The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 92: Pirate Special 2

Premier 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.)