While many people have a romanticized pirates, the reality of their daily life was much different than what most people imagine. Read below to learn more facts about real life for pirates on the open sea centuries ago during the Golden Age of Piracy.
One of the most difficult parts of being a real life pirate was the lack of access to healthy and fresh foods on board. At the beginning of a journey, the ship would be stocked with fresh foods and foods that would keep for a long time. The initial reserves of fresh produce would only last for a couple of weeks at a time. At that point, the pirate’s diet would be centered around dried foods which were the staple food in the pirate’s diet once fresh vegetables and meat were used up. The limited food options aboard a pirate ship were only refreshed once they were able to dock in a port which was often difficult or risky to do.
Another difficult aspect of real pirate life was the lack of good hygiene. With cramped quarters and an excess of men on board, poor hygiene were prevalent on a pirate ship. In addition to having to deal with living with individuals who became ill in such close proximity, the bathroom situation was not ideal. Dirty and unbathed bodies were commonplace. Fresh and clean water was an incredibly valuable resource that was primarily used for drinking water and could not be wasted on personal hygiene. In addition, salt water from the sea would aggravate the skin and often resulted in rashes or uncomfortable irritation due to infrequent bathing. Some pirates even had to deal with seasickness during their adventures. The majority of pirates were accustomed to the movement of the ship, but some pirates would become nauseous and the only remedy would be to get sick over the edge of the ship if they could make it in time!
Danger And Disease
Despite danger that arose with interactions with other ships that they were trying to attack, there was onboard danger among the crew that posed a risk to pirate health as well. Fighting and resulting injuries and infections were common. Some of the most common maladies including broken limbs, wounds or even bacterial infections from an unattended injury that became inflamed. If a pirate happened to fall into the hands of his enemies, he could even risk death! On board his own ship, the lack of personal hygiene and poor diet lacking in nutrients provided by fresh foods made preventable diseases very common.
Did you know that pirates were devoted advocates of democracy? While the pirate captain was able to make executive decisions and have the ultimate say as needed, in general most decisions were made by a democratic vote among crew members. The majority of important and daily decisions were decided by vote. If the crew was divided, and a consensus was not met, at that time the captain would use his power to make the final decision.
We hope you enjoyed this article on real life tidbits about pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy. Which part surprised you the most?