Ahoy! And, trick or treat... if you dare. This brigantine-style boat is brimming with a pirate's treasure haul: pearly white gumballs and candy gold doubloons.
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Maritime legend has it that the Flying Dutchman is a fearsome ghost ship, which never returns to safe harbor and is doomed to sail the seven seas forever. When it floats in from the fog, its appearance to mere mortals is believed to signal imminent disaster. In our carved iteration, it serves as a haunting addition to your front door on Halloween night—rewarding those intrepid trick-or-treaters with candy and other covetable treats.

For this project, choose an oblong pumpkin as the main body of the ship. A jack-be-little pumpkin is etched and skewered atop the mast as a crow's nest (which, in maritime terms, is a structure in the upper part of the main mast that is used as a lookout point). And a small sugar pumpkin is transformed into a swashbuckling pirate donning an eye patch and a tricorn hat (both made of felt).

For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of Halloween pumpkin ideas.


What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Place pumpkin on its side on a flat, stable work surface. Download and print templates. With scissors, cut away excess part of templates. Attach design to pumpkin with masking tape, and trace outline of sails on pumpkin's top half. (Tip: Cut slits around the template and overlap so it conforms to the pumpkin's curved surface.) With a grease pencil, sketch on the main body of the ship including smaller details like portholes and decorative lines. (Tip: Mark lightly with the pencil, and you can remove drawings with acetone.) Remove template, but keep it nearby for reference.

Step 2

Use keyhole saw to carve out sails and top half of ship body; reserve the cutouts. With fleshing tool, remove seeds, stringy pulp, and a thin layer of flesh from inside of pumpkin; remove excess flesh. Carve smaller details (portholes with the hole cutter and decorative lines with the linoleum cutter). Etch skull and crossbones symbol on one sail. Etch decorative lines into the jack-be-little pumpkin, transforming it into a crow's nest.

Step 3

Using a keyhole saw, carve a piece of foam board that fits the pumpkin's halved opening and nestles snugly into the bottom of the pumpkin. (Note: This foam board cutout will serve as a stabilizing base for the wooden-dowel masts.) Use an awl to puncture a hole through each sail, and two holes into the foam board. Insert wooden dowels into the foam board holes, forcing through to the bottom of the pumpkin. Skewer the sails, two on each dowel, and the etched crow's nest atop the front-facing dowel.

Step 4

Optional: Add personalized details like your favorite treasure treats or a miniature pirate pumpkin.

    Comments (2)

    How difficult was this project?
    Martha Stewart Member
    October 26, 2022
    Difficulty: Kind of Easy
    Please let me know if there is a template for creating this pumpkin pirate ship. I don't see one on this site. Thank you!
    Martha Stewart Member
    October 18, 2021
    Difficulty: Very Hard
    There is no template to download or print. must be an issue in this listing. Please let me know where the template is so I can download and print. Thank you.