Pirates & Rum

Alcohol was both a God Send and Devil's Torment on board naval and pirate vessels. Thanks to Captain Billy Bones in the book, Treasure sland, the alcoholic bevera!e most associated with pirates is rum. "# course, rum has a lon! association with the British and American navies because both navies had li$uor rations and that li$uor was usually rum. %um is a distilled alcoholic bevera!e made #rom #ermented molasses. At one time it was all the ra!e in the American colonies as well as Caribbean because o# its ine&pensive means o# production. %um was no the only alcohol on board a ship' beer and wine were also very common. Why was alcohol on board ships? Sailors needed to drink and water was di##icult to keep #resh. Alcohol was used to e&tend the li#e o# the water. "#ten, the #irst li$uids to be consumed on the ship were beer. Beer would !o bad (ust about as #ast as water but it had some #lavor to it and the alcohol helped the crews morale. "nce the beer was #inished or had !one #oul, then the crew would turn to water. )ater was stored in wood barrels and tended to !o bad, especially on lon! voya!es. *owever, the water could be made drinkable +bad beer was (ust bad beer, A dram +a small amount, o# alcohol, normally rum, was o#ten added to the water to kill the al!ae and make it taste better. -any navies also had an alcohol ration which was strictly controlled by the $uartermaster. This ration was usually about . ounces o# rum a day. The purpose o# the rum was to improve morale. n an e##ort to prevent hoardin! o# the sailor's ration, the rum was o#ten added to water makin! it more di##icult to store lar!e $uantities. This mi& o# rum and water called !ro!. There are many stories o# why !ro! is called !ro!. The two most common involve Admiral /ord 0dward 1ernon +234.52676, o# the British 8avy. "ne story claims the drink re#ers to his 9Gro!ham9 coat and that he came up with the idea o# mi&in! the rum and water. Another story claims he was the old !ro! :: an alcoholic. 1ernon probably did create the policy o# mi&in! water with the sailor;s rum ration but the word !ro! dates #rom an earlier time. )hereas the common sailors drank rum and ale, the o##icers tended to drink wine. The most common wine in the British 8avy, bein! port. <ort wine which was #irst produced in 26th century in the Duoro 1alley in <ortu!al. <ort wine is a red wine that has been #orti#ied with addition o# !rape brandy durin! the #ermentation process, makin! it very stable and capable o# endurin! lon! sea voya!es. Co##ee and tea were also added to the ship's water in order to make the water drinkable. Today we know that boilin! the water killed the !erms but this was not always possible or practical aboard a ship. Rum and Pirates %um would o#ten be the down#all o# many pirate crews. =nlike military and merchant ships where some kind o# authority measured out the rum bein! consumed, a democratically run pirate ship, with its weakened code o# discipline, sometimes led to a

There are several accounts o# pirate ships easily bein! boarded because the ship was too drunk to #i!ht.complete disre!ard #or sobriety. and Calico >ack %ackham. "ne o# the best known e&amples was the capture o# Anne Bonney. . 0ven Bartholomew %oberts. -ary %eed. the tea totalin! pirate was unable to stop his crew #rom drinkin!.