Anne Bonny was an unlikely pirate. First of all, there weren’t many female pirates in her day, and most wore disguises to look like men. But not Anne. Second, she came all the way from Ireland to the Caribbean to commandeer her ships. And most impressive of all, she did all this sailing as a red-haired and freckly person in an age before sunscreen existed! We caught up with Anne on board her sloop while it was anchored in a secret cove, and she shared some numeric tricks of the trade with us!
Here be the tale, landlubber: I happened across two swashbucklers possessin’ great courage, Mary Read and John Rackham. Such a fine time we had together, we took our adventures to the high seas. We cobbled together a hearty crew of seadogs and have been sailin’ on this sloop ever since!
Why wouldn’t a pirate need to be cunning with numbers? Ye need knowledge just to look like a proper pirate – ye ever try to make an eye-patch or peg leg without a measuring tape?
The clever among us do – ye don’t want to be caught on the high seas with month-old drawers or smelly shirts, so I always bring a chest of cloth and thread and make new clothes as needed. That means consultin’ me calendar and multiplyin’ the cloth needed for one outfit by the number of weeks at sea.
It not be work if ye love it, and I love piratin’ more than anything! But to ye point, preparin’ for plunder is nothing but math – from bringin’ sufficient rations to studyin’ the wind and tide charts and readin’ treasure maps. Then once the anchor’s aweigh, it be crucial to know how speedy our sloop be, and how many knots quicker it needs to be to outpace other cursed vessels. I’ve spied many a young buccaneer befuddled by compass and map – thank Davy Jones I be steerin’, or we’d be sailin’ in circles from dawn to dusk!
Well, I’m co-captain with Mary and John; I just be the best navigator on deck. After every raid, thar be the dividin’ up of our booty, which can be a bit complex dependin’ upon the size of our crew. Whoever planned the mission takes home 1/3 of the treasure – that’s always Mary, John, or me. The two captains who didn’t plan the plunder split another 1/3 of the lot, which leaves 1/3 to be split evenly amongst the regular crew.
Thar be no complaints yet! Ye must understand how much our chests be burstin’ with gold. Our cabin boy makes more than ye average capt’n!
All the skills ye need to read a map and steer a ship – takin’ the correct angles to archipelagos, accountin’ for currents and wind speed, understandin’ speed in knots and knowin’ when ye need to increase ye speed. And I know it be surprisin’, but the best buccaneers be meticulous planners – like most endeavors, piratin’ be a matter of timing and preparation. Lesser pirates think we be lucky, but we just be more clever with the numbers!
Argh! Practice ye pirate math skills with our Swashbucklin’ Sums printable.