Jake the SeaSnake

I Need help with me pirate facts

22 posts in this topic

okay I don't know how much this will change me story but generally how long would it take to sail from south carolina to madagascar?

after I figure out that I can start finishing my story. it is a story about Anne Bonney wanting to get back to her old ways but is forced to after all and gets WAY more than she bargained for. no it's not as cheesy as it sounds.

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it all depends on the winds, route and ship and time of year. so look at your course compute that on the average you will make 6 to 9 knots per hour. you should not chance a sail through the horse latitudes.

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if you want me to plot you a course let me know. p.s. keep the navigator away from the rum!

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that would be very nice thank you! it would be right about late spring and early summer. it seems that you have to cross horse latitudes going that far south from the northern hemisphere, and if you did you might try to cross directly as fast as you could right? and I would like a stop in cape town to stock up in supplies. the ship would be a heavier type of sloop or a light galleon of some type. The story originally had the latter.

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bye the way is there a sight where you could lay in a coarse and see the amount of nautical miles long and all that?

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i don't know about a sight like that, give me a few days and i'll come up with it. charles towne rigth, i would start tomorrow but going to help dutchman work on the sloop luna tomorrow. i'll keep you updated.

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i don't know about a sight like that, give me a few days and i'll come up with it. charles towne rigth, i would start tomorrow but going to help dutchman work on the sloop luna tomorrow colonial seaport fondation. i'll keep you updated.

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Slavevoyages.org is a treasure trove of data on sailing in the era of the abominable slave trade. I find no record of any slave voyage from South Carolina to Madagascar, but there are several from South Carolina to Mozambique or Zanzibar, which would be a very similar voyage.

The best documented voyage I see is Nuestra Senora del Juncal a Harmony's trip. She was a "bergantim," which I believe is a brigantine. She left Charleston Dec. 5, 1801, and began trade in Mozambique April 22, 1802, a passage of 138 days, or about three and a half months. Going to Ranter Bay or St. Mary's in Madagascar would have taken maybe a week longer than that.

As for a site to lay in a course and see the number of nautical miles, the line and path functions on Google Earth are great for that. You can download it for free.

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thanks daniel! Now, from what you said about the neuestra Senora del Juncal a Harmony's trip, this wouldn't happen to include a few stops because from the course I plotted on google earth (which took the ship close to the south american coast that because of the winds blowing in that direction, westerly's and all that,) and the equator doldrums, the worst I came up with is about 8900 nautical miles, at an average of 5 knots, it would have took 2 and 1/2 months(75 days) but then I just watched a special about the mayflower taking about 100 days (!?!) going leeward just about the whole way just crossing the Atlantic! (albeit with a much more primitive, slower ship than I had in mind) Or am I missing something Because I'm sure you can't take the straightest rout there or you'll be fighting the wind the whole way and even black bart had trouble with that

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With regard to the Mayflower, they had bad weather and storms (large waves make it impossible to reach high speeds for a boat like her) and even had some damage to repair with a deck beam. Additionally, 5 kts for an extended voyage like that might be asking a lot out of a sailing vessel. Weed growth will hinder speed, as well as helmsman not always being able to steer a strait course. Most importantly, many vessels of that era were just not sailed fast when there was no need because of the wear and tear on the equipment and added risk to the ship. I was occasionally following the replica HMB Endeavour on her circumnavigation of Australia. They had a live feed of her whenever she was sailing, and often it was in the 3 kt range, and she's likely bigger (and theoretically faster) than most of the pirate ships would be. Many times I saw her going 1-2 kts. Her top sailing speed is obviously much faster, but there are many other considerations to take, like the amount of water a wooden hull will make when traveling faster or the health and experience of the crew if they're needed to furl a sail quickly during a squall. Then there are also just days with little wind. I seem to remember in a sail cruising forum a discussion about voyage planning speed that stated something like 50-65% of your maximum hull speed should be your planned speed. This is with the convenience of having an engine when the wind is light (and also the option of motor sailing), GPS giving you more accurate fix data and thus sailing a shorter course, and up to date weather information so you can leave port at the right time to hit favorable winds.

