Pirates …. Ahoy

Travelling from place to place a lot and always on the lookout for something to read on a flight or in a hotel room, I came across a general work on Pirates. This was a well written piece and inspired me to consider a pirates army for Hordes of the Things. A quick consultation with The Stronghold and a list was made for pirates. A variation or two was added, some figures purchased and we had a pirate army. Mind you, some of the figures came from Berkeley 2001 where I won a couple of packets of Foundry Pirates as part of the raffle.

So, you thought Pirates were a thing of the past. The following is from the Australian Governments Travel Advisory webpage and was extracted from that page on 8 October 2001:

Piracy At Sea

This advice is current for Monday 08 October 2001 EST The advice was issued on Friday 06 July 2001 EST

This advice has been reviewed. It contains new information or advice.

Australian seafarers are advised to avoid regions of civil unrest including the coastal waters of Somalia and the north and east coasts of Sri Lanka. They should take extra precautions and maintain anti-piracy watches when transiting channels or anchoring in areas frequented by pirates.

Safety and Security

According to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Maritime Bureau, the majority of piracy attacks and armed robbery in 2000 took place in Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malacca Straits and the southern end of the Red Sea. The ICC also reported incidents of piracy in the Straits of Malacca, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Somalia. Yachtsmen should also be aware of the high incidence of piracy in the coastal waters off Nigeria, and along the west coast of Africa in general.

Sailors are strongly advised to avoid regions of civil unrest such as the coastal waters of Somalia, and the north and east coasts of Sri Lanka. Seafarers should also be vigilant when anchoring off remote or isolated areas where they may become targets of opportunity (eg. unwittingly being caught up in requests for payment for anchorage or petty crime).

Further Information

The 2000 annual report Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships prepared by the International Maritime Bureau has noted an increase of 56 percent in piracy attacks worldwide compared to 1999. The Bureau runs a 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which issues daily reports broadcast to all shipping on the safetyNET service of Inmarsat-C, and weekly reports on its internet site at address http://www.icc-ccs.org/

The services of the Centre are free, and are available to all ships, irrespective of their flag. The 24-hour Anti-Piracy HELPLINE numbers are (tel) 603 201 0014; and (fax) 603 238 5769. Other contact details are: (telex) MA31880 IMBPCI; and (e-mail) ccskl@imbkl.po.my

Pirates! A call to send a chill down the spine of mariners across the Seven Seas. The Carribean, the Barbary Coast, the Indian Ocean and the coasts of China and Sumatra. All have a tradition of Piracy although the high period of piracy only lasted for around 100 years or so. There were distinctions betweens pirates, privateers and buccaneers but essentially they all made their living the same way … preying off merchant vessels and raiding towns.

At the same time, there is a certain romance associated with Pirates. Many classical stories have Pirates as a central theme (with perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island the most famous). Hollywood took to Pirates with a passion in the 1930’s, 40’s and into the 50’s with many films starring famous Hollywood leading men such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Errol Flynn (who can forget Flynn in the company of Alan Hale swashing his buckle across the poop-deck in Captain Blood).

Life Among the Pirates – the Romance and the Reality written by David Cordingly (ISBN 0 349 11314 9)
published in 1995 where Cordingly looked at Piracy from the perspective of history, literature and film. Even today, real pirates such as Blackbeard (Edward Teach), Captain Kydd and Henry Morgan are known, along with the fictitious Long John Silver and Ben Gunn.

I decided to model the Pirates as a Hordes of the Things army rather than say a De Bellis Renationis army to allow for the fiction and to have a little fun. At the same time, I decided to build the army in 25-28mm figures for two reasons. One was that this would be the first time I had painted figures in this scale in over 20 years and I wanted to see if I could do this. The second was that at the Berkeley Hordes of the Things competition in September 2001 I won a raffle prize which was two packets of 28mm Pirates from Foundry. I also wanted this army to be available for me to take to the Berkeley Hordes of the Things competition in September 2002 and I figured that one year was a reasonable time from for me to get them together.

The figure packets I won in the raffle were one of cut-throats carrying bizarre weapons and a second with some character
figures (namely Edward Teach, ‘Calico Jack’ Jack Rackam, Anne Bonny and Mary Reade). I then picked up a copy of the Osprey Publications, Pirates 1660-1730 by Angus Konstam, published 1998 (ISBN 1 85532 706 6) along with his publication on Privateers as well as visiting the Foundry website to check the catalogue. A list of figures required was prepared and these were then purchased at Colours in Reading in September 2001.

This added some more general pirate types (although not as many with cutlasses as I would have preferred) along with some more characters (principally the Treasure Island crew although some more well known pirate types were also selected to add some spice to the general elements of the force). Some scenic items were also purchased for the construction of a stronghold.

I then only had to decide of the structure of the force. The following was decided:

No Description Points Comments
1 Hero General @ 4AP 4 Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard)
1 Hero @ 4AP 4 Calico Jack in the company of Anne Bonny and Mary Reade. OK, so Calico Jack was not that heroic nor successful. He was, however, part of an interesting tale and the ladies were probably more heroic than Jack, even to the point of avoiding the rope at the end of their days of pirating.
1 Artillery @ 3AP 3 A ship’s gun pulled up on the beach
2 Shooters @ 2AP 4 Pirates keeping up a brisk fire
4 Warband @ 2AP 8 Pirates charging in behind their leaders
1 Lurker @ 1AP 1 The cast from Treasure Island as there is always a Pirate tale lurking around somewhere
Total 24

Stronghold: This would be a wooden stockade, a careened vessel (pirates were always getting caught when naval vessels sailed past their pirate ships being careened on a beach in the West Indies) or the poop-deck. Alternatively, use “‘X’ marks the spot”.The Pirate crew getting ready for a pillage

I will admit that my stronghold is a scene from the beach – namely, a dinghy pulled up with some provisions around it and Captain Kydd supervising the burying (or is it the retrieval) of some treasure. These figures, along with the actual artillery piece, are not Foundry but are Dixon Miniatures.

So here it is, 24 July 2002 and I have been doing some work to the pirates. The image is the army as it stands at the moment with roughly 67% of it painted. The $40.00 showing in the picture as well is the stake between myself and a Kiwi flatmate for this year’s Bledisloe Cup (the prize for one of the two best Rugby teams in the world).

Following then is a close up of the more character elements. In the image can be seen Calico Jack hiding behind Mary Reade and wossername, Anne Bonney. Calicao Jack Rackem and the LadiesTo the side, some general Pirates as well as the artillery piece. If you look closely at the artillery crew, you can see one of the polystyrene balls that was used as packing material as I moved these. I didn’t realise it was there until I was playing with the new digital camera (where these images came from). It showed on the image. What also showed is the awful paint job I have been doing. The figures actually look better in real life then they do in the image. Damn technology is getting too good!

Hmmm, I might paint that polystyrene ball a gunmetal colour yet.

One thought on “Pirates …. Ahoy

  1. thomo the lost 24 July 2004 / 8:00 am

    It should be noted that the most successful Pirate ever was a female. The Chinese Pirate Cheng I Sao (Ching Yih Saou on the other method of transliteration of Chinese characters) was a former prostitute who had married a pirate. He died and she inherited the family business, increasing the size of the pirate fleet to around 1,000 boats and 70-80,000 pirates. Eventually the government came to terms with her and pardoned her if she stopped pirating (they had already lost 63 vessels trying to put her out of business by force). Well worth further investigation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.