Pirate Adventure Source Ch. 01byR. Richard©
So you want to write about adventure on the high seas? Warships or pirate ships adventurously prowling the oceans! Well then, you need to first know about ships.
Let us start with nomenclature. Sailors had to have a language that enabled them to describe the parts of their ships and the locations of the part with extreme precision. If an order was given, it had to be immediately clear what a sailor was to do, even if the sailor could not see the man who issued the order.
Abeam: Off to the side of the ship, at right angles to the direction the ship is pointed
Ahead: In front of the ship, in the direction the ship is pointed.
Apparent Wind: The true wind blows in some direction. However, the speed of a fast boat can make it seem that the apparent wind comes from a direction determined by the speed and direction of the wind and the speed and direction of the ship. Apparent wind is only a factor in a very fast sailing ship.
Astern: Behind the ship, in the opposite direction from which the ship is pointed
Aloft: Above the deck of the ship.
Batten Down: Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on the deck.
Beam: The greatest width of a ship.
Bearing: The direction of an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on a chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat. A navigator might use a chart bearing, a sailor would probably use a ship heading bearing.
Below: Beneath the deck.
Bilge: The interior of a hull below the floorboards.
Block: A wooden or metal case enclosing one or more pulleys and having a hook, eye, or strap by which it may be attached. See Tackle.
Bow: The forward part of a boat.
Bowsprit: A spar extending forward from the bow.
Broach: Sudden, unplanned, and uncontrolled turning of a vessel so that the hull is broadside to the seas or to the wind.
Bulkhead: A vertical partition separating compartments. On land it would be a wall.
Dead Ahead: Directly ahead.
Dead Astern: Directly astern.
Dead Reckoning: A plot of courses steered and distances traveled through the water without use of landmarks.
Deck : A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part of a ship serving as a floor.
Draft: The depth of water a ship requires to sail.
Flotsam: Wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk. Floating refuse or debris.
Following Sea: An overtaking sea that comes from astern.
Forecastle: Also spelled Fo'c'sle (pronounced Folksul) fo'c's'le originally meant the upper deck of a sailing ship, forward of the foremast. The forward part of a sailing ship with the sailors' living quarters is also called forecastle.
Fouled : Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.
Freeboard: The minimum vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwale.
Gunwale: The upper edge of a boat's sides.
Hatch: An opening in a boat's deck fitted with a watertight cover.
Head: A marine toilet; also the upper corner of a triangular sail.
Heading: The direction in which a vessel's bow points at any given time.
Heave To: To bring a vessel up in a position where it will maintain little or no headway, usually with the bow into the wind or nearly so.
Heel: To tip to one side.
Helm: The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
Hull: The main body of a monohull vessel. One of the multiple hulls of a multihull vessel.
Jetsam: Cargo or equipment thrown overboard to lighten a ship in distress. Discarded cargo or equipment found washed ashore.
Keel: The centerline of a boat running fore and aft. It is the backbone of a vessel.
Knot: A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour. A fastening made by interweaving line to fasten a line to an object or to another line.
Larboard: The port side of a ship. The term Larboard was used for many years, ending in 1840 when the British Navy decided that it was too easy to confuse larboard and starboard in spoke order. Larboard was then replaced with port. (Port wine comes from Oporto in Portugal and has nothing to do with the port side of a ship.)
Leeward: Away from the direction that the wind is coming. It is he opposite of windward.
Line : Cordage used aboard a vessel. Never, ever call a line a rope!
Log: A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.
Painter: A line attached to the bow of a boat for use in towing or making fast.
Pay Out: To ease out a line, or let it run in a controlled manner.
Pitch: The alternating rise and fall of the bow of a vessel proceeding through waves. The theoretical distance advanced by a propeller in one revolution. Tar and resin used for caulking between the planks of a wooden vessel.
Port: The left side of a boat looking forward. Also, a harbor.
Propellor: A rotating device, with two or more blades, that acts as a screw in propelling a vessel. Usually referred to as a screw.