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okay, then the average of 5 knots was a little fast as I thought, but then again this is fiction, still I'm going to assume 4 knots at 8900 nautical miles, the actual trip will end up being about three months without "help" (hehehe, part of the story you might not understand until you read it) with an experienced crew that has been to africa on more than one occasion.

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Sorry, I missed this before.

I don't know if the Juncal's time included any stops, but certainly a lot of ships en route to Africa stopped at Cape Verde, and ships on a very long voyage like this might conceivably stop more than once. Captains believed that letting the men ashore helped prevent scurvy (not realizing that it was the availability of fresh vegetables ashore that was doing it). And any time you cross the equatorial doldrums between 10 degrees North and 10 degrees South, there's a good chance you'll spend many days becalmed.

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that brings up another question, how did they get through duldroms? I have heard of using the long boats to row the ship through them, but that might be a little far retched. of course the solution our hero's find is a little more...

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Take what I say about this with a grain of salt; I've never found really strong evidence about how calms were dealt with, in the doldrums or elsewhere.

1. The doldrums are mostly calm, but not all the time; fitful and unpredictable winds would sometimes come along. The doldrums are narrower near South America, which is the best place to cross them. Lookouts could try to spot the "catspaw" pattern of wind on the water, and call to the helmsman to steer in that direction. I think that distant clouds were thought to be signs of wind too, but I'm not sure they were, nor am I sure whether clouds actually herald wind or not. And, of course, if you spied another ship a few miles away with her sails full and drawing, you knew that there was wind that way.

2. Yes, ships might be rowed with longboats, or the ship itself might have oars; Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley and Captain England's Fancy both had sweeps and oarports. Since rowing would wear the crew out in a hurry, I think it was done only for short distances to try to get the ship into a wind. I've never heard of anyone trying to row all the way across of the doldrums; the crew probably couldn't endure that.

3. And, sometimes, you just waited for the wind to come to you instead of trying to go to the wind, sitting "idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean" until the wind picked up. A sailor's superstition was that whistling could bring a wind, and some captains tried to "whistle up a wind." I read long ago about a rather ghastly superstition that strangling the ship's cat would bring on a wind, but I've never seen the story repeated, and it may (we may hope) be untrue.

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Sounds interesting, Jake! When you're ready for an editor let me know...

Lucia de la Mar

Pillage first, then Plunder... or was that the other way around??

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Take what I say about this with a grain of salt; I've never found really strong evidence about how calms were dealt with, in the doldrums or elsewhere.

1. The doldrums are mostly calm, but not all the time; fitful and unpredictable winds would sometimes come along. The doldrums are narrower near South America, which is the best place to cross them. Lookouts could try to spot the "catspaw" pattern of wind on the water, and call to the helmsman to steer in that direction. I think that distant clouds were thought to be signs of wind too, but I'm not sure they were, nor am I sure whether clouds actually herald wind or not. And, of course, if you spied another ship a few miles away with her sails full and drawing, you knew that there was wind that way.

2. Yes, ships might be rowed with longboats, or the ship itself might have oars; Captain Kidd's Adventure Galley and Captain England's Fancy both had sweeps and oarports. Since rowing would wear the crew out in a hurry, I think it was done only for short distances to try to get the ship into a wind. I've never heard of anyone trying to row all the way across of the doldrums; the crew probably couldn't endure that.

3. And, sometimes, you just waited for the wind to come to you instead of trying to go to the wind, sitting "idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean" until the wind picked up. A sailor's superstition was that whistling could bring a wind, and some captains tried to "whistle up a wind." I read long ago about a rather ghastly superstition that strangling the ship's cat would bring on a wind, but I've never seen the story repeated, and it may (we may hope) be untrue.

no I dare not use the strangling cat thing either, somethings gotta eat the rats!

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Och Aye, only one at a time Mate . . . cats, that is . . . jees keeps one in reserves for the rats, a fews extras for whateveres winds and such! . . . now no'se ones be touching me dog, savvy!

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Just a stupid question... but most ships are told they made around 10 knots in good wind, some lighter ones up to 12... When you were talking here about 4 knots or less... I am a little shocked. It is too much of a difference between the two figures not to be shocked. Any idea why?

