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William Brand

How to Get Started

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Back in 2009, Haunting Lily and I began a thread to consolidate discussions from all parts of the Pub regarding 'How to Get Started at PIP' (Pirates in Paradise). Since so many people were asking us about basic clothing, tents, weapons, and every other kit you can imagine, it was beneficial to have it all in one place. Having a list at out fingertips saved us a lot of time. Fast forward to 2012 and we're still sending people to that thread, which remains buried in one of the crew sub-forums where most people never notice it.

I spoke with Lily today and asked her if I could move the materials in that thread to the Crow's Nest, but after looking it over, I've decided to only move the links and some of the suggestions, since so much of it was geared for a specific crew. I've changed a few posts to reflect a general Pub use accept where the original links names specifically mention a crew or festival which you'll see in brackets. This new thread contains some of the advice, links, opinions and suggestions to help someone 'get started'. This is not meant to endorse any one idea or expectation about the hobby, but only some helpful links for those who don't want to search through years of material. We hope everyone will find it useful and we encourage you to read the original thread as well for the comments and questions which came of it.

Welcome to the [Pub] and Welcome to the wonderful world of [Pyracy].

This is the place for you to ask questions regarding everything from garb to tents. While the [Pub] does not have garb standards, all attempts to have basic kit are encouraged. Your kit will grow with time and we will make every effort to help you on your way.

There are several links to threads below that deal with a good amount of information. This list is not all inclusive so check back often to see what we've added.

The Mercury Crew...

The Mercury, 1720 Clothing and Weapons...

How to Begin...

Getting Tentage ready...


Your humble servants,

William & Lily

The question of "How to get started?" has come up numerous times and will come up numerous times again, [and] for the interest of helping first time attendees to [of any festival], Lily and I thought that a thread was in order. Now we could approach the questions from various points of view, but I think a pragmatic start is best.

Now, what are the questions? Generally people ask about requirements first and the only true requirement is attendance. Everything else is secondary. I repeat...everything else is secondary. However, since it is assumed that anyone reading this is already planning on attending let's talk kit, because if you're going to attend a pirate event you'll probably want to look like one.

1 - Clothing: Why clothing first? Well, frankly, if I have to explain that then you might want to practice swaggering in jeans versus slops. If you want to be a pirate, you really have to look the part. Clothing makes the pirate.

Now with clothing, the question of Casual Interpretation versus Historic Interpretation will come up, and while it is a valid question, it isn't the significant dividing question that it is sometimes made out to be. People who interpret Pyracy casually (and draw from many inspirations) and those who interpret Pyracy historically (from many specific sources) are not factions on either side of a wall. Our hobby is not a gulf. It's best to think of pirates (hobbyists or re-enactors) as pirate enthusiasts at the same pirate table. While the various interpreters of pyracy might sit at different places of that table, they are in fact enthusiasts no matter how you define them. And, if you've ever been to PIP, you know that PIP above all other festivals is about as laid back as you might ever find. We work hard and then we play hard.

Remember, we share a table, not a border.

With that in mind it is always best to buy pirate, and when I say 'buy pirate', I mean purchase kit from within the pirate community at large whenever you can. This is recommended to help the hobby thrive and it can be achieved by buying and trading materials and kit from fellow pirates. Think of it as buying local. It also doesn't hurt to buy from skilled tradesmen who sell to other hobbyists, thereby bringing them into the fold (i.e., French and Indian War craftsmen, Revolutionary sutlers, etc.). In these two ways we maintain a good barter and trade with one another and we welcome sutler's anxious to broaden their sales market. This also helps to create more choices of good pirate products over the coming years.

