How Much Do You Know About Pirate Ships and Weapons?

Maria Trimarchi

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Rumor has it that piracy has been around as long as people have been on the water, and there's good evidence to prove that. But, when it comes to these swashbuckling rogues, it is the Golden Age of Piracy that most people are thinking about. 

The Golden Age of Piracy is an era that lasted from about 1650 to 1730 and followed the riches coming from gold mining and pillaging of Central and South America as well as the newfound riches of sugar plantations of Caribbean islands and nations. There have been few times in the history of the world that so much wealth in the form of valuables like gold, silver, jewels, and artifacts were transported by sea and you can bet pirates such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Captain Kidd took advantage. 

But this quiz isn't just about real-life pirates. One of the reasons the cutthroats of piracy is so enchanting today, and that is as much a part of the legend, myth, and story-telling of fiction. From books such as "Treasure Island" to TV series such as "Black Sails," the legend lives on. 

So, Avast, ye, scum dogs! Take this quiz and test your worth on pirate ships and weapons. Otherwise, it might be the plank for ye. 

What is the front of the pirate ship called?

The front of the ship is called the bow. The back? That's the stern.

Blackbeard was known for his long, braided beard, the daggers and pistols slung across his body, and his ship, which was named what?

The Queen Anne's Revenge, it's believed, was built in Bristol in 1710 -- and she was named La Concorde, then, not the Queen Anne's Revenge. It was Edward Teach -- more famously known as the pirate Blackbeard -- who would name the ship that when he captured and refitted her with cannons in 1717.

Which type of weapon did pirates most often use for boarding other ships during the Golden Age of Piracy?

The second half of the 17th century into the beginning of the 18th century is considered the Golden Age of Piracy, when thousands of pirates sailed the seas. Their weapon of choice during that time, used to board other ships, was the musketoon, a gun that was both smaller and lighter than the musket.

A blunderbuss is the precursor to what type of modern gun?

The blunderbuss is considered the precursor to the modern shotgun. Typically these guns were loaded with small lead balls -- but it was also common for pirates to load them with random things, such as rocks, wood or scrap iron.

Which type of ship, designed for transporting cargo and easy navigation through the Atlantic Ocean, was commonly used as a pirate ship?

Among the ships most often commandeered and refitted with weapons for piracy was a type of rig called a sloop. This type of boat has a single mast, with a fore and aft sail configuration, and is known for its speed and agility in the water.

During the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates used what precursor to our modern-day grenade?

Used primarily in the 17th century, the "grenado," as it was known, was an early hand grenade. Pirates would fill the small hollow balls -- typically made out of iron, glass, or wood -- with gunpowder.

Which ship was Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts captain of?

Bartholomew Roberts was born as John Roberts, and although he's best known as the pirate "Black Bart," he started his seafaring career as a member of the Royal Navy. His flagship was the Royal Fortune, but he also commanded a fleet of ships and as many as 500 pirates. It's said that Black Bart didn't attack on Sundays.

What is the name of a small dagger, mainly used as a throwing weapon?

The dirk is a small type of dagger, and a popular fighting weapon among pirates. It could have either a single- or double-edged blade, and was primarily used as a throwing weapon.

Who on board a pirate ship was in charge when the captain wasn't around?

At times when the captain wasn't around, it was the quartermaster who, like a first mate, had the authority to command the ship and discipline the men.

Hayreddin "Redbeard" Barbarossa was such as successful pirate he had his own country, named what?

Redbeard, also known as the Ottoman pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa, began as a merchant, not a pirate. But as a pirate, he commandeered not only a fleet of ships, but took what's present-day Algeria, Tunisia, and part of Morocco as his own country, Regency of Algiers.

How heavy was each cannonball that would have been used on light, easily navigable pirate ships such as a pirate sloop?

During the Golden Age of Piracy, cannonballs were based not on their caliber but, rather, on their weight -- and the lighter ships, such as the sloop, typically fired balls between 4 and 8 pounds. Although the onboard cannons could fire more than 1,000 yards, it's not a perfect world -- and the range was closer to just 100 to 200 yards.

What are the sleeping and living quarters below the main deck called on a pirate ship?

The sleeping and living quarters located below the main deck are known as the ship's berth.

In the '80s movie, "The Goonies," what is the name of One-Eyed Willy's ship?

One-Eyed Willy, whose real name was William B. Pordobel, captained a ship named, The Inferno. The Inferno, which was 105 feet long,, was modeled after Errol Flynn's ship in the 1940 film, "The Sea Hawk."

Who on board the pirate ship was in charge of taking care of the ship itself?

The ship's boatswain, also sometimes called a bosun, was responsible for keeping the ship in shape for both sea and for battle. He was also responsible for the ship's deck activities, such as dropping anchor.

Which type of cannon ammunition was filled with sharp objects, such as nails or gravel?

A type of cannon ammunition popular among pirates was a DIY type called the canister shot. These projectiles were made out of a cloth bag filled with sharp objects such as nails, gravel and spikes, and meant to cause a lot of injuries on the deck of the rival ship.

What was "Black Sam" Bellamy's ship, the Whydah, carrying when it sank in 1717?

Pirate Sam "Black Sam" Bellamy was carrying the booty from more than 50 plundered ships on his stolen British slave trader -- which he'd refitted as his flagship, called the Whydah Gally. Bellamy and much of his crew were killed when the Whydah was shipwrecked during a Nor'easter in 1717.

Two cannonballs connected by an iron chain was a type of cannon ammunition called what?

Two (or more) cannonballs connected by an iron chain or bar was a popular pirate ammunition called the bar and chain shot. Typically it was fired to cause damage to the sails and rigging of a rival ship.

