Skullduggery is after all, skullduggery. So, having been permanently declared a pirate by the International Maritime Organization, Cincinnati's beloved Capt. Alan Bernstein must fly the "Jolly Roger" flag on The Belle of Cincinnati and all ships who fly under her flag.

It's a great story, made better by the storytelling skills of the pirate himself, Capt. Al of BB Riverboats, alias "Calico Jack." He settles back in his seat overlooking the mighty Ohio and asks if the writer would like the 20-minute version or the full two-hour treatment. The writer wishes she had more time.

He admits to the facts, or most of them. Years back, he boarded, along with four loyal crew members, The Belle Of Louisville to reclaim the trophy awarded for the pre-Kentucky Derby steamboat race. The 225-foot Belle of Cincinnati won, he says, fair and square. "The Mayor of Louisville convinced the judges to disqualify The Belle of Cincinnati. We were stunned. How could they?" he still asks. The crew of The Belle of Louisville took the trophy "” a set of antlers "” and ran off the stage, according to Calico Jack, uh, Capt. Al.

It left his crew "publicly humiliated, dismayed, shocked and certainly confused." They had no choice but to wait till cover of night to reclaim it.

There was an uproar, even a "trial." Then the proclamation from the maritime law group which declared that Capt. Al "did piratically" seize the antlers and "that he further took to the high seas ... to make his escape to the pirate haven known as Cincinnati, 30 leagues distant from the scene of his wretched crimes."

It's history, but the punishment stands. "That's why our boats fly the Jolly Roger. I may add, proudly. To mark our victory," Capt. Al says, smiling as he looks forward to a rematch this spring. They call the Derby the fastest two minutes in sports. The steamboat race is the slowest two hours in sports. But the crew of The Belle of Cincinnati has its eye on the prize.