Example: The better part of my kit comes from fellow pirates, such as a hanger from Dorian Lasseter, shoes and buttons from Mary Diamond, buckles and a Monmouth cap from Gentlemen of Fortune, a ditty bag from Haunting Lily, period lace from Captain Sterling, an upcoming sea chest from Edward O'Keefe, a pipe box from Jim Warren, stockings from the Weeping Heart Trading Company, and a sailor's knife from Big Mike. I have also expanded that circle to include Red Hawk Trading company, which dealt primarily with Mountain Men re-enacting, but now sells tents to many pirates here on the Pub.

The great thing about trading with fellow pirates is the story behind each and every item. Kit becomes its own history.

Now when buying clothing it is strongly recommended that you buy quality whenever possible. You get better wear out of quality. Also, you should consider the climate in which you will be re-enacting. Light, breathable clothing for Southern climbs and heavy for warmer. You really can't beat a good linen shirt, skirt or stays. Linen wears well and breathes better in the climate. Cotton will work, but linen comes most recommended, no matter what the pattern you use to cut it out.

2 - Shelter

: After clothing, one must consider shelter. A tent, lean-to or some other shelter is recommended to keep one out of the rain when and if we have rain. Plain canvas awnings, wedge tents, wall tents, lean-tos and more elaborate sail shelters are all fine, so please see the various tent threads for recommendations. If you are staying at a hotel, you may still wish to have a tent presence on the beach, but that choice is yours alone.

3 - Personal history: You don't have to have a particular history for the type of pirate that you are portraying, but it does help. It can also make the experience just that much more interesting. Just ask Mission or Patrick. I personally recommend portraying someone based loosely on yourself. That way you don't have to try too hard. 

4 - Weapons: Weapons are arguably essential and not essential, but if you can afford them after travel and clothing, get some. Weapons certainly enhance the look and feel of portraying a pirate and the general public and it makes the battles more entertaining for you and the public.

5 - Learning: Come expecting to learn. If you think that you already have all the answers, you'll miss out. There are a great many people with a great many talents ready to teach, so come and learn.

6 - Fun: PIP is one of the most enjoyable events that you will ever attend in terms of volume and volume (People and things that go BOOM!), so expect to have a very good time. Everyone at PIP helps everyone else. As with any growing festival it has a few growing pains, but PIP is like nothing you've been to before. Good People, good location, good food, good rum and you if you're lucky, you just might get to see a good hangin' or die gloriously in the fray. Either way, you'll be hooked.

7 - Eating and Drinking: While many folks who attend often have extras to loan, you may want to consider some eating and drinking utensils. Plate and/or bowl, knife, fork, spoon and something to drink out of.

To expand on clothing a little. There is a lot of information that can be found in the Thieves Market and Captain Twill. From items for sale & trade to how to's. Please keep in mind before you start making purchases, trades or decide to make your kit from scratch, think about what type of impression you wish to portray. Authentic, hollywood, lower class, upper class, merchant, able body seaman, captain, to name a few. We will be more than happy to help you sort out what's what and who's who. Here are a few links to help you on your way.

This site has a lot of great information for all things pirate. -

Admiralty Slops Contract -

Minimum Garb Standards -

Top ten items for your pirate kit -

Chemises and shifts -

Stays and other female costume questions -

Stays......the right foundation -

Now for the Mantua -

A Lady's Things -

How to cock a hat -

Slops -

Linen Shirts -

This thread would be incomplete without touching on a number of camping threads and the more specific subjects of re-enacting on site.

Getting tentage ready for PIP -

The Buccaneer Project -

Campaign Furniture -

wooden firebox -

Period correct tools -

GAOP Encampment -

Now to touch upon some of the finer details.

Cartouche Boxes, old subject -

Whydah Cartridge Box Replica -

Leather Costrels -

Buttons reasonably priced -

Shoes & Boots -

Fugawee Shoes -

Period Shoes -

Sea Chests -

Haversacks, Ditty Bags, Snpsacks, Wallets -

Sailors Past Times, Knotting -

During a discussion with a fellow crew member last night I realized that we need to cover a few comfort subjects that might not be emphasized elsewhere. Here are a few extra bits of information that are offered as suggestions to make your stay more pleasant.

