Barry Clifford and JFK Jr.’s True Cape Cod Pirate Tale Is Becoming a Movie

The film will explore how the pair discovered the Whydah Galley, the world’s first authenticated pirate ship.

Barry Clifford

Photo by Steven Senne / AP

Hollywood is bringing a true Cape Cod pirate tale to the big screen.

Whydah Productions announced on Monday that it has acquired the film rights to underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his first mate John F. Kennedy Jr.’s story of finding and salvaging the Whydah Galley, the world’s first authenticated pirate ship. A violent storm caused the vessel to sink off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717 while carrying $400 million of gold and silver.

A fisherman uncle first told Clifford about the legendary ship as a boy, but he didn’t seriously start looking for the sunken treasure until he was an adult. Although he was struggling to raise a family, Clifford decided to embark on finding the Whydah along with JFK Jr., his diving buddy. After years of searching through the Cape’s shark infested waters, the pair finally made a discovery, locating the ship’s bell engraved with the words “The Whydah Gally 1716” in 1985.

Since then, Clifford has salvaged more than 200,000 pieces of historic artifacts from the watery wreckage. Many of his findings are on display at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth.

In addition to Clifford and JFK Jr.’s tale, the film will feature the story of “Black Sam” Bellamy, the captain of the Whydah pirate ship.

Casey Sherman, author of The Finest Hours and Boston Strong, is producing the project with partner Ted Collins. Clifford will also serve as a producer.