Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label pirate facts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pirate facts. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pirates Ships - What’s in a Name?

Pirates were pretty good at brand recognition. No, really. Consider the following. Pirates didn’t attack prey haphazardly. Despite popular belief instilled by books and movies, pirates would rather use scare tactics and nasty reputations than engage in a sea battle. Battles used valuable resources such as
ammunition. Crewmen could be hurt or killed. The prize could be damaged or sunk, defeating the purpose of plundering goods, stealing treasure, or seizing the ship for their own. So when they sailed upon a quarry, it was preferred the victim surrender before no quarter was given.

The first indication a pirate ship was closing in would be their colors. The flags pirates hoisted were recognizable, often red or black and depicting skulls, bones, blood, swords, and even an hourglass, a warning to their prey time was running out. When a Jolly Roger snapped in the wind, there was no question the ship claimed no country and that danger was on the horizon.

It would only make sense that pirates would also use branding with the names they chose for their ships.

Sam Bellamy's flagship

While some pirates never bothered with renaming the ships they seized, most christened their newly acquired vessels with names that held meaning. Many ships were named according to their profession—adventure, fancy, ranger, fortune. Some monikers were meant to boost fear—revenge, delivery, rover, triumph. Others made political statements. It has been suggested that Edward Teach (1680-1718), famously known as Blackbeard, was a Jacobite sympathizer and had named his flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge in support of England’s deposed Queen Anne.

Here is a list of other notable pirates and the ships they captained.

  • Jeanne de Clisson (1300-1359) - The Black Fleet, Revenge
  • Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) - Golden Hind
  • Peter Easton (1570-1620) - Happy Adventure
  • Henry Morgan (1635-1688) - Satisfaction
  • William Kidd (1645-1701) - Adventure Galley, Adventure Prize
  • Thomas Tew (1649-1695) - Amity
  • Laurens DeGraaf (1653-1704), Anne Dieu-Le-Veut (1661-1710) - Tigre, Francesca, Fortune renamed Neptune
  • Henry Avery (1659-1699) - Fancy
  • Charles Vane (1680-1721) - Lark, Ranger
  • Benjamin Hornigold (1680-1719) - Ranger
  • Richard Worley (?-1718) - New York’s Revenge

    The Golden Hind (replica)
  • William Moody (?-1719) - Rising Sun
  • Robert Sample (?-1719) - Flying King
  • Bartholomew Roberts aka Black Bart (1682-1722) - Royal Rover, Fortune, Good Fortune, Great Ranger, Little Ranger
  • Edward England (1685-1721) - Royal James, Fancy, Ranger
  • Jack Rackham aka Calico Jack (1682-1720), Mary Read(1685-1721), Anne Bonny (1697-possibly 1782) - William
  • Stede Bonnet (1688-1718) - Revenge renamed Royal James
  • Sam Bellamy aka Black Sam (1689-1717) - Whydah Galley
  • George Lowther (?-1723) - Delivery
  • Christopher Condent (1690s-1770) - The Flying Dragon
  • Edward “Ned” Low (1690-1724) - Rebecca, Fancy, Rose Pink, Merry Christmas
  • John Gow (1695-1725) - Fortune
  • Ching Shih (1775-1844) - a whole fleet called the Red Flag Fleet
  • Jean Lafitte (1780-1823) - Dorada 
It’s interesting to note how many ships possessed the same or similar names. Is that because of brand recognition? Possibly. No sense in changing what works. Huzzah! 

About the Author                                                

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dead Men Tell No Tales

It’s no secret Hollywood romanticizes and takes creative license when making movies. This is best witnessed in action or sci-fi movies but can be seen in everything from romantic comedies to horror to dramatic biopics. It’s all about evoking audience response—laughter, tears, heartbreak, wanting, fear, ire—and it’s entertainment. Of course, pirate movies are no different.

As an author of pirate romance and someone who has researched in depth the pirate life, I can’t help but be critical when a television series or movie is based on pirate lore or has Caribbean pirate elements. Unless way off base, I don’t usually let fallacies get in the way of enjoying the feature. But when they get it right, the experience is more fulfilling.

Take the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for example. It is fantastical and chock full of mythical creatures and nautical lore—the Kraken, fish people, Davy Jones, giant goddesses, man-eating sirens, Fountain of Youth, ghost sharks and skeletal undead pirates, to name a few. The plights of Captain Jack Sparrow and gang are always epic and the odds insurmountable. Each movie is an adventure with well-rounded endings. As a moviegoer, I am always blown away.