1 - Contact and Information: There is a lot to know and understand about [festivals at large]. There is almost too much going on, which makes it so much fun. Do yourself a favor early on and gather as much information about [your] festival and those people that you plan to meet prior to the event. It's always a good idea to get phone numbers and plan assistance to and from the bus station or airport. Try to create a schedule for yourself, so that you aren't kicking yourself later for spending too much time not knowing what was going on. Make contacts and plans early.

2 - Foot Care: Baby your feet. You'll be on them all of the time. You can prepare yourself first and foremost by walking a great deal more prior to the event. Start a few months out and walk as often as you can. It's good for you and it will help you at [festivals]. Also, if you have new shoes, or need new shoes, get them broken in early. I learned an old mountain climbing trick years ago for long term wear or for breaking in shoes and boots. You buy some simply nylon booties and wear them inside your socks. This allows a little more give between your feet and the shoes as they break in and causes little or no blisters in the process. Also, do yourself a favor and get some gel inserts. You'll thank yourself later.

3 - Lighting: It isn't necessary to have a lantern at [most festivals], especially outside [them] for other activities, but if you are staying late at events, it helps to have one. Plus, it just feels right to bear a lantern in hand when marching through camps at night. It adds a certain something that is altogether lost with flashlights. There are numerous pierced lanterns and pane lanterns that will do the trick.

4 - Bed Rolls and Blankets: Nights can get cold. It never hurts to have two good woolen blankets for warmth. Many of the pirates will be in hammocks and will use their coats as an added blanket, so ground bedding becomes less of an issues. Just know your needs before you go and plan accordingly.

5 - Water: Because the festivals take place all over, and because it [can get hot], and because you will likely walk a great deal, you must drink water. Trust me when I say that you don't want heatstroke. It can ruin your visit. Please take the steps necessary to carry water wherever you go. Onion bottles, leatherjacks and the like are all well suited for carrying water. You must stay hydrated. Heavy quantities of rum will not help you, so drink water. It helps stave off the hangovers as well.

6 - Needs: Voice your needs (and I do mean needs, not the animal attractions you might openly talk about when drunk). These needs can and should include medical requirements. I had a roommate years ago with diabetes who didn't voice his medical needs when we first met. As a consequence, he almost slipped into a diabetic coma because he had failed to prepare me for what to look for and how to recognize his symptoms. If you attend a festival with a condition or requirement that others are unaware of, you could be setting yourself up for a disaster. There are many pirates with medical experience at these festivals, so do yourself a favor and let people know your requirements.

Needs can also extend into the realm of mental health, religious requirements or just plain social preferences. Some people do well with crowds and some people don't. Some people are afraid of water. Some people can't swim. Whenever you begin a new activity where you may be at risk physically or emotionally or may find yourself awkwardly out of place, please say so. Don't be embarrassed to admit a need, preference, or desire on points of food choices, phobias, social limitations, or any other need. We all come from different walks of life. The better part of us are square pegs in a round hole.

For example, as touching food in my circle of friends there are some very specific requirements. I have several friends who can't eat dairy. Some of them are vegetarians. One friend can't eat bell peppers, while another is deathly allergic to gluten.

We want everyone to feel welcome and to enjoy the comforts of the festival. Share your needs and wishes.

Patrick Hand's 'Pirate Garb/Clothing Index

EDIT: No list would be complete without these photos from jollyjacktar's kit...

Merchant Seaman's Effects Part 1

Merchant Seaman's Effects Part 2

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We need to update the PiP index thread.

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We need to update the PiP index thread.

Yes we do. Are you volunteering? I should scour that thread for some addition here.

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Okay, fine. (This is a great idea for a thread. It should definitely be stickied IMO.)

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I can't believe that I didn't add these before from jollyjacktar...

Merchant Seaman's Effects Part 1

Merchant Seaman's Effects Part 2

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