- Words by Jeff Hiltz pho­tos by Cindy Hiltz Off-Road Motorcycles · Motorcycles · Scotia, CA · Wolverine · The Rock · Facebook · Youtube · General Purpose · Mississippi · Microsoft · United States of America · Springhill · Springhill · Nova Scotia · Environment Canada · Natural Resources Canada · Natural Resources Canada · Halifax · F.C. Halifax Town · Maritimes · Charlottetown · Miramichi · Digby · Saint John · St. John Knits International Inc. · Breton

When I was 19 years old, thirty some odd years ago, I was camp­ing with my girl­friend when an­other camper who had had too much to drink, came over and caused an al­ter­ca­tion where I re­ceived a sucker punch, which cut and blinded me in my left eye. I have worn an eye patch ever since, and that started my ca­reer as a pi­rate!

Through­out the years ev­ery­one al­ways called me “Patch” or “the Pi­rate”. Once I got the off-road bug, ev­ery­one who called me “the Pi­rate” also called my Jeep “The Pi­rate Ship”. It is a nicely built 2003 TJ run­ning a locked Scout

d44 front with 5:13s, RCV shafts, rear XJ d44 also locked with Al­loyUSA shafts, Rock Krawler X-Fac­tor long arms with coilovers, and a d300/231 dou­bler on 37” tires for a crawl ra­tio of 155:1.

In 2007 I started a Face­book group creat­ing one of the first Jeep and Off-Road groups. It was just a group for my YouTube chan­nel named Pi­rate Jeep Pro­duc­tions, where I in­vited peo­ple to share wheel­ing pics, videos, and fun­nies.

Fast-for­ward to 2014, when a few mem­bers of the group sug­gested we start an off-road club. Pi­rate Jeep Pro­duc­tions didn’t seem like a good name for a club, so we ran a few names around and I came up with the Pi­rate Off-Road Na­tion. We all got a kick out of it when we re­al­ized

the acro­nym was P.O.R.N.

Soon mem­bers said that we needed de­cals, so my wife Cindy (girl­friend at the time) sug­gested we in­vest in a plot­ter to make our own de­cals. When mem­bers started ask­ing for shirts, we dis­cov­ered that we could get a heat press, and cut heat pressed vinyl in our plot­ter - then hood­ies, then hats, and the Na­tion took off.

Be­fore long, Cindy had to leave her job as a para­le­gal to queen the Pi­rate Off-Road Na­tion. I al­ways say that it was meant to be. I had left work a few years pre­vi­ous to care for my 83-year-old mother who be­came bedrid­den due to MS. Not hav­ing the heart to move her into a nurs­ing home, I left work to pro­vide her with full time care. Times were tight.

We de­cided that we should of­fer a nice mem­ber­ship card with mem­ber­ship pur­chase, and that I should work on get­ting of­froad shops and off-road re­lated busi­nesses to be­come spon­sors. They would of­fer our mem­bers dis­counts in ex­change for pro­mo­tion and ad­ver­tis­ing in our Face­book group.

Here we are cel­e­brat­ing our 4th “Ar­mada”, with over 3600 paid mem­bers around the globe, chap­ters in ev­ery prov­ince across Canada and sev­eral in the States. We look for­ward to our Aus­tralian friends start­ing our new­est chap­ter ‘down un­der’ this fall! All from a very small ru­ral town called Springhill, Nova Sco­tia. As some­one once said “Nova Sco­tia Owned, In­ter­na­tion­ally Loved.”

As Cap­tain of the Pi­rate Of­fRoad Na­tion I am very proud to pro­mote our Na­tion as a safe and re­spon­si­ble off-road or­ga­ni­za­tion. We pro­mote the Tread Lightly prin­ci­ples; any­one who thinks that they can drink al­co­hol or do il­licit drugs on the trail WILL be forced to walk the plank, as we have zero tol­er­ance to­ward any il­le­gal be­hav­iour. That in­cludes stay­ing out of our wa­ter­ways and pro­mot­ing our sport in a pos­i­tive light.

The proud­est mo­ment of my off-road ca­reer oc­curred when I re­ceived a call from En­vi­ron­ment Canada and the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources. They had been fol­low­ing our open-to-the-pub­lic Face­book group and told me that the Pi­rate Off-Road Na­tion and its mem­bers are pi­o­neers in the sport, pro­mot­ing safe and re­spon­si­ble off-road­ing in Canada!

That, my friends is a brief his­tory of the Pi­rate Off-Road Na­tion. When I’m not at the helm of the Na­tion, you can find me walk­ing the wa­ter­front of Hal­i­fax, where I also work as a Pi­rate re-en­ac­tor with the Pi­rates of Hal­i­fax (Pi­rates for Hire). We are hired for fes­ti­vals, cor­po­rate events, par­ties and we just fin­ished up tour­ing all the last sum­mer with Ren­dezvous ‘17, the Tall Ships Fes­ti­val, which brought us from port to port through­out the Maritimes, in­clud­ing Char­lot­te­town, Mi­ramichi, Digby, St. John, and Syd­ney in Cape Bre­ton.

It’s a pi­rate’s life for me! #peacelove­and­piracy #pi­ra­te­of­froad­na­tion

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