Friday, December 14, 2007

Pirates in the Indian Ocean- Captain Kidd

Captain William Kidd was born in Greenock, Scotland in 1645. He moved to New York at the age of 5 and grew up in the bustling, nationally and ethnically diverse colony. He was even an active member of Trinity Church, near modern Wall Street.

He was captured an enemy privateer in the War of Grand Alliance and was given a commission to hunt pirates in the Indian Ocean. His ship Adventure Galley did not begin its voyage with class and polish. When they were exiting the channel in London, where they received their commission, they failed to salute a Navy Ship, instead jeering and slapping their backsides. They were consequently stopped by a larger Royal Navy ship and most of Kidd's crew was pressed into naval service.

Kidd Sailed for New York City, capturing a French vessel on his way. One thing that sets Kidd apart in history is that his second-in-command was a man named Van-der-Heul who may have been black.

In September of 1696 Kidd finally arrived in Madagascar and began hunting pirates. Kidd however is said to not have been very picky in who he attacked, several times attacking ships carrying goods to England under the protection of the Fleet of the British East India Company. He battled with mutinies and accusations of savagery by former crew members and prisoners alike.

Oh January 30, 1698 he raised French colors and attacked the Armenian Ship the Quedah Merchant a treasure ship laden with silks, gold, silver and east Indian merchandise. When word returned to England that he kept the ship for his crew it was seen as an act of open piracy and the government revoked his marque to privateer. He renamed the Quedah Merchant the Adventure Prize and sailed for New York City.

Kidd was sent to England and tried for piracy. He was hanged on May 23, 1701.

My name was Captain Kidd, when I sail'd, when I sail'd, And so wickedly I did, God's laws I did forbid, When I sail'd, when I sail'd. I roam'd from sound to sound, And many a ship I found, And then I sunk or burn'd, When I sail'd. I murder'd William Moore, And laid him in his gore, Not many leagues from shore, When I sail'd. Farewell to young and old, All jolly seamen bold, You're welcome to my gold, For I must die, I must die. Farewell to Lunnon town, The pretty girls all round, No pardon can be found, and I must die, I must die, Farewell, for I must die. Then to eternity, in hideous misery, I must lie, I must lie.

What the *$^% is a: Bo'sun?

Boatswain or Bo’sun, aka Third or Fourth Mate

Foreman of the ship’s crew he disciplines the crewmembers and is responsible for anchors, colors, rigging, deck crew and ship’s boats; He signals the crew in their jobs with a code of whistles.

Pirates in the News! December 14, 2007

It's time for yet another installment of Pirates in the News, this week there's some examples of the Good, the Bad and the historic.

To start off, when looking at pirates one has to remember that they are more than fun loving desperadoes, pirates are responsible for some seriously disgusting feats of brutality.

Somali Pirates Threaten to Kill Hostages

"Somali pirates holding the Japanese ship are demanding $1 million," said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers' Assistance Program. "They are also saying we are going to kill the crew if our demands are not met."

The US led Navy in the area has had the ship surrounded since late October, but the pirates remain in control of the Benzene tanker.

UPDATE: Pirates Release Japanese Tanker

6,000 Women of the Bonny Kingdom marched last week in Protest of the pirates.
Over 6,000 mothers and daughters of Bonny Kingdom on Thursday took to the streets of the island in protest of the rising activities of sea pirates on the Bonny/Port Harcourt waterway, which has claimed many lives and is taking serious tolls on the economy of the island.

Sea Shepard "pirates" set to take on whales.

Much like Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior the Sea Shepard alliance has announced its intentions to ram Japanese whaling ships in Antarctic waters that are preying on endangered cetations. The yearly Japanese whaling harvest kills over 1000 whales in the Southern Oceans. While their actions are illegal and violent, it is interesting to see how varied the actions of "pirates" can be.

Indiana University team finds fabled Pirate Ship

Members of a team from Indiana University believe they have discovered Captain Kidd's fabled treasure ship.

