Have you ever wondered how to be a pirate, like in the stories? Who can blame you? Pirates are one of the most popular historical professions to this day.
So, how does one be the best pirate one can be? As Captain Barbossa quipped in Pirates of the Caribbean, “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
Following these guidelines will give you a heads-up on how to become a pirate and what it takes to be an amazing one for any occasion.
It Takes One to Know One
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, start by honoring the real-life pirates that inspired the look. Learn how to act like a pirate from the real history of piracy, including famous pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Captain Kidd. The first step in how to act like a pirate is doing your research!
Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, was among the most infamous pirates in the early 18th century. He gained notoriety for his intimidating appearance and ruthless behavior. Take a cue from Blackbeard by imitating his penchant for theatrics. He used the free real estate provided by his namesake to tie slow-burning fuses to it. During battle, he would light these fuses, giving the appearance that he was burning with rage.
Captain Kidd, also known as William Kidd, began his pirate life contracted by the English government as a so-called ‘privateer.’ Over time, he transitioned into a true pirate and became infamous for his antics. Being brave, bold, and cocky was in his nature. Adopting these crude but tried-and-true pirate traits can help convince others that you have a pirate’s heart.
Understanding their motivations and challenges can provide legitimacy to your portrayal.
Know Your Ship
Yes, pirates have a reputation for being drunken brawlers, stumbling through town in search of their next mark. To navigate treacherous water, a pirate must be capable aboard a ship. After all, in the sea shanty, ‘Drunken Sailor,’ a drunken sailor is viciously punished.
To be a pirate meant to be well-versed in the language of the ship. Start by learning about navigation, seamanship, and other maritime skills to understand the challenges pirates face at sea.
Throwing phrases into your vocabulary will improve your pirate portrayal. Here is a quick list to memorize:
- ‘Aye, aye, Captain’: A respectful acknowledgment of an order or instruction from the captain, indicating both understanding and willingness to comply.
- ‘Avast ye’: A command to stop or cease an action immediately, often used to halt the hoisting or lowering of sails.
- ‘Hard alee’: A command to quickly turn the helm to leeward (away from the wind), initiating a rapid change in direction.
- ‘Haul win’: To sail quickly, often with a favorable wind, indicating a ship’s speed and efficiency.
Using these phrases intermittently will have your fellow revelers seeing you as the true pirate you are.
Dress the Part!
Last but not least, you must look the part. Unless you’re aiming for a modern internet pirate, a T-shirt and jeans will not do. Rather, many resources, both online and in person, sell true-to-life pirate attire. Check out our guide to dressing like a pirate for helpful DIY tips. Otherwise, here are some tips from the real-life pirate crew of the Pirate Ship Royal Conquest!
Focus on combining rugged and weathered elements with a touch of swashbuckling style. Start with a loose-fitting white or off-white shirt with billowy sleeves that can be rolled up. Layer a vest or waistcoat over the shirt for a touch of refinement. Add a wide belt with a large buckle to cinch your waist, and carry a cutlass or pirate-style belt knife. A pair of worn and tattered pants tucked into tall leather boots contributes to the rugged appearance.
Don’t forget to adorn yourself with a few accessories like a tricorn hat, an eye patch, and a scarf or bandanna tied around your head. Drape a faux leather or weathered cloak over your shoulders for added drama. Rings, earrings, and even a prop pistol or flintlock tucked into your belt will complete the look. Embracing the pirate aesthetic is channeling the daring and free-spirited nature while adding your unique flair.
The Bottom Line
Pirates have always held a place of fascination and allure in the vast oceans of history and fiction. From their fearless adventures to their unyielding spirit, there’s something undeniably captivating about the pirate’s life.
While we might not all have the Caribbean at our doorstep or a ship awaiting in the harbor, we can certainly embrace the swashbuckling spirit within. So, hoist your colors, keep the compass close, and remember — a pirate finds a way in every challenge or endeavor. May the winds ever be in your favor, matey!
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