belaying pin

A short wooden rod to which a ship's rigging is secured. A common improvised weapon aboard a sailing ship, because they're everywhere, they're easily picked up, and they are the right size and weight to be used as clubs.


A muzzle-loading gun with a distinctive, flared muzzle, common among pirates and privateers, and typically loaded with a number of small lead balls. The purpose of the flared muzzle was to spread out the shot, though experiments have shown no difference compared to guns with a non-flared muzzle.



A small, often rounded shield held in one’s fist to protect against an opponent’s sword. The buckle could also be used to strike a blow to an opponent’s face.


case shot

A collection of small projectiles put in cases to fire from a cannon; a canister-shot.

See also grape shot.

cat o’ nine tails (or cat)

A whip with nine lashes used for flogging. "A taste of the cat" might refer to a full flogging.

chain shot

Two cannonballs chained together and aimed high in order to destroy masts and rigging.

chase guns

Cannon situated at the bow of a ship, used during pursuit.


A short, heavy sword with a curved blade used by pirates and sailors. The sword has only one cutting edge and may or may not have a useful point.


A cylindrical wicker basket filled with earth and stones, used in building fortifications.

grape shot

Small cannon balls packed into a cannon. Notably, the pirate Black Bart (Bartholomew Roberts) was killed by grapeshot.

See also case shot.

grapple (also grappling hook, grappling iron, or grapnel)

An iron shaft with claws at one end, usually thrown by a rope and used for grasping and holding, especially one for drawing and holding an enemy ship alongside.


A shot that scatters like hail when fired from a cannon.

powder chest

An exploding wooden box filled with scrap metals and gun powder, usually secured to the side of a ship to thwart a boarding enemy.


To render (a muzzleloading gun) useless by driving a spike into the vent.