Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of fun

Pirate’s Puzzle escape room is a true hidden treasure.

Captain Blackshear's treasure is hidden in a secret spot somewhere in the room. — Lucas Thors

Ever wonder what it’s like to search for a pirate’s lost treasure? Kris Zylich created the Pirate’s Puzzle room when he noticed that summer visitors were searching for something fun to do besides go to the beach or hang out at the bars. He knew the trend of escape rooms (especially themed ones) was beginning to increase in popularity. Zylich wanted to incorporate a nautical theme and a little bit of Island history. “What’s more Martha’s Vineyard than pirates and whaling?” said Zylich.

Zylich said tons of families roaming through Edgartown find themselves wandering into his Edgartown shop, the Beach Boutique in Nevin Square, in search of some recommendations for enjoyable activities. “I kept encountering people who wanted something different besides the everyday Island pastimes,” Zylich said. So he set up the Pirate’s Puzzle room in the basement of his shop.

Escape rooms and puzzle rooms both have a similar goal — solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objective. The only difference is in an escape room, you try to escape, whereas in a puzzle room, you are usually looking for a concealed object that is hidden behind a wall, furniture, or secret trap door.

Oftentimes, these rooms come with an objective sheet that provides a detailed plotline and sets up a narrative for the game to follow.

In this case, the objective sheet is printed on imitation parchment paper that looks like it’s straight out of the dingy hull of a sunken galleon. It tells the story of Captain Samuel Blackshear, a drunken pirate with a lust for gold and whale oil who hid his treasure before he was arrested by Sheriff Drew Holm.

The goal is to find Blackshear’s treasure, hidden somewhere inside the room. It costs $25 per person to play, and If players solve the puzzle in under 45 minutes, they can each choose from a number of prizes in the upstairs boutique.

Several comments on tripadvisor.com — a popular review website for rentals, restaurants, and activities — praise the Pirate’s Puzzle escape room for the kind and helpful staff, as well as the uniquely enjoyable experience for couples or families.

Toni G commented, “Pirate’s Puzzle Escape Room is a must-go on the Island. I went there with my friend, and we definitely recommend it to others, it will be a fun experience for couples, groups of friends, and families with children.”

Another reviewer, Andrew Warner, wrote, I had heard of escape rooms before, but had not tried one yet, so we decided to give it a try on our family trip to Martha’s Vineyard. My kids are 10 and 7, and along with my wife we all had a lot of fun working together to solve the clues. We solved the puzzle with about 5 minutes left, and got to choose a bracelet from the gift shop as a prize.”

All reviewers on TripAdvisor gave Pirate’s Puzzle five-star reviews.

Although Samuel Blackshear didn’t actually patrol the waters off Martha’s Vineyard, pillaging shipping vessels and harassing whaling ship captains, much of the Island history contained in the objective sheet is factual.

The story ties in with the Wampanoag history of the Vineyard (called Noepe or “land amid the streams” by the native people), as well as the English discovery of Martha’s Vineyard by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, and subsequent naming of the small Island, some say, after his daughter Martha.

The theme of whaling is an apt one, considering Martha’s Vineyard was a huge part of the whaling industry, and was brought to prominence in part by the many whaling ships that made port in the Island’s harbors.

Zylich is currently in the process of building another puzzle room to accommodate the more serious escape artists and puzzle room aficionados. This room will be inside a pirate ship that Zylich is constructing now. “It takes a really long time to build the hull of the ship, but it should be ready for the next busy season,” Zylich said.

The pirate ship will be a step up in difficulty from the original Pirate’s Puzzle, with more hidden clues and brain busters for excited players to solve. He hopes to have the new pirate ship puzzle up and running by spring 2019.

Zylich said he plans on advertising more next year, and wants to get the word out that escape rooms can be a good way to have fun with a group of friends; whether it’s for a bachelorette party, a birthday, or just to break up the monotony of beach, sleep, repeat.

The puzzle game will not be open during the winter season, but Zylich said maybe in the future he will try to open the room on off-season weekends and see how it goes.

Visit the Beach Boutique website for more information, or call 508-627-7607