• Imagining History

Pirate Ships - Quick Facts for Kids

Updated: Oct 5



Pirates didn't sail in just one particular type of ship. They were opportunistic and would often steal their ships (after all, they were pirates!) and then rename the ship to something suitably piratey. The other way to acquire a pirate ship would be for a regular crew to mutiny and get rid of the captain, in this way ANY type of ship could become a pirate vessel.


But there were a few features a pirate would look for in their ideal ship:


Speed: The ideal pirate ship would be fast and agile to catch up with their target and then make a quick escape to avoid capture.


Size: A pirate ship needs to be big enough to house a large pirate crew PLUS all of their plunder (pirate ships were more heavily manned than any other ships) but small enough to keep it fast and light in the water. They also need plenty of crew to put off any merchant ships trying to resist their raid - a horde of slobbering pirates will prevent anyone from getting brave.

Hull: The wooden hull needed to have a shallow draft. This allowed them to make an escape from the larger and heavier ships through shallow waters. Massive and very dangerous Man 'O War ships would be grounded if they tried to give chase.

Decks: A pirate crew would often have to reinforce their ship's decks to support the weight of many heavy cannons. Six was the minimum amount of cannons required for a pirate ship but some had may more. The infamous Blackbeard's ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, had a stonking forty cannons onboard. That bigger broadside could reduce a merchant ship to matchsticks in seconds.



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