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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of

The Pirates of
Colonial North Carolina

Hugh F. Rankin
North Carolina
Department of Cultural Resources
Raleigh, 1993

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

[p. vi] How to Know a Pirate Ship

Battleship — one of the largest and most heavily armed and armored vessels, carrying in the battery the largest guns of the period; usually a gun vessel or frigate. The "Scarborough" mentioned on page 45 was of this class.

Bowsprit — A large boom or spar projecting forward from the stem of a ship to carry sail forward and to support the mast by stays. Blackbeard's head was hung from the bowsprit of the "Ranger." See page 59.

Brigantine — A two-masted, square-rigged piratical vessel originating and first used around the Mediterranean Sea; frequently called a "brig" by pirates. See page 35.

Fore-and‑aft — Lengthwise of a ship; a sail not supported by a yard but carried on a gaff or stay; used to refer to a ship not having square sails. See shallop and sloop below.

Galleon — A sailing vessel of the 15th and following centuries, often having three or four decks and used for both war and commerce, especially by the Spaniards in their American trade. See page 16.

Man-of‑war — A war vessel of a recognized navy, especially one armed for active fighting as referred to on page 54.

Merchantman — A trading vessel used to carry goods and passengers as distinguished from a war vessel, on page 9.º

Privateer — A war vessel owned privately by one or more persons licensed by a government (with Letters of Marque or Reprisal) to cruise against the enemy in war time. See pages 3 and 21.

Shallop — A small vessel usually with two masts carrying fore-and‑aft sails or lugsails. See page 33.

Sloop A fore-and‑aft rigged vessel with one mast and a siege headsail jib. In early days the mast of a sloop yacht was long with a short topmast, and stepped well forward. The bowsprit was built permanently into the hull. See page 29.

Warship — A government vessel employed for war purposes and armed for attack. The "Revenge," page 46 was a warship.º

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Page updated: 26 May 13