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Question of Théo and Sarah (01.31.2023): How far away is the horizon when looking at the sea?
Horizon distance calculator R: Here is a table containing different heights in relation to sea level, to give you an idea:
You are lying on the sand and look at the sea at 20 cm from the ground1.60 km
A standing adult, estimating his eyes at 1.70 m tall4,65 km
The tallest man in the world, Robert Wadlow 2.72m,
estimating his eyes at 2.55m tall
5.70 km
Depuis le pont du navire de blackbeard, on his frigate
the Queen Anne's Revenge, at 6 m high
8.74 km
From the lookout of the frigate Hermione at 50 m high
or from the top of a lighthouse.
25.24 km
From the top of the spire of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, 96 m high34.97 km
On top of the Eiffel Tower, 300 m high61.83 km
On top of the Burj Khalifa Tower to Dubaï, 828 m high / 163 floors102.72 km
On top of the Mont Blanc, 4 808 m high247.54 km
On top of the Everest, 8 848 m high335.77 km
from an aircraft at an altitude of 10,000 m356.96 km

Try the horizon calculator

Enter the height you want in meters, and observe the result.


where d = distance, R = radius of the earth or 6371.009 km, h = height of the point of view towards the horizon.
We use km for d and R and meters for h, so it must be divided by 1000.

The right questions!

« And if I use binoculars, can I see further? »

Paradoxically, no! This does not change anything because considering an object on the water and because of the curvature of the earth, it is not possible to see behind the horizon. Hence the use of the radius of the earth in the formula.

« What about atmospheric disturbances and other natural elements that interfere with the view? »

Indeed, there are many factors that can vary the distance to the visible horizon, such as:

  • the relief of the waves,
  • the refraction of the electromagnetic waves according to the nature of the atmosphere, which causes a kind of lifting of the horizon, which moves away the limit. This can reproduce the effect of mirage as if the earth was "less" round.
  • the curvature of the earth,
  • the temperature,
  • thehumidity,

« I read that the earth was not round, so the radius R is not the right one? »

Indeed, the earth is not round, it has rather an elliptic shape, very light of course.
The equatorial radius of the Earth is 6,378.137 km, the polar radius is 6,356.752 km, the radius from the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is 6,352.8 km, the radius from the summit of Chimborazo is 6,384.415 km, the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is a delta of about 32 km.
The formula therefore takes into account the average radius, i.e. 6,371.009 km, which is the unit of length used in fields such as astronomy and geology.

Question of Marcus (01.07.2023): Which pirates have made the most catches?
Pirates on board A: It was between 1716 and 1726 that pirates captured the most ships, and did much more damage to trade than the naval campaigns of the empires and privateers during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713). This is an extraordinary statement made by Captain Johnson - who is actually Daniel Defoe, or Nathaniel Mist according to some, the reality remains to be proven, but that's another story.

The prize for the greatest number of catches made by pirates*

  • The trophy goes unquestionably to the pirate Bartholomew Roberts who captured and pillaged more than 400 ships between 1719 and 1722.
  • In second place was the pirate Edward Low, who captured nearly 140 ships.
  • The terrifying Edward Teach, also known as blackbeard, captured almost as many between the end of 1716 and the end of 1718.
  • Captain Sam Bellamy and his fellow pirates captured more than 50.
  • Next came Edward England and Charles Vane with 50 each.
  • Then Charles Harris with 45.
  • Francis Spriggs: 40.
  • James Philips: 34.
  • George Lowther: 33.
  • Richard Holland: 25.

If we estimate that the 70 other pirate captains listed seized an average of 20 ships each, we obtain a total of more than 2,400 ships captured and pillaged**.
Declaration made by Sieur Jean Rousseau, surgeon on the Bon-Pasteur, of Honfleur, Captain Grout, concerning the capture of this ship by the forbidding off Guadeloupe However, the count may be underestimated, because according to the declaration of a surgeon captured by Captain Montigny of Dunkirk, more than 200 ships were pillaged. He is therefore second in the list***.
<== See the statement opposite, at the bottom of the 1st page.

It is important to note that many pirate captains were sometimes magnanimous and would return the catch to the victims, provided they did not make too much of a fuss and were from a nation that the pirates did not hate.
Pirates had little means of reselling large goods such as sugar, tobacco, or spices, and preferred to take only a little booty, food, drink, and medicine.

During this golden age of piracy, there was a real crisis in maritime trade, so much so that rival empires were forced to cooperate. In 1721, the British and French governments in the Caribbean concluded an agreement for joint protection.

