Pirate flags on our houseboat

Our houseboat is decorated all over with pirate flag and pirate-themed stuff. The boat’s owner even has control knobs shaped like skulls on the dashboard. I was just thinking about this as I read about the Pirate Bay arrests and shutdown, realizing how common pirate themed decorations are. I even have a Piratpartiet sticker on my laptop!

Though pirate flags are common on the boats in our harbor, ours is the biggest and brightest. Moomin got it last year for a birthday present; it has gold trim and is very sturdy, like something you’d buy at a special store for outdoor flags. The sword handles are bones.

pirate flags

The other flag at our bow is old and faded: “The beatings will continue until morale improves” which was the boat owner’s sense of humor. When I first saw it I thought, “Oh, this is going to be good.”

pirate flags

Last year at Ephemerisle we made our own flags, including a pirate flag and a Cat Pirate flag.

How to make a pirate flag

* Black Ripstop fabric
* White ripstop fabric
* Black duct tape
* Glue

Making flags

* 1) Cut out your flag from black ripstop.
* 2) Fold a strip of black duct tape along one of the sides to make a hem.
* 3) Punch 2 holes in the hem. This is for tying your flag to a pole!
* 4) Cut out two skull shapes from white. Cut eye, nose, and mouth holes.
Cut out 4 long bones or crossed swords.
* 5) Now glue the white shape to the black flag so that the images line up on both sides.

You have made a fabulous pirate flag! Tie it to something and let your pirate flag fly!

You don’t really need ripstop, but it’s durable, doesn’t fray so you don’t have to hem it, and it doesn’t fade in wind, sun, and water.

You don’t even really need fabric. If you just want a quick project for a little kid, make a flag out of construction paper and tape it to a stick. Tape down the seam, and holes punched in the tape, are very helpful to keep the flag waving freely but without ripping. A little piece of yarn or string tied into each hole and then onto a stick looks cooler than tape, but tape is easier for a small child to handle.

To teach a kid how to cut out a skull shape, have them cut an oval out first. Then fold the oval in half very lightly. Cut out a shallow scoop on the rounded edge to make the jaw narrower than the top of the skull. Then while the skull is still folded in half, cut across the fold to make the mouth and nose holes. You will need to make a little fold across the brow of the skull, the other direction, to cut out half circles for eye holes. Once it’s unfolded they will need to trim the jaw to make it a nice shape.

And of course there’s a lot of scope for creativity here. If you want a weird pirate flag, add something colorful to it. Here’s our Cat Pirate flag from last year! This might also look good as a black and white flag with a cat skull with ears, pointed teeth, and white whiskers even though ears and whiskers obviously aren’t part of a skull.
magnificent flag

Our doormat on the boat is a big pirate flag that says “Keep Out”:
pirate flags

We have one more pirate thing – a bright pink metal sign on deck that says “Surrender the Booty”, which I also thought was hilarious and tacky.

pirate flags

Here’s the totally Harley-licious skulls on the boat dashboard! They crack me up!
pirate flags

Other boat decor which I have left in place: The giant scary fake-plaster head of Poseidon decorated with fake ivy! We adorned him with fuzzy dice and sunglasses. Creepy, isn’t he? He also makes me think of The Big Lebowski.

pirate flags

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7 Responses to Pirate flags on our houseboat

  1. I'm so ambivalent about pirate imagery. I mean, I know more about how awful the reality is now, but my brain can't shake the cuteness that lingers from childhood.

  2. Just don't take your boat out on the coast of Africa or in Latin America. The flags have an entire different meaning there.

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