Discovering a Pirates Life of Myths and Legends

For one of our day break trips, we took a ride through Delaware and attended the BOWERS BEACH BUCCANEER BASH. The bash took us back to the late 17th & early 18th centuries through historical presentations and demonstrations of the Pirate’s lives along Delaware Bay.

We we’re greeted by pirate men and women dressed in stunningly gorgeous attire straight off the pirate ships of Delaware Bay. They sang songs of glory, drunken defeat, and the seas they traveled in days long past.

My first eye-catching stand was the beautiful hand made furniture and clothing set in the pirate era. I was excited to see how talented pirates actually were in creating their own fine comforts, be it for home or on the sea.

Handmade pirate furniture
Handmade pirate furniture

We watched as they shot off the cannons and demonstrated melee and ranged weapons of choice during Pirate raids and wars. The cannons were loud and gave the area a small push of force, as if the ground just tore from underneath you, but the wonder of the demonstration was the size of the cannon. Not exactly the size aboard a Pirate ship, but heavy in power all the same. I could only imagine the full force of a ship cannon during a battle out at sea.

The weapons demonstration was unique in itself giving us a closer look at the cutlass, dagger, musket, and some other bludgeon weapons. We learned the effective distance of each weapon, accuracy, and their deadly results.  I had to smile a bit as I pictured this gentleman playing Assassin’s Creed with those weapons instead of the Xbox controller in hand.

Pirate women were rare but they were just as deadly and smart
Pirate women were rare but they were just as deadly and smart

Along my way I met with a pirate woman who talked about some pirate souvenirs and common sea faring gadgets. We saw a pirate’s compass, spyglass, tools, and even some hand made concoctions used for medicine back in the day. These herbs would help with sleep, indigestion, and other common ailments and diseased that those curious Pirates would catch along the way.

we discovered the myths and realities associated with the lives of pirates

Alas in our journey through the Buccaneer Bash, we discovered the myths and realities associated with the lives of the pirate men and women during the Golden Age of Piracy . The Pirate Crewes recreated the days of pirates via period costumes, accoutrements and activities while we learned about treasures, battles, and ship life. We watched as they prepared pirate foods and beverages while entertaining us with local pirate lore, literature and folk tales. And all through the beauty of this event, through the legend and lore of the battles and the discoveries, we still saw joy and happiness shared among the crowd to celebrate the life and death of their fellow pirates.

A gathering of pirates sharing stories
A gathering of pirates sharing stories

Pirate History

Like the gangster, we imagine the pirate as someone with talent who has been led astray—someone who could have been a lawful leader if he hadn’t been lured by crime. In the movies, these glamorous pirates were portrayed by the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp.

We’ll never really know, however, what real pirates actually looked like or the details of their personalities. The most famous include Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, William Kidd, Bartholomew Roberts, and women, too—Mary Read and Anne Bonny, among them.

Our contemporary image of pirates came out of the Golden Age of Piracy (1690 – 1730), when pirates sailed the seas and operated outside the law, taking what wasn’t theirs—gold and silver, molasses, rum, spices, cloth, anchors and rope. It was the job of every pirate captain to determine what ships were worthy of pursuit.

The Captain had to be a natural leader and enforce the ship’s own laws

Pirates came from a variety of backgrounds, but they were customarily sailors. Because hundreds of pirates could live together on a large ship, life at sea was a democracy. The captain was elected, however, because he had to lead a contingent of men who could easily become bored and hostile to each other, he had to be a natural leader and enforce the ship’s own laws, sometimes through his own personal strength. The crew shared the spoils, with the captain and the higher-ranked crew getting extra.

Rules were clearly articulated at the beginning of each voyage by the captain, and anyone who attempted to run away, keep a key secret, steal, attack another, smoke in the hold without a cap on his pipe, carry around a lit candle without a lantern, or failed to keep his arms clean (to name a few infractions) could be marooned or whipped. A pirate could be condemned to death for sexually violating a woman against her will.

Perhaps the worst fate for a pirate was to become disabled—men were compensated for the loss of fingers, limbs and eyes. But there was little discrimination against disability if a pirate had a talent or agility deemed essential to running the ship. Although the character of Captain Hook is fictional, there were men at sea who had lost body parts and lived to tell the tale.

Pirates treasures
Pirates treasures

When on land, pirates tended to spend all of their hard-earned money on lots of drinking, gambling and whoring. If pirates were captured, they were hanged, unless they ratted on the other men. Sometimes they were hanged anyway.

Women, in disguise, sometimes served on pirate ships, but their discovery could mean death. Even the famous female pirates were cross-dressers with a talent for weaponry and fighting. Literature has stoked the reputation of women pirates, with lots of fictional tales based on the legends of real women.

Piracy, as we have come to know it, died out in the late 1720s. It lives on today in a word that is used to describe the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted materials, mostly films.

Helpful Research Pirate Facts

  • Pirates often didn’t get enough vitamin C while on long voyages which resulted in them getting a disease called “crickets” that caused them to go blind in one eye. This is why pirates often are depicted wearing eye-patches.
  • When a pirate said “shiver me timbers” it was actually a request for another pirate to shave an especially difficult to reach portion of his back. While pirates would allow their faces and chests to get hairy, there was a strong superstition against hairy backs. By the way, “shiver” means “shave” and “timbers” means “lower back.”
  • Blackbeard’s peg leg was a medical necessity, he lost his leg to diabetes, but all the other pirates got wooden legs as a fashion choice. Some of the peg legs used by pirates were actually quite gaudy and covered in jewels.
  • The combination to Davy Jones’ Locker was right 32, left 17, right 26.
  • The golden age of pirates was 1764-1856, but there are still pirates today. Today’s pirates are not the colorful figures of the past, just boring pretenders to the throne.
  • Although much is made of the fact that pirates used the phrase “arrrrrr”, actual pirates actually punctuated their sentences with the letter “q.” For instance, “Q, me treasure is over there, matey.”
pirates didn't really say
pirates didn’t really say “arrrr”
  • Gilbert and Sullivan were the two most dangerous pirates to ever live. Born conjoined twins, they were finally blown apart during a vicious sea battle with a British Major General when an errant cannonball struck their shared hip. While together, they were considered to be the King of Pirates. Apart, they were forced to retire to a life in the theater, reenacting their final battle in Penzance for pennies a day.
  • While it was perfectly fine to use an enemies skull as a goblet, it was considered rude to use their entire vivisected head as a puppet. Especially if you mocked them by making their own head talk in a high-pitched voice.
  • Female pirates were very common and much prized for their hair-free lower backs.
  • Maps with x’s to mark the spot are a creation of the movies, pirates would simply memorize where they left their treasure and communicate it to others through dance.

What do you think of our Pirate discoveries? Do you think you could be cut out to live the Pirates Life?

Check out more of our pirate photos from our Bowers Buccaneers Gallery and let us know your thoughts below.

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4 thoughts on “Discovering a Pirates Life of Myths and Legends

    1. Thank you granonine! We love history too! There is so much to learn and discover, we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg with all the history in our world right? And Pirates? Oh my how fascinating, even if I could never live that life, it was their history that intrigued me! =)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. I do think we tend to glorify what wasn’t really very glorious. They were outlaws, and most of them didn’t hesitate to murder if it suited their needs. Still, it was an exciting and interesting life.

        Liked by 1 person

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