not too much curare! I want no killing! Just enough to paralyze, do you understand?”

“Aye, my lady. I’ll let him know. You’ll be coming, then?”

“Of course. I’ll leave Ian in charge of the Seahorse.”

Mulligan rolled his eyes.

“I know, I know. And take the signaling lantern. I’ll let Cliff the watch know what the signals are. He’ll make the Seahorse ready in case the English frigate has her dander up and wants to use the brass cannon at night, the moon and all – and wrap the oars in worn cloth – the old stuff cook uses for rags, yes? And wear dark clothing. Tell Weasel to take off all his dainty finery. Those earrings, pretty as they are, they’ll catch in the light.”

“Oh, aye. I’ll get the lads ready.”

“And bring the boarding kit, the ladder, pikes, the lot.”

“Already in the pinnace, my lady.”

Grace smiled, and secured her long red hair into a bun behind her head. “Then let’s go lighten the load of our English friends’ pretty cradle.”

It was very late. They had waited until the moon had sunk almost below the edge of the cove’s wall. Grace smelled low tide, the fishy reek of seaweed, the mineral smell of muck and mud and oysters. The smell of home. She stood hunched at the prow of the pinnace and slowly, slowly and quietly, the men rowed silently around the cove wall and there in front of them, its dark shape outlined against the shore, was the English vessel, running at anchor, still in the night. There was no wind, only the creak of the pinnace and the smooth rippling sound as the low sleek boat cut the water towards their prey.

“Quietly now boys, quietly…” Grace whispered.

“Mulligan, the watch! Do you see the watch?”

Mulligan already had the telescope out and was searching the aft of the English frigate. “No, don’t see him yet…wait…there he is.”

“Leone! Are we close enough?

“My lady, he’s too far away. A little closer.”

“Row boys, row to her starboard side. We’ll use the shadows of the cliff wall to help hide us!” She thanked the gods the moon’s crescent light had sunk below the cliff line.

Grace held her breath. Her skin was flushed, her heart was beating fast and never before had she felt more alive, with the marine air teasing along her bare forearms and the feel of her blood hot in her body, her eyes, the lust for gold singing her name. If they could just stay low and quiet and dark, so that the watch didn’t see them. With any luck the watch would get careless. With any luck, Leone’s dart would strike cleanly and Weasel could scamper up the side first to secure the English decks.

Mulligan hissed for the men to stop rowing. Leone was signaling that he had a clear shot. Grace held her breath, watching the enormous cimarrone stand up and take aim at the small dark shape that was standing, stretching….she heard the intake of breath from Leone, then the forceful explosion of air and the punk! of the dart as it flew its invisible needle-like path towards the watch. For a moment there was no sound but the sea slapping against the sides of the low pinnace. Then they all heard it…the sound of a man crumpling to his knees, then the final thud. Grace turned to her men, smiling a wolfish grin.

“Well done, Leone! Now let’s go get our share, boys!”

They brought the pinnace up alongside the great ship and Weasel and Mulligan took pikes and lifted the rope ladder up and onto the railing of the ship. Weasel went first, small and light, quick as his namesake. Grace went second, then Mulligan with the signal lamp. The rest of the crew followed.

Grace peered through the darkness. There was only one lamp left alight for the watch on the port bow; she walked slowly, a harquebus in one hand, brought up by the crew, and in her other hand, her broadsword.

When all her men were armed and ready, they got in order; Weasel first, the quickest to find the captain’s quarters; then Mulligan to secure below decks, to keep the enlisted men from interfering for as long as possible; the rest of the men to threaten the other officers, and Grace to parlay with the captain to let him know he was being relieved of his burden of goods.

The captain and his officers must have had an officers’ party that night. Hard to wake and dulled by drink, Mulligan, Grace and Weasel locked them in their quarters without much fuss and the rest of her crew detained the enlisted men, who shuffled their feet and looked sullen and angry, but impotent the lot of them without the officers’ direction.

Grace took Mulligan down into the hold to take stock of the goods. In the glow of the lantern’s light, they found small barrels of honey, bundles of sarsaparilla, and bags of dried maize. There was colorful woven cloth, sacks of cocoa, and barrels of Spanish sherry and two of Scottish whiskey,

Mulligan let out a shout. She left off counting the casks of honey and came where he stood. He lifted the edge of a canvas cloth back to reveal the bars of gold and silver beneath. He whistled low and Grace raised her eyebrows. “I’ll drink to this,” she whispered.

There were two crates of cotton in which were hidden two large sacks of rough cut emeralds and diamonds, and several small sacks of raw pearls that caught the lantern light and gleamed with a lustre like moonlight.

There was also ambergris, several gilt scimitars with rubies encrusted in their pommels, salted duck and two barrels of dried tobacco leaves.

“Well, Mulligan. I think we found one of the fattest oysters yet,” she breathed.

“My lady, we have indeed.”

H. M. Sanders

H. M. Sanders


Helen MacKay Sanders is the author of The Widowed Warlock and The Ring Maker series for Laughing Tiger Publishing.  Visit  to read more stories.  She lives on the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. When she isn’t writing fantasy novels, she can be heard playing the bagpipes.

box for pirate party women of the high seas card game. 2-4 players ages 10+
Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas

Grace O’Malley is one of six powerful women pirates in the game, inspired by real historical women pirates.

Race to collect sets of cards and score the most pirate booty to win.  There’s plenty of adventure, period ships, treasure, and mermaid wildcards.  Just beware the Kraken!


Now on Kickstarter!

Did you enjoy this sea story about a legendary women pirate captains? Which pirate captain would you like to hear about?

Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas has launched on Kickstarter!  Check it out now.

Follow along by subscribing below to get first access to the game, game news and more!


Can You Talk Like A Pirate?

Can You Talk Like A Pirate?

We are getting ready for Talk Like A Pirate Day on Sunday, September 19, 2021!  Let’s have some fun brushing up on some pirate terms and pirate lingo — savvy?

Take this fun quiz and see (no punctuation, please).  The person with the most correct answers wins! Include your email address for a chance to win a stylish Seaport Games die-cut sticker!  One entry per person/email address. The contest ends September 19, 10pm Pacific Time.


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Launched on Kickstarter!

Launched on Kickstarter!

Make this game a reality!

Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas card game has launched on Kickstarter.

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