The biggest catch ever made

The biggest catch ever made was undoubtedly that made by the French pirate Olivier Levasseur, known as La Buse, and Taylor who captured La Vierge du Cap (the Virgin of the Cape / Nossa Senhora do Cabo), a flagship of the Portuguese Navy of 800 tons and 72 cannons. The ship was carrying the Viceroy of the Portuguese East Indies and the Archbishop of Goa. The immense treasure contained rivers of diamonds, jewels, pearls, gold and silver bars, furniture, cloth, sacred vessels and other precious objects of worship, a treasure that historians estimate at 5 billion euros. This capture is undoubtedly the largest in the history of piracy.

Sources :
* : Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 - Markus Rediker
** : History of Pyrates - History Shipping Industry
*** : Declaration made by the surgeon Jean Rousseau, scan - Pirates day by day - Jean-Pierre Moreau

Question of Julie (08.30.2022): What are the most famous pirate ship names?
R: Many pirate ships are famous, not only for the fame of their captains, but also for the feats they performed and the discovery of their wrecks centuries later.

The Queen Anne's Revenge ship of the pirate blackbeard

Queen Anne's Revenge

Frigate of the pirate blackbeard (blackbeard en français, supposedly named Edward Drummond). This 300-ton, 26-gun ship, built in 1710, was engaged in the slave trade and owned by the Frenchman René Montaudouin and was called "Le Concorde". blackbeard seized it on 28 November 1717. It was sunk in May 1718 off Beaufort, North Carolina and was recovered in 1996.

The frigate Adventure Galley of the pirate William

Adventure Galley

An English ship of the pirate William Kidd (or Captain Kidd) in 1698, armed with 36 guns and a crew of 70 men.
It was a hybrid ship, combining square-rigged sails and oars to give it manoeuvrability in both wind and calm.
The ship was bought for £8,000, or £970,000 today, equivalent to about €1.2 million. She could reach 14 knots (26 km/h) under full sail.
By 1698, the ship's hull had become so rotten that it was no longer seaworthy. She was stripped of everything movable and sunk off the northeast coast of Madagascar according to Captain Kidd, but was reportedly washed ashore in Madagascar according to William Jenkins, one of Captain Kidd's crew. Her remains have not yet been found.

Whydah Gally of the pirate Samuel « Black Sam » Bellamy

Whydah Gally

Ship of the pirate Samuel « Black Sam » Bellamy. It sank in a storm off Cape Cod on 26 April 1717 with its captain and almost the entire crew. The wreck was recovered in 1996 and contained many riches.

Brigantine The Ranger of the pirate Charles Vane

The Ranger

Brigantine of 12 guns and 80 men belonging to the pirate Charles Vane.

Sloop The Revenge renamed Royal James by the pirate Stede Bonnet

Royal James

Sloop of the pirate Stede Bonnet in 1718. Unusually, it was Bonnet himself who bought the 10-gun ship, which he named The Revenge. Later, in order to escape the King's pardon and the resumption of his piracy activities, he renamed his ship The Royal James, probably in honour of the Knight of St. George, the son of the banished English king, James II

Flying Dragon sloop of the pirate Edmund Condent

Flying dragon (le Dragon Volant)

Sloop of the pirate Edmund Condent in 1719. He captured this Dutch-origin ship in the Cape Verde Islands.

Frigate Charles II renamed The Fancy by the pirate Henry Every


Ship of the pirate Henry Every known as Long Ben between May 1694 and late 1695.
The Fancy was a 46-gun frigate originally named Charles II, in the service of Spain, previously commanded by Captain Gibson.
Henry Every had the Fancy refitted in the Comoros Islands, intentionally removing parts of the ship's superstructure to increase her speed. As a result of this work, the Fancy became one of the fastest ships in the Indian Ocean.
Although the fate of the Fancy is unknown, it is rumoured that Every gave it to the Governor of Nassau as a bribe. There is documentary evidence that the Fancy ran aground in New Providence and that Governor Trott had the cannons and anything else of value stripped off.
The painting on the right is the ship The Charles Galley, which is a very similar ship to The Fancy.


Ship of the English buccaneer Henry Morgan in 1669.
This ship was ordered from the Deptford Dockyard on 28 December 1654 and delivered in November 1656. The shipowner was Manley Callis who served from 1634 to 1657. The Oxford was armed with 18 guns and passed through the hands of ten captains in the 13 years of her existence.

The wreck was discovered in 1980 by Erick Surcouf (descendant of the famous privateer Robert Surcouf).

