1. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Starting a Pirate Story, Any Ship research ideas?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Gammer, Feb 18, 2012.

    Hello all, I want to start a pirate story about an escaped slave who turns pirate for the freedom but there's so many nooks and crannies about sailing and ships that I'm not sure where to begin my research or even what to research first. Any suggestions or idea on where to start?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    For ships/sailing: You can probably find information about ships of the era in the library (as far as how they were built, sailed, etc). I would suggest also checking out the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, as they have information on locating ship's logs, passenger lists, etc. Also, if there are any lakes (or oceans) near you where they have sailboats, you'll probably find a number of people who would be willing to help you with basic sailing knowledge.

    As to pirates, the History Channel has had several programs about them - you might check out their website for resources.
     
  3. shelabama
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    shelabama Member

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    I would also take a trip to the library! Look through History books and maybe even some "how to" books on sailing, so you at least have an idea of what's going on with the boat. You might also have some luck searching for old, located ship wreck articles. It seems like someone is always finding a ship under the sea somewhere.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You might think about reading Patrick O'Brian's series about Captain Jack Aubrey. They're about the Navy and not really about pirates, but there's a ton of accurate detail in those books about how sailing ships were handled and navigated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
     
  5. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps take a look at this site. It is all rather jolly but is not without substance, it seems. Plenty of stuff about the ships and so on.

    http://www.thepirateking.com/index.htm

    Quite an impressive effort, really.
     
  6. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    I've written four pirate novels. Before I began I bought and constructed model ships of that era, it gave me an intimate understanding of the structure as well as the terminology. I didn't know a yardarm from a mizzenmast before doing this. You will become familiar with the cannon deck, the capstan that reeled in the anchor and the entire ship.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It is meticulous work, this is one of the men, a stob that the rigging ties to and a pulley you have to tie the rigging to.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. MVP
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    MVP Member

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    @Felipe...awesome idea, how long did it take you to construct everything?
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, you can read period books like the Sharpe and Hornblower series. I know they're about the British Royal Navy, not pirates, but they'll give you the basic ideas of the different parts of a ship from that era.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    great work, felipe!... were these plastic/wood model kits, or did you carve all the pieces yourself?
     
  10. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    It took weeks including the rigging, the rigging is actually thread that runs from the end of the yardarms (the poles the sails hang from) to the decks so that the sails could be tacked or turned. By tacking, furling and unfurling the sails, they could slow down, speed up or turn sharply. If you look closely at the first ship, there is a chicken coop (painted green) on the stern so the smell will blow away and they still had fresh meat while spending weeks at sea. I was recovering from knee surgery so it gave me something to do. Building the models made me really familiar with the construction so in my tradition, I sat and sipped rum on the porch and had a smoke. I imagined a sea battle and quickly wrote it down the next morning while it was fresh on my mind. I then researched naval sea tactics of that time and was blown away as they really did this. My pirates also consist of freed slaves and a few other men of Spanish descent and one Frenchman. They freed the slaves by killing their owners then in a daring act, stole a large warship anchored at port on a moonless night. Sailing a Spanish warship, they don't raise alarm when they approach another Spanish vessel. They learn that a gold shipment is leaving Veracruz with only one escort and lay their plans...

    Andreas rang the bell and everyone came to the pavilion. When they all were seated in a circle he took a long stick and drew in the dirt.

    “In three days a galleon loaded with gold will leave Veracruz. She only has one escort. They will take the northern trade route through the Gulf of Mexico and lay over in Havana to take on extra water for the voyage as they always do.”

    He traced the route in the dirt as they all looked. He then drew the line north past the tip of Florida and north of the Bahamas.

    “We will wait on the northernmost island until they pass and then fall in behind her.” He drew two small ovals being followed by another. “We will let her get two days out to sea so that no other ships can come to her aid and then we will make our run. The Sanchia is heavily laden and we can easily catch and pass her. We will be flying a Spanish flag and are in a Spanish vessel, still as we approach, her escort will slow and come between us as escorts are required to do.” he drew the positions of the ships.

    “When we come alongside her escort we will fire a broadside into her. Out of thirty cannons, with some marksmanship and luck, at least four or five should strike her at or just above the waterline. The prevailing winds blow from the northwest and the waves will be breaking on her side bringing water in. She will be forced into a tight starboard turn, this will keel her over and bring the holes up out of the water.” he drew an arc as the ship turned and then another right beside it.

    “We will shadow her turn and as more of her keel tilts up we will reload and fire another salvo even lower into her hull than the first. She will not be able to straighten out because these holes will go beneath the waterline as she straightens and she will sink quickly. She will be forced into a spiral. At that angle she cannot bring her guns to bear on us, they will be tilted much too high and we will close the range, all of her shots will clear our masts.

    Eventually she will not be able to lean any further, any hole that we then can punch in her then will begin the sinking process. Once she starts taking on water she will not be able to maintain the turn and as she rights herself, all of the holes in her hull will take on water. She will then sink very quickly.” he stopped and looked at the men.

    “And what of the other Galleon? Will she not come to her defense? Batu asked.

    “She is too heavily laden to keep up with our maneuvers, let alone fight. Her first priority is the preservation of the gold and she knows that as heavily as she is loaded, one well placed cannonball will sink her. She will turn and run for the mainland. We can easily catch her.” Andreas said.

    “An excellent plan messier, as always.” Jeanne Pierre said.

    “I am glad that you approve Jean Pierre, you shall direct the cannon fire.” Andreas said and Jean Pierre nodded his head.

    “I spent time talking to a few of the sailors in a tavern. They do not want to make this voyage, the ship is seriously overloaded. They fear pirates and this is the high season for tempests that come from the west. If they do come into bad weather they will sink. They do not get a share of this gold, they are just simple working men who want to return safely to their families.” Andreas paused and looked at the men.

    “We shall, of course, kill any and all of the king’s soldiers who fight when we take her, but if any of the sailors surrender I think that we should spare their lives and just let them return to their families. Are there any objections?” He looked at the men and then Felipe. Felipe just nodded his head.

    Andreas looked around at the men and there were no other questions. The men were smiling and talking quietly among themselves and were obviously anxious to claim their share of gold. “Very well then, we sail in the morning.”
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if they were kits, they must be the top of the line... what's the brand name?... i've always loved model kits, my first try was the first lunar landing module...
     
  12. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    I believe they were Revell, but I'm not home right now.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's most likely what my lunar lander was, too... i also tried some balsa ones... a lot harder than the plastic, and then some!
     
  14. modus
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    modus Member

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    I'm doing the same research as you, but I'm also looking into modern battleships (probably the fiercest-looking weaponry mankind has ever produced)

    I looked through the library and found Ships of the World by Lincoln Paine. It's an encyclopedic collection of ships from so many eras and cultures it makes my head spin. It gives the specs of all the ships right away then goes into a narrative about how the ship was used. Just flipping through some entries, there are a lot of very interesting stories behind these ships, enough for a writer to come up with several ideas based off the events. You might wanna check this book out.

    It won't teach me what I need to know about the anatomy of ships though. Felipe's models look fantastic and very rewarding, but I don't have time or money for that. If anyone runs across a good resource that labels and explains the anatomy of pirate-era ships, please let me know!
     

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