Thursday, July 19, 2007

Boarding Ship

Nearly every pirate movie ever made has a scene with the pirates swinging from one ship to the other.

What are those ropes attached to?

Pirate ships normally had 1-3 masts. You can't swing from these. You would be too high by the time you got to the other ship.

If the ship is square-rigged then it has one or more yards - horizontal spars that hold up the sail. There might be more than one on a mast but you can only swing from the lowest. Use a higher yard and you will run into the lower one with comical results. You also have to be careful not to run into the sail that hangs from the yard.

So we have at most three pirates swinging onto an opposing ship at a time. Not very effective.

The movies get around this by attaching the ropes to something off-camera.

In a later post I will describe how a real pirate battle was fought.

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