"We've got a shipwreck in crystal clear, pristine water that's amazingly untouched," Beeker said in a press release from the university. Now they hope to see the wreck preserved.

Capt. William Kidd was at first hired by the British government to raid enemy shipping in the 1600s. But after capturing the heavily laden Quedagh, he was accused of turning pirate. He sailed the ship to the Caribbean, where he offloaded most of her loot and left her in the care of a small crew in 1699 while he headed to New York in a doomed effort to clear his name.

That's exciting news pirate fans, and stay tuned for a more complete biography of Captain Kidd.

Nautical Superstitions

A silver coin placed under the masthead ensures a successful voyage.

Ship Types: The Cutter

The Cutter

The term cutter is applied to small ships, and is determined by either the organization owning the boat, the way the boat is used, the way its oars are arranged or a specific kind of sailing. They have one sail forward and one sail aft on a single mast. They are fast and usually lightly armed. They are also extremely maneuverable.

What Have Pirates Done For Me Lately? -Pouring one out for your dead homies

It is a nautical superstition that to ensure a good voyage, you must pour out some of your ship's libations to appease otherworldly powers including dead sailors.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pirate Comics: Avast Ye'

Avaste Ye --Charming, enjoy.

Pirates in the Caribbean- Stede Bonnet

Stede Bonnet is often referred to as "The Gentleman Pirate" turned to piracy later in life. A wealthy landowner, he had some militia experience as a young man but mostly lived high on the hog in Barbados for years. Unfortunately, his career as a planter was marked by failures and at the age of 29 he put together a ship and a crew and set his sights on brigandage. Caribbean

"There is also or has been lately over on the [North American] Coast, a pirate sloop from Barbados commanded by one Major Bonnet, who has an Estate on that island," Candler wrote his superiors in London in the summer of 1717. "The sloop is his own. This advice I had from a letter from thence, that in April last [1717] he ran away out of Carlisle Bay in the night and had aboard 126 men and 6 guns... and ammunition enough."

-Captain Benjamin Candler of the HMS Winchelsea

His ship, The Revenge, plied the coasts around Barbados and along the Eastern American Seaboard until he was seriously injured on his way to Nassau. In Nassau he met Blackbeard, and most of his crew defected to join Blackbeard's crew aboard Queen Anne's Revenge. For a time while he was recovering, Bonnet joined Blackbeard aboard his ship as a guest.

The next summer he set out again, this time as a privateer commissioned by the Governor of North Carolina to plunder Spanish shipping. He adopted the alias "Captain Thomas" and changed his ship's name to the Royal James. While the ship was being careened on the Cape Fear River, a group of pirate hunters from South Carolina led by Captain William Rhett captured Bonnet and his crew after a battle of a few hours.

Bonnet was hanged for two counts of piracy on December 10, 1718 in Charleston.

What Have Pirates Done For Me Lately? -Bicameral Legislature

The Pirate Utopia of Salé on the Moroccan coast was a truly independent state for decades in the 16th century. While the rest of North Africa was being carved up among the Ottomans and various Sufi princes, democracy of a kind was flourishing.

Salé was ruled by the Taiffe Reisi or Council of Captains and the Divan, which was populated by former commander-in-chiefs. Becoming a voting member of the legislature was as simple as staying alive long enough to rise through the ranks of corsairs. Every two months a new commander-in-chief, "Agha of Two Moons," took over as head of the corsair fleet. This gave an unprecedented level of opportunity to men who took up the vocation of corsair. A man, regardless of birth, could rise to the highest levels of government.

This form of government was the first democratic government after Greece and heavily influenced European Democracies that would follow it.

Modern Salé and Rabat

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ship Types: The Frigate

The Frigate

The term frigate does not describe a specific type of ship but refers to a ship smaller and faster than a regular battleship.

In the Seventeenth Century for patrolling and escorting other ships. They usually had one gun deck with other guns on the spar deck. They were very commonly used and occasionally filled in for other types of ships as raiders or in battle, placed between larger ships.

