Episode 92: Pirate Special 2

Air Date: November 28, 2007

In this episode, the Mythbusters tested several myths based on scenes from the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and other pirate movies.

Two pirates can use a rowboat as a makeshift submarine by walking along the ocean bottom and using the rowboat to hold a pocket of breathable air.

busted

On their first test, the Mythbusters tried walking into a pool with a rowboat over their heads, but their bodies were too buoyant and were unable to pull the rowboat to the bottom of the pool. To solve their buoyancy problem, the Mythbuster loaded themselves down with over sixty pounds of pirate gear and attempted the myth again, but met similar results. They then weighed the boat down with five hundred pounds of weights, but not even that was enough to keep the rowboat under the surface. The Mythbusters then calculated that it would take more than two thousand pounds of force to keep the rowboat and the air pocket underwater, making the myth impractical if not impossible. To explain the scene in the movie, the Mythbusters demonstrated that it was achieved through special effects and clever editing.

A person buried up to their neck in wet sand (dubbed a “sand necktie”) cannot escape their inevitable demise.

confirmed

Tory was buried in sand to test this myth. He was buried in dry sand up to his neck to see if the weight of sand would cause him to pass out, and if not, whether he could escape on his own. Within five minutes, Tory was able to free one of his arms. From there, it took him eighty six minutes to dig himself out of the sand. However, the Build Team decided to use more accurate conditions: they buried Grant in wet sand, continually adding water to simulate the rising tide. While Grant tried to escape, the water kept pushing the sand back into the cavities he was digging out, immobilizing him. Grant was eventually forced to rely on outside help to escape, confirming the myth that the sand necktie is lethal.

The following myths were tested using a period cannon and dead pigs as the targets. A control test was performed using grapeshot (a type of actual ammunition) and the target was destroyed.

Bottles of rum could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

busted

The glass shattered and the rum vaporized during the firing, leaving only small bits of glass to hit the target. Aside from superficial damage and the smell of rum, glass rum bottles were harmless.

Cutlery could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

busted

The cutlery did not cause any noticeable damage. All of the projectiles were spread too far out and lacked the force to cause any lethal damage.

Steak knives could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

plausible

Because they were placed in a container, the steak knives were all pointing forward and had their direction set. This allowed them to hit the target, causing serious cuts and lacerations.

A peg leg could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

busted

When fired from the cannon, the peg leg was completely destroyed, leaving no visible trace except for wood chips.

Nails could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

plausible

The sharp, heavy nails caused almost as much damage as the grapeshot, tearing through the target with relative ease. Adam likened the effect to that of a needlegun. The nail load was an accurate representation of improvised period cannister shot.

Chains could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

confirmed

The large, heavy chains were practically a cannonball in themselves, almost ripping the target in half. Similar heavy chain was used as period ammunition against other ships’ rigging.

A person can break a light bulb by spraying it with drain cleaner from spray bottle.

confirmed

The drain cleaner caused a thermal shock in the hot glass of the light bulb, causing it to shatter. This concept was also demonstrated during the Lethal Lava Lamp myth, when Grant successfully caused a lava lamp to explode by spraying it with water.

(This myth was a promotion for the upcoming MacGyver special.)

27 Comments

  1. David says:

    Back then clay jugs were used for rum; may have been more lethal.

  2. Kusumura says:

    Still, in the movie, it’s the supposedly that the rum was flammable.. Myth still busted =P.

  3. Miguel Ettema says:

    Out of curiosity, was the extreme slow-motion of the pirate pig being hit by the chain omitted from the show because it was deemed too graphic to show on television?

    Or (gasp) did they simply forget to hit record on the super high speed camera?

    I was somewhat disappointed that they didn’t have a super slow-mo of that. It would have been great to see just how the chain acts whilst in flight, though it’s fairly obvious given the damage done to the pig. It’s brutal.

  4. James B says:

    We just saw this episode in New Zealand. We didn’t even get to see what happened to the pig at all when they shot the chain at it. All we got was Jamie and Adam talking about it after the event. Very disappointing. What gives? Its a dead pig hung up by a huge hook in its head. How much more graphic can a chain hitting it be??

  5. Grey says:

    Yup, just saw the show here in New Zealand. I too am surprised at the US censors.

    Just how delicate are you guys. I mean, how many of you are vegetarians?

    Love the show!! Get with the Metric System. Logic must, surely, be right!