La Vierge du Cap (The Virgin of the Cape) renamed as Le Victorieux (The Victorious)

Ship of the pirate Olivier Levasseur, known as La Buse, which he refitted in April 1721 and renamed Le Victorieux. This 72-gun ship originally belonged to the Portuguese and carried the vice king of the East Indies and the archbishop of Goa.

Royal Fortune

Sloop of the pirate Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart or Black baronet) in 1722.


Dutch 34-gun ship of the pirate Edward England in 1720.

The William

Sloop of the pirates Calico Jack (Jack Rackham) and Ann Bonny in 1720.

You can see the Queen Anne's Revenge and the Whydah Gally in the video below, which shows the differences in size of the ships from the 17th century to today.

© Illustrations: Tony Bryan - « The Pirate Ship 1660-1730 «, Osprey publishing,

Question of Maureen - Nyn B. (04.19.2016): I'm a writer and I would like to know whether there are very specific first names of pirates or there are some that would be better. And the last names? Thank you for your cooperation!
pirates crewA: You can see the names of the crew of blackbeard a.k.a. Edward Teach (or Drummond) at this link.

Here is in particular the list of the crew of Edward Low.

The full names are more mundane. But bear in mind that many pirates preferred to use nicknames. These nicknames were not all wacky, like blackbeard (Edward Teach), the Exterminator (Monbars), La Buse (Olivier Levasseur), Calico Jack (John Rackham), etc ... there were some common names invented to leave no trace of their past, because they were often thieves, former Royal Navy (which inflicted harsher punishments than its soldiers did as pirate captains) and other criminals.
© Painting: Frederick Judd Waugh "The Buccaneers"

Question of Anonymous (04.15.2016): How old was blackbeard when he died?
blackbeard in smoke and flames, painting by Frank E. Schoonover - 1922A: blackbeard would have been about 38 years old when he died; his exact birth date is unknown, but it is around 1680.

He died on November 22, 1718 in a violent struggle against Lieutenant Maynard of the Royal Navy.
© blackbeard in smoke and flames, painting by Frank E. Schoonover - 1922

Question of Justine (03.02.2016): To reply to a game at school, 1.What did pirates hide in the sand? 2.What operation should incoming pirates perform on a dock side in order not to fail? 3.Where are the toilets on a boat?
the french movie L'île auX TrésorsA: 1. They hid a chest filled with gold coins :)

2. Pirates had furled the sails (the fold accordion on the yard) and anchor

3. On a small ship there are none, they do it overboard. On the largest ships the toilets are at the bow (front).

More seriously, in response to question 1 pirates rarely hid their treasures in the ground because they spent them on drinking, playing, and pleasures of the flesh. And in the extremely rare occasions when they needed to bury them they would well ensure that there was no leakage of the location of the loot, and they would destroy evidence with the Treasury. So the pirates dug deep! :)
A good example is written about blackbeard.
© Photo : the french movie "L'île auX Trésors"

Question of lola (11.11.2015): Could pirates catch gangrene on boats?
GangrenousA: Yes, and they had a strong chance of having gangrene because naval battles and their collisions inflicted injuries and drugs were scarce.

Some pirates even went so far as to demand ransom for their prisoners against drugs, as did blackbeard.

Question of Koolaza (11.05.2015): Do you know of pirates or privateers who enjoyed great fame in and around 1720?
A: Here are some famous figures around 1720:

The Pirates :
- Olivier Levasseur (a.k.a. La Buse),
- John Rackham (a.k.a. Calico Jack),
- Anne Bonny,
- Mary Read,
- Edward Teach (a.k.a. blackbeard, who died in 1718),
- Bartholomew Roberts,
- Edward Low

- René Duguay-Trouin,
- Claude Forbin,
- Jacques Cassard, ...

Question of webrodeur (10.24.2015): What are the most common diseases encountered on boats in the eighteenth century?
A: The pirates were dying more often of disease than in fighting due to poor hygiene on boats, stale food, stale water...

Typhus and typhoid were most common, other common diseases were scurvy, malaria, dysentery, yellow fever.

During the looting of ships or ports pirates were not only interested in gold or valuables, but also in medical supplies. blackbeard also besieged a city and pressurised prisoners to obtain drugs.

Question of julie (10.20.2015): Who are the four most famous pirates?
A: The four most famous pirates are in order:

blackbeard the pirate - Edward Teach the "blackbeard", who during 2 years shook the southern United States and the Caribbean. He is the most famous figure of piracy.

