All hands on deck! Raise the anchor and lower the sails, we’re headed east! ‘I command, my crew executes’. In order to succeed, hierarchy is needed, even for free men like us. As we exit the harbor and head east towards open waters we can see the sunrise, truly a wonderful sight. Nothing beats a clear blue sky and a rising sun on the horizon, never gets old.
Water as far as the eye can see, a vast ocean looks as majestic as impressive. The ocean holds many secrets and homes some of the world’s most majestic and mysterious creatures. We call it home too. Pirates, sea rovers, buccaneers, outlaws. Whatever they might call us, we see ourselves as free men. We bow for no king, we make our own rules and live by our own Pirate Code. We can basically do whatever we want, whenever we want, plunder whoever we want, whenever we want. As for today, no different. We are setting course for open waters and from there we set sail southeast. We are headed for the Indian Ocean to hunt down trading ships and plunder their cargo.
The Pirate Round was a sailing route created by Thomas Tew in 1693. By sailing from the Caribbean across the Atlantic Ocean towards the northwest part of Africa. From there they would sail south along the coast of Africa, plundering vessels on the way. Next they would sail around the southern tip of Africa and sail into the Indian Ocean. There they would target ships in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
We sail southeast along the shores of Africa, then we double the Cape of Good Hope and sail through the Mozambique Channel to the northeastern part of Madagascar. We will careen and refit our ship there and take fresh provisions before heading towards the Indian Ocean. Madagascar belongs to us pirates, we can come and go as we please. Madagascar is a safe haven for pirates, we use it to stock up on supplies, offload goods and plan attacks on East Indiamen and Mughal ships. The next part of our voyage is going to be a lot harder. So far, we have just been sailing and havent encountered any ships. That’s going to change. Tomorrow we set sail and we will intercept, rob, plunder and destroy East Indiamen and Mughal ships.
Did you know Madagascar was used as an outpost by pirates, a trading company solely intended to supply pirates with the necessities of clothing, powder, shot and rum after their voyages. They could even careen and refit their ships here. A true ‘Pirate Safe Haven’.
I hear a loud bell and a voice screaming ‘SHIP IN SIGHT!’. It’s my man up in the crows-nest. He’s seen a ship. He screams again ‘SHIP IN SIGHT, STARBOARD!’. We can now all see the big East Indiaman sailing to our right. The ship is sailing west, it’s coming our direction. This is going to be easy, sailing right in to our cannon’s range. ‘Man the cannons and get ready to fire!’ The cannons are already loaded, so my men run up to the cannons and get ready to fire. While the ship is getting closer towards us, it seems it’s getting quieter around us. There’s pure silence before we engage the target. I break the silence with a loud ‘FIRE!’, followed by 24 cannons unleashing hell upon the East Indiaman. Most of the cannonballs hit target, some of them fly over or end up left or right. But the canons that did hit, did major damage. First you hear the impact on the ship, you can hear the wood snapping and breaking. Then the screaming starts, grown man screaming it out from excruciating pain. Limbs came off, heads blown off. Pieces of wood blown into people’s faces and torn off people’s limbs on impact. The cannonballs did their job and shredded the enemy ship and sailors to pieces. We haven’t even boarded yet and we already butchered them. We throw our boarding hooks and climb aboard their ship. The men that are injured too much are being executed on the spot. A quick stab in the heart with a sharp blade does the job. Men healthy and fit to fight are offered to join my crew or join their own crew in death. When given the chance, they always join my crew. Their captain I have no use for, throw him overboard. ‘Grab all you can and load our ship!’
Every pirate ship had its own set of rules. A so called ‘Pirate Code’.
Here are some common rules to feature in the Pirate Code: no fighting aboard the pirate ship, unless in battle and defense. No gambling. No women (not all ships had this rule). Pirates must be ready and armed for battle at all times. Equal amounts of food and beverages for all pirates. All pirates abide by the orders of the Captain or Quartermaster
While the crew is busy loading our ship with the just obtained booty, another ship is spotted. It’s a Dutch East Indian Company ship. Bigger than the ship we just boarded, this is going to be a price. We lower the sails and start chasing down the ship, the wind is in our backs and we gain speed. We’re going to catch them. We sail behind them, and as we almost sail alongside them we fire chain-shots aimed at their sails. The chain-shots get tangled with the lines, rip their sails and break parts of their mast on impact, their main mast is coming down. We now sail alongside them, my crew is standing ready at the cannons. On my command they unleash hell upon the Dutch East Indian ship, ‘FIRE!’. All shots are hits, their ship has taken severe damage and they’re panicking. We board this ship too. As I yell ‘BOARD THEIR SHIP’ I throw my boarding hook onto their deck and pull back on the rope. The hook is stuck on their ship and I can climb across. I step aboard, all around me I see death and destruction. The ship is covered in smoke because of the cannons that were just fired. It’s hard to see what’s going on within all the chaos around me. There’s men sword fighting everywhere. I also can’t escape the situation and have to fight for my life. I duck down as someone swings his sword over my head. I see chance and chop his legs off. He screams it out, I laugh it out. Him or me I think. I’ve got my eyes on the captain, I charge him. He blocks my incoming slashes and hits me in my face. I swing my sword from right to left and up and down, I make him look at my sword, put his focus there. I grab my pistol with my left hand from my belt and shoot the captain right through his head while he focused on my sword. He never even saw me grab my pistol. The captain is now dead, the fight is over and the remaining enemy crew surrenders. We take their cargo and offer the surviving men to join our crew or die with their own. And again, they all join our crew.
Now with a crew twice the size and a ship fully loaded with stolen goods, we sail back to Madagascar. Repair, careen and refit our ship, load up on provisions and head back to Nassau tomorrow. Tonight we sing and drink grog! A pirate’s life for me.
Grog was the most popular pirate drink. Grog is a mixture of rum, water lemon juice and sugar.