Friday, October 24, 2008

We bought a boat

We bought a "new: boat on ebay. Not the three-mast pirate ship. We bought a 17' Whitehall Pulling Boat. This is a 19th century adaptation of a 17th century boat. It is long and fairly narrow with a wine glass transom (the rear end narrows like the silhouette of a wine glass - I've always loved these). These boats are known for being really fast rowers and good sailing boats.

Ours was made in 1987 at Mystic Seaport by the man who started the boat shop there. It comes with a sprit-rigged sail like the one I made for my dingy but bigger and with a boom at the bottom.

It should hold 4-5 people with two rowing stations. I'll have to figure a way for mounting a swivel gun. I'll probably clamp a short post to the side (one on each side) and use my small swivel gun.

It will be a while before I can go to pick it up. More later.

Here's the wineglass transom.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The ebay pirate ship

You really can find anything on ebay. There is a pirate ship currently listed. The description is:
2006 75' Sailboat Triple Mast Pirate Ship Replica Style Vehicle Description
What can I say about this boat that the pictures don't? It is a 2006 Custom Built Composite(Marine Plywood/fiberglass/marine plywood/fiberglass) Hulled 75+ ' Sailboat with a 60.4' Waterline length. It drafts 7.5' and has a wide beam of 15'. It weighs in at 33 ton. The decks are built of wood as are the masts! It has 14 sails and is powered by an electric motor for docking capable of 3 knots. This vessel has 4 staterooms! The bildge pump kicks on every 5 minutes. It needs some minor work and cleanup to make it right but is a steal at this price. The builder spent over $300k to build this boat.
For those environmentally correct pirates, it is solar powered.

Nothing about the number of cannons or even cannon ports.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crusoe vs the Pirates

The pilot of the new NBC series Crusoe featured pirates. The series is loosely based on Robinson Crusoe. Very loosely. With a lot of other influences.

A big influence was the movie Swiss Family Robinson which was Robinson Crusoe with a family. In the Disney movie a family was shipwrecked on an island and built an elaborate tree house. Crusoe manages to build a comfortable tree house of his own. The Swiss Family also fought off pirates with traps. Crusoe does the same.

One thing I really liked - an accurate depiction of gunpowder. Gunpowder will not fire if it is wet but it can be dried again. Also, a bullet fired into a barrel will not set it off. It will just make a hole in the barrel. We see this in Crusoe.


Near the end of the pilot, Crusoe needs to detonate a barrel of gunpowder at a distance. He stuck the iron scouring stick (aka ramrod) in the barrel of his gun and heated the end of it then fired it into the barrel.

Would this actually work? Maybe. Touching a red hot piece of iron to gunpowder would set it off. There are a few other factors:

1) How straight does a scouring stick fly when shot out of a musket? Would it travel like a spear with the heated end first?

2) After traveling a distance, would the hot end cool off or would it still be hot enough to set off the powder?

3) Would a red hot scouring stick penetrate a barrel or would it flatten? The end would have been pretty soft.

This seems like something that the Mythbusters should try.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Defending (reenactor) Pirates

When I was at the Grande Muster at Saint Mary's City, one of the militia members complained to me about the pirate reenactors. As far as he was concerned, pirates were nothing but rapists, thieves, and murderers and he didn't know why anyone would want to recreate that. I can answer that.

First, there is some irony when someone who reenacts colonial militia complains about anyone else. after all, the colonists were stealing from, killing, and raping the Indians. The militia was there to keep down the Indians as much as anything.

Regardless, pirates have been romanticized since the GAoP. The first couple of books on pirates were written from first-hand experience and are still in print (here, and here). While everything the reenactor said about pirates is true, they also had some admirable traits. They were a rare example of democracy and meritocracy. Everyone got a vote. They chose their captain and, if he wasn't successful, they would choose a new captain.

Piracy also offers military reenactors a chance to cut loose a bit. A lot of military reenactment is marching and doing things as a unit. Pirates had to work as an effective unit but they didn't have (or need) the military discipline that military units have. It also allows for a great deal of individuality.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pirates invade Maryland

I was at the Grande Muster at Saint Mary's City, Maryland. This was Maryland's original capitol. The muster is a gathering of 17th century reenactors. Usually they represent colonial militia or units from the English Civil War or the 30 Years War. All three of these were represented, as usual, but an additional group showed up - the Sea Rats of the Atlantic who are pirates. They also brought a small rowboat.

In addition, a trio of people from Henricus colony near modern Richmond brought a really nice boat. We figured it up and it could hold ten.

Saturday afternoon features a tactical battle. Because the number of reenactors has been dropping for years, it was suggested that we just fight an imaginary foe. Then the Sea Rats told us how many people they had. We ended up fighting them.

Of course, they were slaughtered. Not only were they outnumbered, but our side has some really good musketeers. Everyone had fun.

On Sunday we launched both boats then stormed the camp from the water. We had a mixture of Sea Rats and colonial troops attacking. The rest of the Sea Rats helped the Saint Mary's Militia fight off the attack (even though we successfully stormed the gun emplacement).

This was so much fun that it will be the tactical event next year.

After that I got to go sailing on the bigger boat. It did pretty well but the wind was weak and fitful so we didn't get very far.

An award is given to the best group. This year the Sea Rats got it.

Next year there will be two events at Saint Mary's City. In addition to the fall muster, they will celebrate Maryland's 375th anniversary on June 20. That event will feature several tall ships.

The Sea Rats' camp.

A couple of marooned pirates.

Lining up for the award ceremony.

Setting up the boats.