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International Pirate Day

Sunday is International Talk like a Pirate day… so while the more capricious among us take to exclaiming “shiver me timbers” and other nautical utterances here are a few little known facts about pirates

Eyepatches In order to help their eyes adjust more quickly between the bright ship deck and the dark below

decks, pirates would patch one eye so it was always adjusted for the darkness

Earrings Many pirates wore them and for many reasons too: some wore them in recognition of having crossed the equator, others for rounding Cape Horn. Some were superstitious, thinking that an earring warded off bad eye sight or had healing powers. Most though were practical. A gold or silver earring was enough to cover the costs of their burial.

Accents (fitting for today) Pirates had no common accent as they hailed from all over the world, the pirate accent most familiar to Western Europeans and Americans? Invented by Disney!

Grog Named for the cloak of the admiral who invented it, grog in the Royal Navy was “The daily allowance of half a pint (of rum) a man ... to be mixed with a quart of water, ... mixed in one Scuttled Butt kept for that purpose, and to be done upon Deck, and in the presence of the Lieutenant of the Watch, who is to see that the men are not defrauded of their allowance of Rum; it is to be served in two servings, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The men … may…purchase Sugar and Limes to make the water more palatable to them.” The lime and sugar were to make the grog more appetizing, but they ended up saving thousands of sailors lives… The leading cause of naval death between 1500 and 1800, was scurvy. It killed more sailors “than all other diseases, disasters, and battles combined.” The lime helped prevent scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C. Sailors didn’t know that at the time though. (Bonus, grog was served on Royal Navy vessels until 1970!)

Proof The origin of the concept of Proof in alcohol is much more interesting than simple arithmetic. Back in the day, there was nothing worse for a sailor than to be issued watered-down rum. To test to make sure it was the real stuff, they’d mix it with gunpowder. The concoction would only light if it was higher than about 57 percent alcohol—a ratio that earned the distinction of “overproof.” Rum won’t explode? It’s underproof (and you’ve been ripped off).

And to help you get into the spirit of the day try this simple list of expressions

  • Ahoy! - Hello

  • Aye! - Yes

  • Booty - Treasure

  • Colors - Flag

  • Matey - Shipmate or friend

  • Hearties - Friends

  • Lass - Woman or girl

  • Avast! - Stop

  • Splice the mainbrace! Recommend a second (or additional) drink

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