Henry Morgan - Henry Morgan, who performed prodigious shipments. He managed to move from pirate to a respectable governor.

Bartholomew Roberts - Bartholomew Roberts, who led the career of the most successful pirate in history, plundering some 400 ships.

Olivier Levasseur known as La Buse - Olivier Levasseur known as "La Buse" who left his cryptogram and clues etched on stones indicating the location of his treasure still missing to this day.

But it is difficult to name only four pirates. There are a few others well known:

William Kidd - William Kidd, privateer sent to the Indian Ocean to chase pirates, and turned pirate himself. He was executed and displayed in a gibbet cage.

Anne Bonny - Anne Bonny, a very famous female pirate who had extraordinary courage and could fight better than a man when she was enraged!

François Nau, L'Olonnais - François Nau, the cruelest French pirate.

Question of fiolene (10.16.2015): Hello, I would like to know how pirates are dressed?
blackbeard's clothesA: The pirate was excluded from society, he was marginal. There could be several outfits. He wore the clothes he plundered from his enemies, such as the bourgeois or foreigners. But the hard life onboard a ship required simple and especially practical clothes.
- A belt to put the cutlass and flintlock pistols on,
- A scarf on his head to protect him from splinters due to the impact of the ball on the sides of the ship.
- Marine jacket made of highly resistant wool fabric. Molded clothes were too dangerous in combat because of shrapnel! So they had loose clothing, but not too much so as not to be hampered in their daily tasks onboard.
- Pants.
- Bare foot on the deck of a ship to adhere well.

Some pirates dressed wildly, like John Rackham who wore brightly colored clothing. blackbeard used a great scarf to place his six guns under and wore a hat under which he lit firebrands of which the black smoke gave him a terrifying appearance!

Question of Derground (07.28.2015): Hello! I would like to know all the names of a pirate or privateer crew captain with sailors. Thank you in advance.
A: Amazing question! Probably intended for a role play:)
Here’s the crew of blackbeard a.k.a. Edward Teach in 1718:

James Blake,
Joseph Brooks,
John Carnes,
Joseph Curtice,
Stephen Daniel,
Thomas Gates,
Garrat Gibbens (Maître de manoeuvre),
John Gills,
Richard Greensail,
Israël Hands,
John Husk,
Nath. Jackson,
John Martin,
Thomas Miller (Quartier-maître),
Phillip Morton (Cannonier),
Samuel Odell,
Joseph Philips,
James Robbins,
Owen Roberts (Charpentier),
Edward Salter,
Richard Stiles,
Edward Teach (Commandant),
James White

Question of suspect (07.24.2015): Who is the pirate who collected the most balls and injuries? Please cite the number of injuries.
blackbeard vs MaynardA: This is blackbeard who died in battle in 1718 against the Royal Navy.
25 injuries were counted on him in total: 20 stab wounds and 5 gunshots.

Question of Anonymous (07.21.2015): I wonder how many men there were on a pirate ship. Thank you in advance!
pirates crewA: A: It depends on the size of the pirate ship. During spike ports there could be 200 pirates on frigates.
But when they hunted their victims (often merchantmen), there were between 30 to 75, often on a smaller ship, but light and fast, such as the barque, sloop or schooner.

Surprise and cunning were their main tactics. Once engaged boarding, they screamed to destabilize the opponent. They had tattoos on the body. The pirate blackbeard cultivated his image of a fury monster. In battle he had a habit of hanging two burning torches under his hat to emit smoke and make the opponent believe that he was the devil from the underworld.

Question of berserk.99 (07.09.2015): Who was the cruelest pirate? And who was the fairest?
Edward Low a.k.a. Ned LowA: The cruelest pirate is undoubtedly Edward Low (1690-1724, 34 years old), know as Ned Low, followed by Nau l'Olonnais and Edward Teach (blackbeard). These are gratuitous violent pirates. Edward Low attached to a mast and cook burned the boat, cut an enemy captain’s lips for "lying", and roasted them in his presence, etc.

The fairest is not an applicable question, because a pirate becomes a pirate because he will inevitably be looted or killed.
But if we speak of converted pirates, I can quote Captain James Misson who tried to found the free city of Libertalia or Henry Morgan who later became Governor of Jamaica.
There was also the pirate Edward England who took pity on his prisoners and wanted to save them from execution, but his crew was displeased and left captain England on the island of Mauritius.
© Photo: Capt Edward Low in ye Hurricane which He and All the Crew had Like to Perish'd by J Nicholls and James Basire,

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