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Those speeds are often the maximum speeds in good, fair wind with following seas. These are ideal circumstances, which come about rarely in long distance voyaging. While some boats truly can achieve impressive speeds under sail (I believe Sovereign of the Seas had a maximum recorded speed of 22 kts!), the vast majority could not, or did not for one reason or another. Additionally, many of those boats that today can get 10-12 kts are of a more modern design than those in the GAoP. One other general rule is that the longer a boat's waterline length is, the higher speeds she can reach. Often the boats that pirates were using were smaller vessels. Below, I've included a few links of interest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_large_sailing_vessels

The paragraph about these speeds should be well noted:

"The speeds of big sailing ships vary greatly depending on circumstances. The speeds mentioned here are often the fastest recorded speeds and not representative of the general speed of the vessel. As ideal circumstances may not arise during the lifetime of a vessel, they are not comparable either. The cargo ships in the list usually sailed undermanned, with cargo, the training ships sail with apprentices and cruising ships with customers; economy, safety and comfort may be more important than aiming for maximum speed."

Additionally, look at the dates of these vessels and note that the vast majority are from the height of sail technology and many are steel/iron hulls. Older hull forms would be generally slower, regardless of the length. These are also primarily boats longer than 200 feet, so quite a bit of difference here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Constitution#cite_ref-101

USS Constitution reports a top speed of 13 kts. This is a well manned, known to be fast sailing frigate from a much later period than GAoP. Her average speeds were nowhere near 13 kts, but we're at least getting closer to the period that we're interested in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duyfken

A bit more representative of the era that we're looking at. They list her top speed as 7 kts. Of course, this would be with a nice, clean bottom. We've discussed weed buildup earlier, I believe. I'm also not sure whether that top speed is under sail or motor, as this is a reproduction vessel.

Lastly, a gem:

http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2012/09/are-modern-ships-slower-than-sailing-ships-probably-not/

Remember that this is talking about the pinnacle of speed under sail for commercial vessels. Clippers were built for speed and small cargoes. Later sailing vessels became larger and built more for larger bulk cargoes than speed.

"What is true is that the clipper ships, and even the more full-bodied windjammers that came after them, could make some very impressive passages in fair winds. The extreme clipper Sovereign of the Seas designed and built by Donald McKay was indeed recorded sailing at 22 knots, which given the length of the ship translates into a Speed/Length ratio (knots divided by the square root of the waterline length in feet) of around 1.5, which is very fast indeed. The Cutty Sark was also a very fast ship. She once sailed 2,163 nautical miles in six days, for an average speed of just over 15 knots.

Nevertheless, the Sovereign of the Seas, the Cutty Sark and other fast sailing ships did not average such speeds. The Cutty Sark set a record for a passage from Plymouth to Sydney of 72 days, when a fast passage was considered to be anything around 100 days. Even on the record setting voyage, however, the Cutty Sark actually only averaged around 8 knots. The ships which made “fast passages” of 100 days averaged around 5 knots. The Flying Cloud on her record setting voyage between New York and San Francisco ol 89 days, likewise averaged around 7.5 knots.

The reason that average speeds of so many clipper ships were often low had to do with the doldrums, the regions of light air just South of the Equator. Even the fastest sailing ships are slow when the wind is light or non-existent. But what of ships that did not have to traverse the light air of the doldrums? The fastest passage ever recorded by a sailing ship between New York and Liverpool was made by the clipper Red Jacket in 13 days, 1 hour and 25 minutes. During the voyage she reached speeds of over 17 knots. Nevertheless her average speed was around 10.5 knots."

I hope this helps clear up the discussion about passage speeds. Sure, a boat in good repair with a good, healthy crew, all sails set, and in ideal conditions could reach her maximum hull speed, but this didn't always happen. Additionally, unless you're in a chase (either away from a larger enemy or toward prey), there's no real reason to sail fast. Sailing fast just risks damaging the ship and might reduce your speed when you need it most. As long as you had enough provisions, sailing slower was often good seamanship. There were no modern schedules to keep, and repairing/replacing sails and spars cut in to your profits.

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some very helpful info indeed!!

Edited by Jake the SeaSnake

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Ok so I am also a writer and was wondering what were some common games played when gambling amongst pirates

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yeh me too!

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