Elizabethan Era 1558 - 1603

Tudors Times 1485 - 1603

Jacobean Era 1603 - 1625

Pirate Ships

Information on: The Sloop style of Pirate Ships, The Brigantine style of Pirate Ships, The Schooner style of Pirate Ships, The Frigate or the "Man-O-War" ships


The brigantine was originally a small ship carrying both sails and oars. It was a favorite of Mediterranean pirates from whence it got its name. Italian word brigantino meant brigand's ship. Later the ship referred to a two-masted sailing ship much greater sailing power. It weighed 150 tons and was 80-feet long. It carried twelve guns and over 100 men.

Quick and agile in the water, the brigantine could also be equipped with oars, an added advantage when there were no winds to fill its sails. Unlike the smaller ships, the brigantine was suitable for extended battles.

Pirate Ships

This was a two mast and shallow draft brigand ship and has good maneuverability and velocity. This was long, roomy, heavy and better manned than the smaller sloops and schooners. These were 80 to 100 feet long, 20 to 25 feet broad, 10 to 15 feet deep and the tonnage was 130 to 200 tons.


The name frigate came from the Italian word fregata which may have come from the latin word fabricata, meaning something built. The Venetians called a frigate a small oared boat around 35 feet in length and around 7 feet wide. The English adopted the word for a larger ship which may have carried oars.

Frigate means a type of warship which was only second in size to the Ship-of-the-Line. Frigates were three-masted with a raised forecastle and quarterdeck. They had anywhere from 24 to 38 guns on her deck. They were faster than the ship-of-the-lines and were used for escort purposes. They were sometimes used to hunt pirates. Only a few pirates were ever in command of a frigate as most pirates would flee from a frigate.


The Schooner has a narrow hull, two masts and is less than 100 tons. She is generally rigged with two large sails suspended from spars reaching from the top of the mast toward the stern. Other sails sometimes were added, including a large headsail attached to the bowsprit.

She had a shallow draft which allowed her to remain in shallow coves waiting for her prey. The Schooner is very fast and large enough to carry a plentiful crew. It was a favorite among both pirates and smugglers.

Pirate Ships

This sleek American ship was created in the 1700s and had a narrow hull and a shallow draft of just 5 feet. A 75 man crew could be taken inland to hide or divide the spoils. Pirates, particularly in the Caribbean, valued the schooner for its speed. Weighing 100 tons with two masts rigged fore and aft, its narrow hull moved quickly through the water at 11 knots. A schooner typically carried up to 75 men and had about ten guns on board.

It's maneuverability made negotiating shoals and shallow water easy. Though some schooners might have more than two masts for added speed, they were not ideally suited to traveling long distances.

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