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 Life as a pirate!

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Caliph Jahraka
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Number of posts : 509
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Registration date : 2008-10-22

PostSubject: Life as a pirate!   Fri Jan 02, 2009 4:27 am

In the popular modern imagination, pirates of the classical period were rebellious, clever teams who operated outside the restricting bureaucracy of modern life. Pirates were also depicted as always raising their Jolly Roger-flag when preparing to hijack a vessel. The Jolly roger is the traditional name for the flags of European and American pirates and a symbol for piracy that has been adopted by film-makers and toy manufacturers.

In reality, many pirates ate poorly, and lived off of bananas and limes; most did not become fabulously wealthy, and died young. Unlike traditional Western societies of the time, many pirate crews operated as limited democracies.[60] Both the captain and the quartermaster were elected by the crew; they, in turn, appointed the other ship's officers. The captain of a pirate ship was often a fierce fighter in whom the men could place their trust, rather than a more traditional authority figure sanctioned by an elite. However, when not in battle, the quartermaster usually had the real authority. Many groups of pirates shared in whatever they seized; pirates injured in battle might be afforded special compensation similar to medical insurance.[61] Often all of these terms were agreed upon and written down by the pirates, but these articles could also be used as incriminating proof that they were outlaws. Pirates readily accepted outcasts from traditional societies, perhaps easily recognizing kindred spirits, and they were known to welcome them into the pirate fold. For example as many as 40% of the pirate vessels crews were slaves "liberated" from captured slavers. Such practices within a pirate crew were tenuous, however, and did little to mitigate the brutality of the pirate's way of life.

Even though pirates raided many ships, few, if any, buried their treasure. Often, the "treasure" that was stolen was food, water, alcohol, weapons, or clothing. Other things they stole were household items like bits of soap and gear like rope and anchors. For this reason, there was no need for the pirates to bury these goods.

Pirates almost certainly had a system of hierarchy on board their ships, determining how captured money was distributed. Although this would vary from ship to ship, it is thought that a common distribution would be two shares to the captain, one and a half to the first mate, one and a third to the ship masters (navigator, carpenter, boatswain, gunner), one and a quarter to "plank owners" (crew who owned a share of the ship, often they were members of the original pirate crew that stole the ship, but a plank owner may have acquired a share of ownership for some other reason) and a single share to buccaneers and sailors.
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