Quarterdeck: Part of ship's deck set aside by captain for ceremonial functions
Reef: To reduce the exposed area of a sail.
Rigging: The general term for all the lines of a vessel.
Roll: The alternating motion of a boat, leaning alternately to port and starboard. The motion of a boat about its fore-and-aft axis.
Rope: In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When rope comes aboard a vessel and is cut to length and put to use, it becomes line.
Screw: A ship's propeller.
Ship: If a watergoing vessel is 100 feet or longer, it is a ship, else it is a boat. However, a submarine is a boat, regardless of length.
Squall: A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.
Starboard: The right side of a boat when looking forward fro the deck.
Stern: The after part (back) of the boat.
Scupper: An opening in the side of a ship at deck level to allow water to run off. An opening for draining off water, as from a floor or the roof of a building.
Sea Anchor: Any device used to reduce a boat's drift before the wind
Tackle: A combination of blocks and line used to increase mechanical advantage.
Turnbuckle: A threaded, adjustable rigging fitting, used for stays, lifelines, and sometimes other rigging.
Tonne: The capacity of early sailing ships was expressed in tonnes. A tonne was a large wine barrel. As you might imagine, one of the principal cargoes of early sailing ships was wine.
True Wind: The actual direction from which the wind is blowing. (See Apparent Wind)
Windward: Toward the direction from which the wind is coming. It is the opposite of leeward.
Yaw: The swinging off course of a ship, caused by the action of the sea.
Pirates were men who sailed the seas in ships, hoping to rob other ships and the passengers of the other ships.
Some pirates were simply criminals. In other cases, pirates who were usually called privateers, were actually financed and controlled by governments who wished to prey on the shipping of other nations.
A privateer was a kind of independent nautical mercenary, commissioned by a government to attack ships of an enemy nation in exchange for a piece of the spoils. Royal navies couldn't be everywhere, so countries in times of war turned to profit-hungry freelancers.
In general, pirates were led by a Captain. The Captain was elected by the pirates and could be replaced by vote of the pirates. In general, a Pirate Captain was a superior fighting man and leader. He had to lead the boarding of prey ships to retain the respect of his pirate crew. In general, a pirate Captain was a fighting man who led the pirate attacks on shipping. The second in command was the Quartermaster. In general, the Quartermaster commanded the men when they were not prepared for action.
A privateer was usually commanded by a regular Navy officer and the crew was a mixture of sailors and fighters who were often regular Navy men, picking up considerably more money than they could earn as just regular Navy crew.
The man who actually commanded a pirate ship was called a Sailing Master. It was not common for a pirate Captain to be the Sailing Master. As you can imagine, the pirate Captain was busy preparing his men to board a prey ship. He did not really have the time or opportunity to act as a Sailing Master.
In the case of privateers and sometimes in the case of pirates, the crew was governed by ship's articles. Ship's articles were a sort of contract between the crew and the Captain. Ship's articles defined the status of crew members and the share of any spoils to be divided.
In general, pirates wore whatever they could find. Much of their clothing was looted from prey ships. Thus, a pirate tended to be dressed in a motley assortment of clothing.
Early sailing ships were sealed with pitch, a black, tarry substance. The crew of a ship, even a pirate ship had to work with pitch on a day by day basis. As you might imagine, a crew member and his clothing had quite a bit of pitch smeared on. While a pirate Captain might not have to work with pitch, he work with and around men who were smeared with the stuff.
If a pirate captain had special clothing, it was likely to be leather. Leather was worn for protection against cutlass and sword thrusts and slashes.
If a pirate had long hair, he might wear a cloth tied about his head to keep the hair out of his eyes.
In general, pirates did not wear fancy hats. One of the exceptions was Blackbeard (Blackbeard is usually named as Edward Teach, although that was not his real name. Blackbeard was from respectable family in England and did not want the family name to be associated with piracy.) Blackbeard wore a hat because he was in the habit of wearing burning fuse dangling from the sweatband of his hat. The sight was intended to frighten his victims.
[Please see Pirate Adventure Source Material Ch 02 for further information.]