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Do you think this uniform makes me look fat? Do you think the members of V.F.D would just sit and twiddle our thumbs while Count Olaf's treachery covers the land like crust on a pie?
~ One of Captain Widdershins' ridiculous speeches

Captain Widdershins is one of the main protagonists of the eleventh book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto.


Captain Widdershins was part of V.F.D in his youth. He signed for Voluntary Fish Domestication and worked alongside the Hook Handed Man, his stepson. The Hook Handed Man stole worms and fed them to his favourite salmon. Captain Widdershins liked V.F.D. a lot and found their courses fun. One time he wanted to go mountaineering but the authorities in V.F.D. said he hadn't trained properly and was too fat. It is said Widdershins wasn't that insulted at all by this, in fact he liked being fat.

He met Count Olaf many times. Once Olaf turned to him and insulted him badly but its unknown what Olaf said to him. Also Widdershins had a stepdaughter named Fiona who was the sister of the Hook Handed Man.

Captain Widdershins initially got on very well with his stepson, the Hook Handed Man, (named Fernald) and would play cards on the submarine bridge late at night but eventually Fernald grew unhappy (perhaps rightly so) with Widdershins shouting "AYE!" and ordering everyone around so Fernald betrayed Widdershins by joining Olaf. Fernald apparently set fire to Anwhistle Aquatics, a marine research center and rhetorical advice service founded by Aunt Josephine's brother-in-law Gregor Anwhistle, when he joined Olaf.

Before he left, Fernald had terrible arguments with Widdershins and this kept his sister Fiona awake. Later, because of his optimism, Widdershins chose only to remember the charming side Fernald had.


The Grim Grotto

My name is Captain Widdershins. Backwards it's spelled S-N-I-
~ Captain Widdershin's humour

Captain Widdershins first appeared when the Baudelaires hit the submarine on their raft they were speeding downriver on from the Caligari Carnival which was in flames from Olaf's doing. Captain Widdershins couldn't believe his luck when he saw the children staring at him and yet he had to be sure they were real and not a hallucination. So he asked for the password. When Violet said "The world is quiet here" Widdershins opened up the hatch, knowing they were affiliated with V.F.D.

When the Baudelaires embarked on the submarine, Widdershins gave them all dizzy heads by stomping round, shouting ridiculous things that didn't make any sense (such as keep calm, keep your head, stop for lunch, and have a whisky) and the Baudelaires began giggling about the way Widdershins spoke. He finally appeared as a short fat man with immense whiskers. He wore a uniform with a portrait of Herman Melville on the front. Widdershins also acknowledged that he knew of the Baudelaires reputation (not as murderers and arsonists, as the Media believed, but as the noble volunteers of V.F.D.) and he welcomed them onboard. When Violet asked who he was, he said he'd never been so insulted in his life - but then he said that, actually, Olaf insulted him worse than that once. He then introduced himself as Captain Widdershins, owner of the submarine Queequeq affectionately called "The submarine Q and its crew of two."

Captain Widdershins then unveiled his personal philosophy - "He who hesitates is lost." The confused Baudelaires were glad of many times in their lives when they had hesitated and this had saved their lives. Captain Widdershins noted his stepdaughter added "or she" to the plaque with his philosophy. Widdershins said she's right, and if a giant octopus chased you and you hesitated to tie up your laces, you'd be lost! Then he sheepishly admitted that if he had hesitated, the submarine would be fixed by now and said he needed Violet's mechanical knowledge to help him.

He showed the orphans into the main hall and overwhelmed them with all the sights. Then he introduced them to Fiona, the stepdaughter, who took a liking to Klaus. Then Widdershins ordered them to start work at once, rather than spend a nice quiet evening relaxing, as Fiona proposed. Widdershins then said five days was all they had to find the sugar bowl and get to the Hotel Denouement. When Sunny said "Shiver me timbers!" Widdershins believed the Baudelaires were pirates. Violet assured him they weren't, saying she was just surprised, and Widdershins said he thought the mission to find the sugar bowl was obvious.

Then Widdershins fired up the engines when the orphans met Phil from the lumbermill, who was still as optimistic as ever, and they all got round to work. Over dinner, Widdershins rather rudely grabbed the pepper and dismissed anyone else's cravings. Widdershins also said he was glad he found the kids. He was rather obnoxious and didn't give anyone any privacy or any spare time. All was a rush with him. However, he did calm down a lot when faced with Count Olaf's intrusive submarine outside, and then an even larger submarine, shaped like a question mark, which drove it away.

When Klaus said he knew where the sugar bowl was, Widdershins got delighted with Klaus and said this was the best dinner conversation opener in history. Widdershins said Klaus could even marry Fiona if he found the bowl for him. When Klaus said the sugar bowl was in the Gorgononian Grotto, named after a mythological creature from ancient Greece, (whom Phil said was "probably a nice person, when you got to know her") and Widdershins said he believed he went to school with such a lady, Widdershins then went onto say that he jammed the submarine in the Grotto and they needed the Baudelaire's help if they were going to get in and find the sugar bowl. He warned them of the dangerous Medusoid Mycelium fungus, and said to watch out for it and gave them a hint that they might be able to recharge their helmets and take them off even if they were underwater, which confused the children. Captain Widdershins said that all of the Baudelaires would get certifications for bravery from V.F.D. for doing such a dangerous mission and he bade them farewell, then was never seen again.

In between

When the Baudelaires and Fiona got back from their unsuccessful mission, the submarine was mysteriously empty, perhaps in a spoof of the Mary Celeste. It turned out that while the children were in the Grotto, battling the fungus and the tides, Kit Snicket had come on the submarine and warned Widdershins of an urgent situation requesting his help. He left with her and Phil went too. Snicket said that Widdershins was a coward for abandoning the Baudelaires and his stepdaughter. Then it turned out Captain Widdershins was due to meet Kit Snicket again at a clump of seaweed if all went well.

The Penultimate Peril

In the events of The Penultimate Peril, Kit Snicket recruited the Baudelaires to find a possible impostor in the famous Hotel Denouement. Kit said she would head out to sea to meet Captain Widdershins again at a certain clump of seaweed if everything went well. Snicket said she later sped away from the Captain, meaning that things went badly. Captain Widdershins set off to help Quigley and his siblings escape Count Olaf's treacherous eagles, yet the Hook Handed Man popped the helium balloons of the self-sustaining hot air mobile home built by Hector, and the device crashed in the ocean. Captain Widdershins tried to help but the mysterious submarine, the Great Unknown which chased away Olaf's submarine, appeared and Captain Widdershins and the others chose to enter the device. They were never seen again.


Despite his arrogance, Captain Widdershins was likeable. He had an unpleasant habit of never giving anyone free time or personal space, and life on the Queequeg was "safe but uncomfortable". He even made an unpleasant joke about Sunny, "I guess she'll drown!" But then he found a solution. Captain Widdershins was a man in between volunteer and villainly - he could be unpleasant and likeable simultaneously. His split personality was probably manifested in his stepchildren Fernald and Fiona, who betrayed him twice, but Captain Widdershins could forgive anyone's failures, such was his nobility.

However, he had a nasty habit of leaving those in danger, such as how he left Fiona and the Baudelaires to join Kit Snicket, something Lemony Snicket says he should never have done.