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A Day in the Life of a Pirate

Johnny Depp stars in pirate flick Pirates of the Caribbean.
Courtesy of Buena Vista

Piracy on the high seas may seem like all fun and games in films like Pirates of the Caribbean but real-life pirates are a dastardly bunch. We've got the low-down on what it's really like to live like a pirate!

A Pirates Life - Baby Got Booty

A "pirate" is simply a thief on the high seas, so much of a pirate's life would involve villainous activities like threatening, killing, stealing and taking hostages from boats that are isolated at sea. Of course, there's an awful lot of sailing involved in finding your targets and making a speedy get-away, so the bulk of the day would include menial sailing duties (dependant on your rank). Many pirate ships operated as limited democracies where the captain was elected by the crew. The pirates would normally share the booty out among each other - and sometimes give special compensation to those injured in battle. However, life wasn't all that pretty for most pirates. The food was poor, so were health conditions and most pirates died young and fairly broke.

A Pirates Life - Getting Dressed

Many pirates of the Middle Ages are portrayed as wearing tattered rags but pirates were much more likely to wear comfortable clothes that were practical to sail in. Hoop earrings were sometimes worn because it was thought that the pressure the applied to the earlobes would prevent seasickness. Who knew pirates were in to acupressure! The gold jewelry could also provide the money for their funeral, should they be killed. You might also wear the stereotypical eye patches, peg legs and hooks because the life at sea was pretty rough and could lead to the loss of body parts. However, only the richer pirates would be able to afford these devices - they were very expensive at the time!

A Pirates Life - Talk the Talk and Walk the Plank

Commonly used "pirate talk" like "aye matey", "avast" and "arr" is actually a representation of various English dialects. Give it a try on national Talk Like a Pirate Day! Pirates were usually from the lower classes - perhaps it was their poverty that led them to a life of crime - so they usually spoke in accents from poorer regions. Other pirate stereotypes include "walking the plank", which is not exactly as common as it's made to seem. It's thought that captured women were often thrown overboard - but mostly pirates just stabbed or shot people they wanted to kill.

A Pirates Life - Did U Know?

  • Pirates still exist today. Most operate in South East Asia and in South American waters. It's estimated that pirates steal about $13 billion worth of loot per year!
  • The Jolly Roger is the traditional pirate flag.
  • Modern anti-piracy devices include "sonic weapons" that use sound to cause pain, severe dizziness and even eardrum-bursting on the part of pirate.
  • Related Stories:

  • Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest Movie Review
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Movie Review
  • Pirates of the Spanish Main Strategy Game Review
  • More History, Geography and Travel!
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    Is a Pirates Life the Life for You?

    • I'd totally be a pirate!
    • No, I'd rather fight crime.
    • I like the sailing part but not the stealing.
    • I don't know.

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