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Episode 92: Pirates 2 (Row Boat Sub, Sand Neck Tie, Cannon Ball Chaos)

  • Row Boat Sub: Jamie and Adam busted the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow and Will Turner walk underwater with a row boat over their heads.
  • Buried in the Sand: You can die from being buried up to the neck in sand confirmed
  • MacGuyver mini-myth: A bottle of drain cleaner can blow-out a light bulb confirmed
  • Cannon ball chaos: Make-shift cannon ammo:
    • Ye old Pirate Rum (glass): busted
    • Forks and spoons: busted
    • Steak knives: plausible
    • Peg leg: busted
    • Nails: plausible
    • Chain link: confirmed

What's a Pirate's favorite element? Arrrrgon

Row Boat Sub

Myth: You can turn a row boat upside town and use it as a makeshift sub

This myth was used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean -- Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner find a row boat on the beach and sneak out into the water with it over their heads. As they enter deeper water, they are able to use it as a makeshift sub to walk along the bottom of the water, with the boat providing air for them to breath.

Jamie and Adam walked out into a swimming pool in Oakland pool with the upside-down row boat over the head. They made their way into deeper waters and quickly found themselves hovering -- they were too buoyant to walk along the bottom. They added more 'pirate' gear to their bodies (e.g. cutlasses and pistols) to see if the additional gear would push them to the bottom. The second run had the exact same results.

They decided to approach the problem from the other direction and see if it was even possible to hold onto the boat while it was at the bottom. They put on scuba gear and sunk the boat to the bottom. 200 lbs of barbells were used to keep the boat on the bottom and another 500 lbs of barbells was attached to Jamie and Adam to keep them anchored. As the boat caught the air bubbles from Jamie and Adam's tanks, it quickly became too much for them to hold onto and floated to the top. Clearly it wasn't really possible for two people to even hold the boat below water even while anchored.

Finally, they put the boat right-side up and started filling it with water and weights until it started to sink. It took 2000 lbs to sink the boat, which means that you 2000 lbs of force to hold onto the boat.

They showed one last sequence to demonstrate how they could have shot the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: they could have drilled some holes in the boat in order to walk with the boat underwater.


Buried in the Sand (Sand Neck Tie)

Myth: You can die from being buried up to the neck in sand -- the incoming tide will kill you.

Pirates purportedly used this technique on their enemies. They would be buried up to the neck along the beach at low tide. As the tide came in, the person would drown. Others speculate that the sand pressure alone could kill by making it difficult to breathe.

Tory was buried in a wetsuit up to his neck on the beach in a patch of drier sand. The "Burrowing Belleci" finally dug through cave-in after cave-in to escape in 86 minutes.

Grant was up next with a new experiment. They built a wooden box to hold wet sand and a buried Grant. In case of an emergency, the straps could be released to open the box.

The wet sand was much heavier and Grant could only wiggle his fingers and toes -- his arms were immobile. Kari continued to water the sand to simulate incoming tide as Grant made his escape attempt. Grant gave up as was released from his sand prison.

confirmed Wet sand is too heavy to escape from and you would likely drown if imprisoned in this manner

Cannon Ball Chaos

Myth: In Pirates of the Caribbean, they tossed anything available (e.g. silverware, flask) into the cannon barrel and shot it at their enemy. The cutlery stuck in the wood (and wooden eye) of the other boat.

Adam and Jamie went out to the Alameda County Bomb Disposal Range to test this pirate movie myth. They broke out the "Cannonball vs. Shrapnel Myth" cannon for their new tests. The "Old Moses" cannon is a replica of a 1841 six-pound-ball cannon that shoots at 900 mph. They were allowed to stick anything less than 3.25" round and 12 lbs into the cannon as test shot. As often the case, pig carcasses were used to judge the damage from the shots.

  • Grape Shot (control): they packed a canister of large metal balls as a period-accurate comparison. The mega-shotgun annihilated the pig target.
  • Ye old Pirate Rum (glass): the carcass was flecked with glass and had one small piece embedded, but nothing lethal. busted
  • Forks and spoons: the cutlery was mangled but nothing stuck in the pig. It might be lethal to someone in the blast zone, but it wasn't very effective. busted
  • Steak knives: the steak knives caused some good sized gashes in the carcass. plausible
  • Peg leg: the peg leg turned into tiny splinters busted
  • Nails: their 'flachette' gun ripped through the pig carcass and almost caused as much damaged as the grape shot plausible
  • Chain link: the chain caused the most damage of any of their shots, nearly severing the carcass in half. confirmed

MacGuyver mini-myth: A bottle of drain cleaner can blow-out a light bulb

Adam performed this myth as a promo for an upcoming MacGuyver-myths episode. MacGuyver used this technique in an episode to take out the light bulbs and throw the room into darkness. Adam shot the drain cleaner at the bulb and it burst almost immediately. The thermal shock caused the glass to shatter.