A Pirate’s Gear

Pirate ships needed the same sorts of materials and supplies as merchant vessels to outfit their crews.


Nails were a multipurpose fastener aboard ships. In addition, a handful thrown into the muzzle of cannon served as an effective antipersonnel weapon or sail shredder during a battle.

Lead patch

Lead patches of various sizes and thicknesses are common finds on the wrecks of wooden ships. They were used for patching holes in the decks and hulls.

Cask and barrel hoops (casting)

On sailing ships, barrels were the most common containers for food, cargo, and other storage. These fragments represent a nest of barrel hoops. On many ships, the barrel hoops and staves were stacked and stored belowdecks; the barrels were only assembled as needed.

Lead sounding weight

Blackbeard eluded the British by using his knowledge of local waters to sail into shallow areas where bigger warships could not safely follow. He lowered this sounding lead over the side to learn the water depth under his vessel. The depression in the bottom was filled with tallow or wax to sample the bottom. Knowledge of the bottom conditions was needed for anchoring.