  6. Nick says:

    Just watched it here too, found the clip on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jThnx-wRek

  7. Lana says:

    Hey Mythbusters,
    Pigs look good when hit by chains but think about it…pigs have thicker skin than people. So…next time you test something that has to be accurate keep this comment in mind.

  8. Fred J. Notorious says:

    Me too, I watched it on Malaysian TV, and the chain part where it slices the pig is ripped off from the show. I dun think its graphic enough, since its a pig anyway.

  9. Justin Cullen says:

    I have seen worse on the nightly news at 6pm. How is it that a pig on a hook being shot with a chain is too graphic. Mythbusters was on Discovery starting at 10. The shot of chain would have happened at 10:45pm, surely anyone watching this would be an adult. Maybe mythbusters could do an adults only episode.

  10. clarissa says:

    Somehow I doubt that an “Adults only” episode… would be watched by adults only. After all, who’s stopping the kids?

    Note to the Mythbusters: Do you do internships? Coz I’d like one.

  11. Kent says:

    They just repeated this in NZ/AUS so I had to google it. Didn’t show anything at all here, just discussion about the worst they have ever seen – almost thought camera would turn and be sarcasm (nil effect). This is on late at night here (post 10pm) – I can turn the channel and see full frontal nudity or CSI Human Brain Lobotomy in HD but chain through some meat – no-way :) Thanks youtube.

  12. Dubrave says:

    Yeah, it was pretty bad, have a look here:

    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=QJOWKo0bkR4

    This was a repeated episode on Discovery in Australia, and they cut all vision of the pig and the damage done. Just made me do a search on the subject …

  13. Sain says:

    It has also been overlooked that Rum back in the day was over 100 proof in order to ensure that the gunpowder would ignite if rum got into it (as both were stored in the same place). This is the reason is it called 100 proof (by the best of my knowledge anyways) because it was proof of flammability (not a word to the best of my knowledge). So chances are the rum would ignite if it were of old navy caliber.

  14. Dean L says:

    How is breaking a light bulb a pirate myth?

  15. Bob says:

    If u shoot a bullet in a tornado will it curve?

  16. kbear says:

    for all those that missed the pig pirates dimise by chain

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=AU&hl=en-GB&v=QJOWKo0bkR4

    enjoy

  17. jeandre says:

    actualy where grant and karri buiry tory alive i think pirates would have pattered the ground to make it more difficult escape dont u think

  18. Matt.G says:

    Well im glad im not the only one who noticed the lack of footage from the test. Amazing what it did to the pig but no reason why it shouldn’t be shown on tv when you can see worse than that everyday on medical tv shows etc.. soft.

  19. James Lambertt says:

    I would have liked to see if the boat submarine would be possible with a less buoyant vessel and what if the weight of treasure chest full of metal would help keep the less buoyant boat work like a submarine.

  20. James Lambertt says:

    “jeandre: actualy where grant and kari buiry tory alive i think pirates would have pattered the ground to make it more difficult escape dont u think”

    i agree with that. i also think that a pirate would have to be restrained in a some manner to restrict mobility and make it impossible to escape. a simple rope would work to tie someone up.

  21. James Lambertt says:

    Cutlery could have been used by pirates as an improvised cannonball with lethal effects.

    busted”

    i don’t know if i’d say busted. if the cutlery were wrapped in a strong cloth or melted together that should work.

  22. grandpa says:

    row boat – didn’t work because there was too much air. they needed only to tip the boat to let some air out.Rum – i believe in the period shipboard rum was in small kegs.

  23. Johnson says:

    grandpa:
    row boat – didn’t work because there was too much air. they needed only to tip the boat to let some air out.
    That’s exactly what I was thinking. You wouldn’t need all that much air anyway for two people to go that short of a distance. Also,I don’t think it would be a good idea to be yelling at the other guy about how crazy an idea it is since you have limited air this would use it too fast.

  24. amateurmythbuster says:

    they showed the pig being cut in half on demand on comcast in alabama

  25. felixnoir says:

    During the Maori wars in New Zealand, there was one battle in a peach orchard where both sides ran out of musket balls and used peach stones instead.

  26. simon says:

    I was just watching and thought they needed to let some air out similar to comments above. Needs to be seen again

  27. Triune says:

    One thing I question… How could they bust a myth and then turn around and call it plausible?

    I mean, they bust cutlery… and then confirm a specific type of cutlery might be plausible.

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