Monday, February 8, 2021

We're Supposed To Sing About Piratey Things


Well, I've never licked a spark plug or sniffed a stinkbug, or painted daisies on a big red rubber ball, and I've also never been to Boston in the fall. More importantly, I never hoist the mainstay and I never swab the poop deck and I never veer to starboard 'cause I never sail at all. Which is a bit of a problem when you're writing a pirate book.

Which is as much to say, I got to chapter three of my pirate book and realized just how rusty I am on ships and sailing terms and general piratey things. So I took about a week or so off from writing to read as many ship and pirate books as I could find in my library system's juvenile nonfiction section. Those usually have more pictures (not that I found a great cross section of a sloop, but I have a little more direction) and tend to be more concise. I'm not writing a historical fiction, so I was mostly looking for inspiration and little things to jog my memory.

Because what's great about fantasy is that I can pick and choose what I want from real history, and make up the rest. I'm not stuck to reality, I can do whatever I want.

I did learn some interesting things in my research though. So I thought I'd share.

  • Cutlasses could chop through bone and muscle. Also, they were shorter than rapiers which made them less likely to get caught in the rigging during a fight.
  • Pirates were not generally well-trained fighters, they’d just hack away at their victims.
  • They would create stink bombs of clay jars filled with burning sulfur and rotten fish guts to make victims sick in an attack.
  • Pirates would often remove raised decks so the main deck was all one level, which made for a better fighting platform.
  • Pirates typically only attacked when they had a good chance of winning.
  • Pirates voted for captain and were run like democracies...and if the crew didn't like what the captain was doing, they'd throw him overboard or maroon him on an island.
  • Walking the plank wasn't really a thing, but they did throw people overboard, whip them with the cat o' nine tails, and keelhaul them.
  • Pirates rarely buried treasure. Usually they spent it as soon as they got it.
  • Gambling on board ship was typically banned to reduce fighting among the crew. That didn't stop them from gambling when they went ashore, though.
  • They actually stole a lot of everyday goods. They could be sold for money, and they often needed supplies and medicines themselves.
  • Also, Edward England's crew marooned him for treating a prisoner too well.
  • And Pirates of the Caribbean is not an accurate representation of piracy. Who knew, right? 😂

My pirate book is proooooobably going to be more along the lines of PotC than realistic piracy, but that's fine because it's fantasy. And who doesn't like PotC? I even just watched 4 and 5, even though they're really not that good. Because let's face it, we all know "they get more watered down after each one" but if they actually go through with making a sixth one, we'll all still watch it. Because


  1. If you haven't already, you might check out Treasure Island--tons of nautical terms in there! (But have a dictionary handy. I felt like I might as well have been reading Chinese, LOL.)

    1. I read it in high school and didn't much care for it, but maybe I should try it again. I am thinking of rereading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I loved that book, and it's a sea adventure.


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