A Pirate Ship’s Crew

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No matter whether a ship was the property of pirates, the Royal Navy or merchants they all had one thing in common; they required a crew to run them and keep them afloat. Take a look below at what was expected of the pirate ship’s crew.


A Pirate Ship’s Crew

A pirate ship’s crew was a little different from the crew that ran legitimate naval or commercial vessels. There was a mix of experienced sailors and those who didn’t know a rope from a mop.

Some pirates were once legitimate sailors who already had experience with the navy while many were rogues and stowaways who learned on the job working their way up the ranks. If the pirate crew was particularly successful, it may also have attracted (or kidnapped) crew members with specialties such as medical skills, carpentry or musical talent; these people needed no sailing experience to be accepted aboard.


All hands on deck!

The majority of the crew would, however, be sailors and as a result the running of the ship would be fairly smooth; they knew what needed to be done on board and, more importantly, how to do it. Of course as they were not traditional navy vessels certain positions were not needed to suit the more equitable and democratic system the pirates preferred. In this way most pirate ships were actually kinder to the crew than Naval vessels; abuse and misuse were no longer the norm.


Council of Thieves

The formation of a pirate crew included the formation of the council; every pirate was a member of this council and no important decisions were made for the crew without the approval of this council. The decisions of this council were sacrosanct; not even the Captain had the authority to go against them. Pirates were radical and unique in this sense; in all other institutions the Captain was the absolute authority on a ship. The only exceptions were if he were the Captain of a merchant vessel in which case he would answer to the owners of the ship, or if he were in the Navy – in which case he answered to superior officers.


How did the pirate ship’s crew elect their captains?

Pirate Captains were elected by their peers, and were generally considered to be superior in their knowledge and bravery. “Pistol Proof,” they were called, and could make those fear him who didn’t love him. However, if he were tyrannical or incompetent or cowardly the council could get rid of him and make him just a pirate again. There is one occasion on which a crew changed their Captain 13 times in one year!


Find out just how “pistol proof” the captain of the Jolly Roger Pirate ship in Cancun is by joining us to cruise the Caribbean.