The True Life of a Pirate

Topics: Piracy, Caribbean Sea, Ship Pages: 5 (1882 words) Published: May 22, 2012
Large groups of bold people once ruled the ocean blue committing crimes for profit find treasure. These people, known as pirates, traveled the seas committing robbery, murder, and other acts of violence. Throughout the age’s different groups of pirates held various territories, lifestyles, beliefs and modes of operation. There were sea thieves in Greek, Roman and Viking times. Pirates have cruised the waters of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean throughout history. The golden age of piracy began around 1650 and ended in the early 1800’s. This was before the days of steam power, when ships were slower and easier to attack. During the golden age the most famous pirates, sometimes called buccaneers, operated in the Caribbean Sea. “Piracy around the world can be tracked back to 1400 BC, but its effects on the Spanish started in as early as 1490, when pirates entered the Caribbean (Autengruber 1).” Piracy in the Caribbean greatly affected the Spanish economy. In response, the Spanish were forced to develop strategies and policies to eliminate piracy and to maintain dominance in the region. During its heyday in the Caribbean piracy became very popular. Many poor men became pirates for the adventurous lifestyle. Caribbean pirates attacked Spanish merchant ships for their treasure and also took over slave ships and liberated the slaves. Theft of Spanish treasure and slaves made the Spaniards very angry and caused problems with the Spanish economy. Pirates operating around the Caribbean were known as the buccaneers. Buccaneers lived on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and its tiny turtle-shaped neighbor, Tortuga. The main activities of buccaneers were to steal valuable goods and take control of Spanish land and even commandeer Spanish merchant ships. Author Kelly Davis states, “By the early 1800’s, more than 2,000 pirates were reckoned to be operating in the Caribbean. Most of them were in their late twenties and were drawn to this dangerous life because of their hunger for treasure (Davis 5).” Not only did young men become pirates, but some pirate ships had women on board as well. It took a good deal of strength, courage, and bravery to become a pirate. Life on board was often busy and physically demanding; pirates sometimes had to work long hours and go without sleep. Before the ship set sail, the pirate crew would take a vote to decide who should be captain. “The captain was chosen for his courage and leadership, he would discipline anyone who disobeyed his orders during a chase or battle (Davis 11).” The captain’s second-in-command held the title of quartermaster. The quartermaster was in charge of food and water supply and paying the crew wages. He also punished anyone who chose to disobey. The navigator of the ship was known as the pilot. “He directed the ships course by using sea charts, a compass, and a navigation instrument known as the astrolabe or back staff (Davis 11).” On board were many other useful seamen such as the boatswain, master gunner, ordinary seaman, carpenter, surgeon, cabin boy, musician, and the cook. Each of these men or women played a huge role in keeping the ship in order. The author of Real Pirates Clare Hibbert quotes, “Real pirates did not look like the ones in films. “Their clothes were filthy and worn until they were in tatters (Hibbert 36).” Most pirates were likely to own only one set of clothes; they would work, fight, and sleep in them. Therefore pirates’ clothes must have smelled terrible because fresh water supply was precious so the men rarely washed. Their outfit consisted of heavy wool or stitched together from scraps of canvas sailcloth smeared in black tar for protection from the cold and wet. Pirates wore loose fitting trousers cut off below the knee, a thigh-length shirt or coat, and they did not have shoes so they would be barefoot (Malam 12). Pirates often stole clothes from their victims because new clothes were too expensive....
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