Dream Chaser

The year is 1723 and the condemned pirate, William Benton, awaits his appointment with death at Execution dock. To pass the time he recounts tales of his adventures to the naïve young journalist, Nathaniel Bagshaw, who hopes to publish a popular book on pirate histories.

Benton’s story begins in 1718, when the pirate stronghold of Nassau is under threat and its inhabitants are torn between accepting the King’s pardon or continuing their precarious life as sea rovers. Captain Gunnarsson and his crew choose the latter and are forced to flee a place they once called home. Their luck seems to change when they sight a Spanish galleon separated from the treasure fleet by a storm, but during the pursuit their ship, Dream Chaser, is engulfed by a sudden, eerie mist. When they emerge they find themselves no longer in known territories, but in unknown and mysterious lands. Now they are struggling for their lives as they attempt to return to familiar waters with or without the Spanish treasure.…

Pirate ships

Pirates made use of many types of ships, in particular smaller versatile vessels which could navigate the shallow waters and shoals characteristic of the Caribbean. Bigger was not necessarily better as larger ships with their complex rigging and large area of canvas were more difficult to sail. Although the term ‘ship’ strictly applied to three-masted, fully rigged vessels, the word was often applied to sloops and brigantines at the time. The names applied to seafaring vessels have changed over time, but here the terms here are those used during the Golden Age of Piracy. During this period, ships were often defined by their type of rigging rather than the shape of their hull or number of masts. A lot of ships possessed at least some oars in the early 18th century, whether brigantines, sloops, or frigate-built ships, allowing for more versatility, especially when there was no wind. At the time, the term man-o’-war could be applied to any vessel of any size fitted for war.

The War of Spanish Succession

“In 1706, my older brother, Rupert, fought at the Battle of Ramillies in the Spanish War, and he’s never been the same since. He saw more bloodshed there than any man should witness in his lifetime.”

— Nathaniel Bagshaw

Sea Battle of Vigo Bay by anonymous (1702)The War of Spanish Succession was fought in Europe and the colonies between 1701 and 1714. The theatre of war in the Americas was known as Queen Anne’s War and involved a series of smaller wars fought by British colonists against the French and their native American allies.

In 1700 King Charles II, the last Spanish King of the House of Habsburg, died with no direct heir to take over the throne of Spain. Before he died, he had named his half sister’s grandson, the Duke of Anjou, Phillip of Bourbon, as his successor to the Spanish crown under the name Felipe V. Felipe was also in the line of succession to the French throne.…

What did pirates eat?

Ships at a harbour mole and a yacht sailing away by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1673)What did pirates eat? Anything they could get their hands on. Although fresh produce was scarce on long sea voyages, pirates didn’t usually spend as long at sea as the average sailor on a naval ship or merchantman. They would normally sail out from their base to seize there pray and return with their booty, where they could purchase fresh provisions. When no friendly port was available, food could be obtained by foraging on one of the many islands or even from plundering. After the fall of the pirate nest Nassau in 1718 and with the increasing pressure on pirates from the Royal Navy, their bases no longer existed and the sea rovers probably had to go for longer periods without fresh food.

Topgallant Jack

The Cornish duo Topgallant Jack are singers of shanties, sea songs and Cornish songs. Their aim is to entertain by singing and keeping alive songs from the past and by writing and performing new material too. They arrange some of the traditional tunes in a slightly different way, whilst retaining the original flavour and meaning of the song.

 

The Three Ravens

It didn’t take long for things to settle down once again, and soon most were dancing to an upbeat, out-of-tune rendition of The Twa Corbies.

The song in the story should really be called The Three Ravens as The Twa Corbies was a later Scottish version. The Three Ravens is an English folk ballad, printed in the song book Melismata compiled by Thomas Ravenscroft and published in 1611, but it is perhaps older than that.

The original version is about three ravenous ravens who have come across the body of a slain knight. They are prevented from feasting on the corpse by the knight’s two loyal hounds who are guarding their dead master. The knight’s hawk also circles above the body to drive off any carrion birds. The pregnant doe is a metaphor for his lover, who is carrying his child. She kisses his wounds and takes him away to be buried.…