The image of hard-partying pirates who roamed the open seas during the Golden Age of Piracy is one that Hollywood has definitely perpetuated over the years. Between their swashbuckling adventures, which of course involved plenty of hard work and hand to hand combat as they overtook merchant ships, pirates are said to have loved to drink. The question is, how close to the truth is this portrayal of men (and a few tough women) who drank just about any booze they could get their hands on? Read on to find out the answer!
Accessibility to Alcohol
Stowing fresh water during sea voyages was a constant issue because it eventually became stagnant. Most types of alcohol, on the other hand, could withstand the conditions aboard a ship for a significantly longer period of time, which made it an ideal addition to the stagnant water that was available to drink. This made the water not only taste better, it also made it safe to ingest. So essentially, pirates ended up consuming variations of a watered-down alcoholic drink, whether it contained wine, brandy, rum, etc, in order to stay hydrated. In addition, most ships provided a daily ration of alcohol to keep the spirits of the crew up. Because the environment on most pirate ships was much more relaxed than other sailing operations, many pirates would have at least have some alcohol in their bloodstream at any given moment, whether they were working or not.
Why Rum Became their Go-to Drink
As most successful pirate ships spent a great deal of time sailing the Caribbean waters in search of riches, they got their hands on plenty of rum. The distilled liquor was widely available in the area, where it was produced in massive amounts. The rum trade was a huge part of the economy in the Caribbean, and ships often transported large quantities of it. As pirates overtook ships heading for countries such as Britain, France and Spain, they naturally held the crews at ransom and either kept the ships for themselves or stole whatever money and valuable items that could found on board. This often meant vast amounts of rum which they sometimes traded in various ports but typically drank the majority of themselves.
A Wild Lifestyle
While not every pirate was a drinker and party animal, the majority enjoyed drinking whatever alcohol might be available. From beer to brandy, pirates loved to have a good time, especially when they were at port in their off-time. Most pirates lived up to their rowdy reputation with their crew mates whether they were out at sea or on dry land. Working on a pirate ship was a grueling job for most, which gave pirates even more reason to toast to one another, even if it was just to pat themselves on the back for making it through another day.