Sails and Weapons
Happy was the American privateer who owned a hat. Coated in tar, this headgear protected him from the fury of the Saint Lawrence in autumn.Whether adventurers or fishermen, fighters or businessmen, all crewmembers on a privateer ship had to go to sea.
Thus, most privateers were recruited amongst sailors and fishermen. Usually between the ages of 17 and 50, they became privateers for the money-and, sometimes, for the glory!
Although they were expected to place the interests of State above their own, it is a fact that, in reality, it was the lure of profit that won them over. Which explains this complaint by the Governor of Plaisance, Costebelle, to the Minister of Marine:
They are more concerned with money than with glory, and be they only equal in strength, they seldom engage, they seldom engage in any fierce combat.
LAC, MG1 C11C, 10.11.07
The loot for privateers in North America was quite different from that of their counterparts in the West Indies. In the North, cod was gold! Although it could be profitable, cod could also unfortunately go bad and the profits would disappear. In short, privateer crews had no assurance they would get their share of the booty.