Which close-range weapon was the most popular blade in a pirate's arsenal during the Golden Age of Piracy?

The cutlass was one of the most popular bladed weapons in a pirate's arsenal during the Golden Age of Piracy, and pirate lore claims that it was the buccaneers of the Caribbean Sea who invented this blade (although they probably didn't). The cutlass was perfect for hand-to-hand combat, and could cut heavy rope and sail canvas, as well as through flesh and bone.

What is the name of Captain Flint's pirate ship in the book, "Treasure Island"?

Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" was published in the late 19th century, introducing us all to Flint, the pirate captain who would become a popular fictional figure in our pirate stories. Flint, as we originally meet him, captains the pirate ship called The Walrus.

Who is responsible for the guns and ammunition on a pirate ship?

When you're at sea, it's the master gunner who's responsible for the ship's guns and ammunition -- and that entails keeping everything dry, keeping everything stocked, and keeping everything in working order.

What was the name of the 10-gun sloop captained by Major Stede Bonnet, plantation-owner-turned-pirate?

Probably the only pirate ever to purchase his flagship rather than commandeer one, retired British Army Maj. Stede Bonnet was the pirate captain of a sloop he named the Revenge. Bonnet was nicknamed "The Gentleman Pirate" because he gave up a wealthy plantation life for piracy.

What ship was Captain Kidd sailing when he spotted and captured the Quedagh Merchant?

Between 1696 and 1698, Captain William Kidd sailed his 34-gun oared frigate, the Adventure Galley, through the Atlantic and Indian oceans. During his travels and pirating, Kidd captured and commandeered both the Quedagh Merchant and the Rouparelle vessels.

Which type of blade is smaller than a typical knife, and easier to conceal for a surprise attack?

The dagger is a pirate favorite because it's easily concealed and can be used quickly in a surprise attack against an enemy. It has a double-edged blade, and is a bit smaller than a traditional knife. They're used in a thrusting motion, and the cross bar and hilt prevent the wielder's hand from slipping down to the blade.

What was the name of the ship that pirates John "Calico Jack" Rackham, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read sailed together on?

Calico Jack was known for having two women on his ship, fellow pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny (who was also his lover). In 1720, near the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, the trio was captured, convicted and sentenced to death.

Boarding axes aren't known to be effective in battle, so why do pirates have them?

Beyond using it to climb aboard an enemy vessel, you can do a lot of damage to a ship itself with a boarding axe. It's heavy and large, and can cut down everything from riggings and masts to wooden doors.

What was the name of Captain Hook's pirate ship, in "Peter Pan"?

The fictional pirate ship, the Jolly Roger, was Captain Hook's flagship in the adventure story of the Darlings, in "Peter Pan."

What was the role of a cooper on a pirate ship?

Food, water and other necessities were stored in wooden barrels on board pirate ships, and needed someone tasked with keeping them in tip-top condition. The cooper was there for his wooden barrel-making skills, and he was also responsible for inspecting and maintaining those already in use.

How was Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts, one of the most famous pirates, killed?

Black Bart, one of the most famous and believed to be the most successful pirate of the Golden Age, was killed by grapeshot -- small iron balls, taking a hit to the throat during battle against the British naval commander Chaloner Ogle on the warship the Swallow, off the coast of Gabon, West Africa.

What was the British ship, the Charles II, renamed to after British officer Henry Avery led the sailors on board in mutiny?

In 1694, the early part of the Golden Age of Piracy, Henry Avery, an officer on the British ship the Charles II, led the sailors on board in mutiny. The mutineers, turning to piracy, renamed the ship the Fancy.

Pistols were used among Golden Age pirates, but which type did they prefer?

Firearms that used flintlock mechanisms were popular not only among pirates -- for more than 200 years. It's small and light, and popular despite its poor accuracy. You can feel the impact of the flintlock on our vocabulary and common phrases, such as "going off half-cocked" and "a flash in the pan."

The Black Pearl, in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, was originally named the Wicked Wench. Who renamed her?

It may have been Davy Jones who raised her from the sea floor, but he wasn't the one to rename her. Jones and Jack Sparrow strike a deal, where Sparrow will captain the Wicked Wench in turn for serving on Jones' ghost ship, the Dutchman -- and in turn, it's Sparrow who then names the ship the Black Pearl.

Which was a more common punishment than forcing captives to walk the plank?

We all know how the story goes: pirates make you walk the plank. Today, historians believe that while "walking the plank" probably did happen, it wasn't as common as we might believe from our movies and literature. Instead, they used leaving a person to die -- marooning them, selling them into slavery, and something called keelhauling, where a captive is thrown overboard and dragged beneath the ship.

Which type of tool was commonly used during mutinies?

The marlinespike isn't intended to be a weapon. It's a metal tool used on ships to separate, splice, and otherwise maintain the ropework on board the ship. It was often used as an improvised weapon against enemies attempting to board -- and during mutiny.

Most pirate captains ran their ship under what kind of governing system?

Pirate ships were democracies. The captain, for instance, was elected by the vote of the crew -- who could also oust him. They also had a system of taking care of those who were injured, and rules for fairly divvying up the booty.

Which is forbidden on a pirate ship?

Bananas, redheads and whistling are three random things pirates did not want on board their ships. Each is considered bad luck. Bananas? No one's sure why these fruits are considered perilous. Redheads? While seeing one is bad luck, you can curtail that by speaking to them. And whistling on a ship was believed to be bad luck, too, especially if you whistle into the wind (the wind sees that as a challenge).

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