Tall Ship: Brigantine

Brigantine copperEtch.pngBrigantines are one of my favorite tall ships! They have two-masts with square rigging on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigging on the mainmast. And its gaff-rigged mainsail distinguishes it from the completely square-rigged brig. A typical brigantine in the 18th century displaced 100 tons, were 65-80 feet long, held 8-10 guns, and carried a crew of about 100.

Between 1710 and 1730, 10% of the recorded attacks along the Caribbean and North America indicated the pirates were sailing in brigs or brigantines. In addition, pirates often converted three-masted ships into brigantines by removing the mizzen mast and moving the mainmast aft. They lopped off the forecastle, pilot’s cabin, and much of the quarterdeck to make them lighter and faster. Swirl guns would be added and gun ports would be cut.

In my novel, Death Island, Meriden hires a merchant brigantine called the “Orion.” I describe it as having beautiful white sails, golden honey stain, and light blue trim. At the front, a figurehead of two wolves bounding toward the shore beside the half-naked, Greek goddess, Artemis. Her bow by her side as she reaches for an arrow from her quiver.


  • Cawthorne, N. (2003). A History of Pirates: Blood and Thunder on the High Seas. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc
  • Cordingly, D. (1995). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates. New York, New York: Harcourt Brace
  • Woodard, C. (2007) The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. New York, New York: Mariner Books