Golden Age of Piracy > Pirate Ships

Pirate Ships

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


A pirate ship was one of the most important tools a pirate captain had at his disposal. During the Golden Age of Piracy, each specific type of ship had different attributes and characteristics. While any ship could be a pirate ship, some were better than others. The largest pirate ship, with a few exceptions was comparable to a frigate or a brig, while the smallest pirate ship might only have 4 cannons and have been a sloop, schooner or brigantine.

Pirate ships were more than just sails and cannons. They were the homes and work places of men who required food, water, supplies and equipment. There was a limited space aboard a pirate ship and the more men and supplies were on a ship the slower it went. Often pirates moved in fleets which allowed a faster ship to engage a ship while a more well armed ship could approach. This tactic often lead most merchant crews to surrender and give up their cargo and often leave with their lives.

Types of Pirate Ships

See Types of Pirate Ships

There are many different types of pirate ships and each of them served a different purpose in piracy. For example, smaller ships could be used to scout and approach a targeted prize ship while larger vessels could bring in reinforcements and carry extra treasure and loot.


Famous Pirate Ships



Naval Battles

Pirate Ships

Types of Ships

Famous Pirate Ships

Building a Ship

Sailing a Ship

Naval Combat


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Masefield, J. (1906). On the Spanish Main: Or, Some English forays on the Isthmus of Darien. London: Methuen & Co.