To be fair, I am a bit biased. I love the franchise, love Johnny Depp, sleep with a pillowcase of Will Turner, listen to the soundtracks while writing my own pirate tales, and even own an autographed copy of The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean—a collection of working drawings and conceptual art for the first three movies. I have waited with baited breath for the next movie Dead Men Tell No Tales to hit the silver screen. And I wasn’t disappointed. I laughed, cried, and thoroughly enjoyed being whisked away for more than 2 hours in a world that had captured my heart more than 13 years ago.

But how accurate is POTC? Some aspects are close, other aren’t. Okay, so that was an ambiguous answer. In part because it would depend on how much hair-splitting is involved. Think weapons, clothing, politics, tactics, superstitions, terminology and (most) settings*. The details are there, but they may not necessarily be right for the time period.

Pirate flavoring was added, and loads of it comes from what we already believe about pirates from Robert Louis Stevenson’s embellished adventure novel Treasure Island. In reality, there was no walking the plank or burying treasure. Eye-patches were not used to cover disfigurements, but rather to keep one eye adjusted to the darkness. Pirate codes were not universal; the articles varied from ship to ship. And there was no parlay nor swinging by ropes from ship to ship.

What about those ships? The visual depictions of the variety of vessels are amazing and for the most part true. I say for the most part because I personally have not noticed anything erroneous. The makers even got the sails right. Unlike many seafaring movies which showcase vessels with tight square sails, POTC ships are closer to the truth with their billowing sails capturing the wind and fluttering to keep it. However, what is not quite right is the speed of the ships and size of ship to crew ratio. The Black Pearl, a ship that could even outrun the legendary Flying Dutchman, was a galleon. That size ship is too large to sail fast and maneuver with ease, assuming it isn’t resurrected by Davy Jones as the Black Pearl was. Add to that, it would require a sizeable crew numbering in the hundreds to man her, more depending also on how many guns she carried. Same holds true for the other ships in the films.

Are Jack, Barbossa, Gibbs, and the rest true representations of pirates themselves? Not really. These are fictional characters with fictional quests. But some of their actions, motivations, goals, and methods were spot on. While sailors on both sides of the law often lacked education, pirates acted democratically, weighing risks, costs, and benefits, which determined which targets to pursue and what tactics were used. And though they might’ve been drunks, womanizers, and all-around rabble-rousers, they weren’t as bumbling as depicted in the movies. Sure makes for a great time, though, doesn’t it?

Like with most movies (and fiction in general), suspension of disbelief is a given to enhance the enjoyment. The runaway water wheel ending with the three-way swordfight in Dead Man’s Chest is definitely one of my favorites scenes. Some of those outlandish scenes in  POTC even seemed plausible though they weren’t, like using a rowboat as a makeshift submarine or a dagger upon a sail to slow a fall. Others aren’t so far-fetched. The green flash seen when “a soul comes back to this world from the dead” is a real occurrence. Not the soul coming back. The green flash. It is an “optical phenomena” that occurs just has the sun sets or rises upon the horizon. And there is more science behind several scenes in Dead Men Tell No Tales, one being the bootleg turn young Jack makes to escape Captain Salazar. See the bootleg turn at 0:27 in the trailer below. For more science at play, you'll just have to go see the movie.

Fact or fiction, Dead Men Tell No Tales is swashbuckling fun. Two thumbs up from this pirate wench.

(*Port Royal situated on a cliff in Curse of the Black Pearl was for the sake of cinema. Port Royal was actually built on a sandspit.)

About the Author                                                
Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pirate Company and Crew

Every member of a pirate crew was important. Skills and seafaring knowledge may vary but, generally speaking, it took many men to sail a ship. Add to that, to expertly be ready for action. Discipline, responsibility, and working together ensured success, or at the very least staying afloat.

Here is a brief look at what made up a crew.

The Captain

The captain, having proven himself worthy of the title, was elected by the crew. He was a good leader, cunning, and courageous. He took command of the ship during battle, determined when to give chase and when to seek safer waters. The crew looked to him to find treasure, be that a prized ship, goods, or riches, and to keep them alive.

The Quartermaster

The quartermaster, who was also elected, was just as important as the captain, possibly more so. He was the voice of the crew, representing their best interests. He was usually the most trusted member of the crew and may have been seen as the captain’s equal. He handled the plunder. This meant that he determined what goods would fetch a fine price in port and allocating fair shares to the crew. Though he distributed the booty, he also doled out justice and punishments. Rationing food and drink fell to him, as well.

Navigator, aka Sailing Master

This seaman knew the sea and stars. He had to be literate, good in mathematics, and be able plot courses, especially in dangerous waters, reefs, and shoals.

Surgeon, aka Barber

Scarce and highly sought after, the surgeon tended to the injured and sick. He was a busy man treating illnesses such as dysentery, fever, and venereal diseases. He also had a nice variety of tools and knives used for surgical procedures. *shivers*

Master Gunner

He was in charge of the shipboard guns and ammunition. It took years of experience to become a master gunner. Gun crews had to work together quickly and with precision. The master gunner trained and oversaw the gun crews to ensure not only their effectiveness but their safety, too.

