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What Did Pirates Do for Fun?

What Did Pirates Do for Fun?

Even though much of their time was spent raiding ships, searching for buried treasure chests, or exploring new treasure islands, pirate crews still made room for leisure activities and entertainment.

Pirates indulged in gambling, pranks, music, dancing, and various board games to pass the time between voyages.

Golden-age pirates experienced the thrills of seafaring life and enjoyed the camaraderie of their crews as they took part in all the risks and rewards that came with being at sea. Pirate captains and crews reveled in these fun and creative activities.

Let’s learn more about what they did for fun.

What did pirates do for fun? infographic.

What Made Their Voyage Fun?

Music and Dancing

The crew would sing sea shanties while performing lively jigs on deck or in the galley. Drums, tin whistles, and fiddles were popular among the men, who would often play in a group or take turns entertaining each other with solo performances.

Dances that were popular among the crew included the hornpipe and jig. These movements involved a lot of stomping, clapping, and hopping as they moved around in circles or formed lines to march in time. 

Shouts of encouragement came between each part of the dance, making it a truly wild and exhilarating experience. Women pirates drank and danced with their male counterparts and, in some cases, even taught them how to dance!

Entertaining in Wild Ways

Pirates were entertainers, often thinking up wild and daring stunts to show off their new skills. They knew how to entertain themselves on long voyages, from sword-fighting and knife-throwing competitions to mock battles on deck.

They loved to get physical and often engaged in wrestling or arm-wrestling matches to test their strength

Another popular activity was target practice with pistols and muskets, which they used to hone their aim when firing cannons at enemy ships.

Games and Gambling on Board

Pirates had plenty of time to play board games while at sea for long periods, and some of the most popular choices included cards, dice, and backgammon.

Gambling was a common pastime on pirate ships, with stakes ranging from small wagers to more significant sums of money or goods.

Playing board games with their complex rules was an excellent way for the crew to pass the time and relieve stress, while gambling offered an exciting element of risk and reward [1]

Partying with Fellow Pirates 

When some pirate crew was in port or celebrating a successful mission, there was often plenty of partying involved. This included singing, dancing, and drinking with fellow pirates.

Alcohol was a common form of fun and reward, with rum and beer being the drinks of choice. Pirates also exchanged tales of treasures found in foreign lands and stories about their adventures.

Pirate Pranks

Pirate reenactment scene.
Pirate reenactment scene
Image courtesy:

Pranks were a common way pirates passed their time, from painting fake cannons on the side of boats to sailing while dressed in ladies’ clothing.

The crew often pranked each other, telling tall tales and engaging in practical jokes to get a laugh. While most of these pranks were harmless fun, some could also lead to more severe consequences if the wrong person got involved.

Celebrating Victories and Rewarding

Gold coins, gems, or jewelry were often given out to those who had gone above and beyond in battle with other ships.

The time spent celebrating a successful mission was also a good opportunity for the pirates to bond and enjoy each other’s company. It was a way for them to come together, reflect on their achievements, and plan for future exploits.

Exercising To Stay Fit and Healthy 

Staying fit and healthy was crucial to pirates, who often had to endure long hours of manual labor under challenging conditions. 

Exercises such as stretching and weightlifting were used to keep their bodies strong, while running around the deck was an easy way to stay active. Pirates took advantage of any available physical activities, such as swimming, fishing, and climbing. 

This helped them stay agile and prepared for any challenge or surprise attack on their ship. [2]

Creative Hobbies and Projects 

On calmer days, many pirates took up creative hobbies and projects in their spare time.

These could include carving wood, making jewelry, painting pictures of exotic landscapes, or writing poetry. These activities helped them relieve boredom and express their creativity

They also provided a way for the crew to bond over shared interests and escape the harsh realities of their lives at sea.

Honoring Pirate Traditions and Rituals

Pirate traditions included respecting each other’s culture, celebrating victories by firing guns into the air and saying a toast before every meal.

These traditions were essential for keeping the crew united and created an atmosphere of camaraderie that made life at sea much more enjoyable.

Sharing Stories Around the Campfire

During their downtime, pirates would gather around campfires to tell stories about their adventures on the high seas. 

They would spin tales of faraway lands, mysterious creatures, and hidden treasures that made for a captivating experience.

These stories also served as a way to pass down essential lessons from one generation to the next, helping younger pirates learn valuable skills and lessons about life on the sea.

Plank Walking

Plank Walking.
Image courtesy:

Finally, no list of pirate activities would be complete without mentioning the infamous “walking the plank” and being thrown overboard.

Although this was never a confirmed practice among pirates, tales of victims walking off ships to their deaths have become part of popular maritime lore.

Whether real or imagined, walking the plank remains a symbol of fear and power that is still associated with modern pirates today. It was often done as a punishment for captured prisoners, but most pirates did it for fun. Sometimes they would even bet on who could stay on the plank the longest.

Exploring the Unknown Together

Exploring uncharted waters was a thrilling part of pirates’ lives, and they often ventured into unknown lands in search of treasure. 

These voyages could last for months or even years, so the crew found ways to entertain themselves while on board and keep their spirits up during challenging times by encouraging each other with positive words and sentiments.

They lived tough lives at sea but found moments of joy and happiness – thanks to the activities they shared with their crew. From exercising to creative projects and exploring the unknown, they found ways to make life on board a little less daunting.

These traditions were passed down from generation to generation, helping pirates stay connected and find purpose in their journeys on the high seas. [3]

Final Thoughts

Pirates have gone down in history as fierce raiders and terrorizers of the seas. But beneath this rough exterior was a group of people who found ways to enjoy life on long voyages on ships.

Their creative hobbies, rituals, and stories made life at sea more enjoyable.

Despite their raids and battles, it’s essential to recognize the shared activities that helped them stay connected during their voyages on the high seas.