Design and Modification of Pirate Ships
The pirate ships were not designed by the pirates, but were stolen and some modifications were done by the pirate crew. In contrast to these, the government-approved pirates known as the privateers had the liberty to design their ships for performance and safety. The pirate ships were not custom-built, but were modified for cannon power, fast speed, and quick boarding. Sometimes superficial superstructure was cut away to make the ship light.
When a pirate captain captured a ship and found it suitable to make his flagship, he would have some modifications done to suit pirate tasks. Generally ships of that time served as man-of -war as well as merchantmen as the conditions then demanded. It meant that they were a compromise between the two types of ships.
The pirates had no use for extra storage spaces and extra superstructure, so they would remove it. As pirates would chase the merchant ships and run away from the government ships or man-of-wars, they had to be light. So the pirates used to remove all extra weights extra food, extra water, etc., as they did not go for long sailing, but preferred to be hide near the coast waiting for their prey.
Once a ship was taken over, it was strengthened on the hull, the cannon power was increased, the masts put up larger sails, the ship was beached and the hull smoothened, and the extra cargo removed. They often would remove the forecastle and the quarter deck to make way for a larger sail.
The advantages of removing the various partitions inside the ship was that the ship became less top heavy and the stability of the ship improved. This also caused the ships to have less draught and allowed them to escape where the water was shallow. The other advantage was that approach inside the ship to and fro was made easier in the times of battle, and arms and provisions could be more easily transferred from one end to the other.