Boatswain (Pronounced Bosun, often spelled bo’sun)

The boatswain was like a department manager. He supervised all deck activities, crewman working the decks, the ship’s rigging, sails, anchors, and carrying out any other duties asked of him by one of the ship’s officers.

Cook, aka Barbeque

A pirate’s gotta eat and the cook was the guy that prepared the meals.


If it was wood, the carpenter was responsible for its maintenance. Namely the ship’s hull, yardarms, and masts. He quite literally kept the ship afloat by plugging holes, filling seams, and repairing damage caused by battle, worms, weather, rocks, and rough seas. Sometimes, the carpenter was also the ship’s surgeon.

Lesser known crew:

First mate - the second-in-command to the captain, which he chooses. Incidentally, the first mate does not outweigh the quartermaster. Many crews didn’t have first mates or, because they were second-in-command, might be interchangeable with the quartermaster, depending on the abilities of  the pirate filling the role. Other mates, such as a bo’sun mate or gunner mate, would act as apprentices.

Helmsman - the fellow at the wheel

Cooper - the barrel maker was in charge of maintenance and repairs of all casks, which held food, water, and, of course, the rum.

Coxswain - in charge of the ship’s launch boats

Prize crew - pirates assigned to take over the command of a captured ship

Topman - this sailor wouldn’t be squeamish of heights. He worked high up in the masts on rigging.

Watch - one or more men on deck duty that watched for land sightings, ships, or anything afoul, be it bad weather, shifts in tides or wind, or unwanted visitors. Watch can also mean the shift of shipboard duties

Anchor watch, stand-by watch - one or more men who were on deck duty while the ship in anchored and/or while the rest of the crew is on shore. They watched for

Rope maker - you guessed it, he makes and repairs ropes. And there is a boatload of rope on a ship, pun intended.

Armourer - in charge of all small arms—muskets, blunderbusses, pistols, etc. Crewmen didn’t carry these weapons on them. They were stored until needed.

Supercargo, aka Cape-merchant - handles the business transactions of cargo

Cabin boy - a young boy who served as valet to the captain

Fo’c’sle jack - any crewman who is not an officer

A.B.S. - simply put, able-bodied seaman

Musicians - as non-essential as they were, those with musical talent, even just a tiny bit, were favored. They played jigs and sea shanties for merriment and roused fighting spirit during battles.

Everyone on board played a role in the crew. They all worked hard.  It’s no wonder they partied hard, too. Pass the rum!

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pirates Have Sailed into Port

Ahoy! I’m Jennifer Bray-Weber, author, beach bum, rum drinker and pirate diva. I am honored to be a new addition to History Undressed. Every second Tuesday of the month, I will offer boatloads of pirate topics, facts and overall revelry for your enjoyment. From time to time, I’ll even share my booty, er, plunder, um, swag. I’m so excited to be a part of the blog, I’m shivering in me timbers!  I know, I know...bad pun.

Pirates are a fascinating bunch. The more I researched them, the more I became obsessed. Here are ten reasons why I love those scallywags.

It's a pirate's life for me!
1. Because I can call them scallywags. No, seriously. Pirates work hard and they play harder. My kind of folks.

2. Pirates are clever and strategic tacticians. Prowling the seas is a business, not just an adventure.

3. They are courageous. Whether in battle or from the hardships of sailing, they face the real likelihood they will not survive. Yet, it is the life they choose.

4.  Loyalty is in their blood. They are a brotherhood unlike any other. When the world is the enemy, they have each other’s backs.

5. They love passionately. After all, tomorrow is never a guarantee.

6. Pirates are self-governing.  They sign articles—a code of conduct—they are expected to follow. If they break the rules, they face just punishment. They vote on important matters, like who’ll be captain. And spoils are divided equally and fairly depending upon rank.

7. Superstition is rampant. Just like most sailors, they are a superstitious lot. This makes for fun pirate tales.

Sexy, wicked fun
8. Pirates are bad boys. Need I say more?

9. They live free, relentless in pursuit of adventure and wealth.

10. And because pirates capture my fancy in movies and television. Some of my favorites: Pirates of the Caribbean (naturally), Black Sails, Captain Blood, Buccaneer’s Girl, Crossbones,  Against All Flags, and Goonies, just to name a few. Let’s not forget Dread Pirate Roberts (The Princess Bride) and  Captain Shakespeare (Stardust). And how about sea adventures like Master and Commander, Mutiny on the Bounty, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Do you have a favorite pirate or sea adventure movie?

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.