The ship in the movie Master and Commander is a frigate, the USS Constitution is also a frigate and is a tourist attraction in Boston, Massachusetts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pirate Charity

I know, Pirate Charity is an oxymoron, but there's at least one:

Pirates in the News! December 3, 2007

This last week saw several important, weighty news items about Pirates and Piracy, not the least of it is this important economic trend.

Rum is becoming more popular in the wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean Movies
"Demand for golden rum has surged by 31 per cent across all retailers in the past year to make it the UK's fastest growing spirit, according to analysts AC Nielsen. "

My personal favorite, Ron de Barrilito from Puerto Rico, but it does pain me to treat any form of booze with preference.

Next up, Actual News!

Search for the Somali Pirate "Mothership"

"The small boats which are used for piracy could not travel" from shore as far into the ocean as ships have been attacked, said Commodore Khan Hasham of Pakistan, one of the U.S. allies in the anti-piracy operation. "So they needed a mother ship from which the pirates could launch skiffs.

A U.S. led coalition is in the Arabian Sea making efforts to protect commerce from pirates, who have been harrying ships for... as long as trade has existed in the Arabian Sea.

Piracy in the area hit the American news networks in 2005 when pirates attacked a cruise ship and were repelled by a sound weapon.

And to close, Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Pirate, who were married this last weekend in Weymouth.

Pieces of Eight

Pieces of eight were the most important currency on the high seas during the Golden Age of Piracy

The term refers to Spanish currency, which were minted of solid silver from the Americas and transferred back to Europe. One piece of eight was worth eight reales and is also called an eight real coin. It was the first world currency and even today, many currencies are based on the Spanish dollar. These coins were made exclusively of silver and were worth their own weight. A gold Spanish coin would be worth 16 reales, all pieces of eight are correctly made of silver.

They were often stamped to say that a certain company or person had assayed their worth and determined them genuine silver. Silver was the only currency that China would accept, so these coins were used round the world as a solid measure of wealth.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pirate Exhibits- Cincinnati, Ohio

Hey Ohio Pirates,

If you're near Cincinnati you should check out the Cincinnati Museum Center's
Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship

From their site:

When the Whydah sank in 1717, it was believed that nearly four-and-a-half tons of treasure, her captain—notorious pirate Sam Bellamy— and 143 others went down with her. Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship is an exhibit that uses the actual artifacts recovered from the wreck site of the Whydah to tell the compelling story of the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever found in American waters.

Real Pirates takes visitors on a virtual journey aboard the mighty Whydah. Each of the 12 exhibit galleries represents a chapter in the ship’s biography, from its initial use as a slave ship to its takeover in the Caribbean by pirates to its demise in one of the worst nor’easters ever to hit Cape Cod.


According to Bayard on the Strait Dope, it's a little heavy on the -tainment part of the infotainment, but it looks fun and I would definitely check it out if I had the chance.

The Coolest Thing I've Seen Today, Dec. 1, 2007

Some Pirate managed to stave off scurvy long enough to create this intense level of awesome in his back yard:

and there's much, much more,

check it out at This Flickr Page

Sir, I salute you.

(thanks to BMalion of the Strait Dope)

What the *$^% is a: Cooper?

A Cooper

A cooper is person who makes barrels. Barrels are extremely important aboard ship because they hold fresh water among pretty much everything else. Having a cooper aboard ship means that you can fix these barrels and make more if necessary.

While this skill probably wasn't a skill that kept a person busy all the time, being a cooper was definitely enough to make a man valuable.

Pirate Symbols: The Sparrow

The Sparrow

The Sparrow is a prestigious piratical tattoo, it is worn by a sailor who has sailed all seven seas. Like their piratical counterparts, Sparrows range far and wide and are found on 6 of the 7 continents.

The tattoo above is an homage to Captain Jack Sparrow of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, who also takes his name from the far flung foul.