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A Pirate's Eye Patch Made Him A Better Night Fighter

February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 214

I like pirate stories and tales and folklore about pirates, and when the TV show Myth Busters had one show dedicated to pirate myths I wanted to see it. Some of the Myth Buster shows are more than a little lame, but this one was very good.

One of the myths they investigated was why did pirates use eye patches. One theory was it let them have better night vision, not that they had a bad eye. When you go from a bright area to a dim area it takes a few minutes for our eyes to adjust. The theory actually made sense. By covering one eye, they always had one eye that was ready for low light night vision.

The pirates did not use the patches all the time. They used them when they were ready to fight or when a fight might break out. If they were fighting in bright sunlight on a ships' deck and chased someone below deck in to the dark of the ship they would uncover their dark ready eye and be able to see in the low light. Or if they were below deck at night with bright lantern light and had to go on deck where it was dark they could uncover the dark ready eye and still see OK.

Our eyes have two types of cells in them that let us see. The cone cells are used in bright light and the rod cells are used in low light. When a rod cell is exposed to a bright light it cannot work. It takes about 30 minutes for rod cells to recover after a bright light exposure and work in low light. That is the science behind the idea of the eye patch.

The Myth Busters tested this theory out first by asking an eye doctor if the idea was sound. The eye doctor said it did make sense. They tested the theory by having the two main hosts put on eye patches and then go through a dark obstacle course after being out side. They first tried to go through using the bright light eye. Then they tried the course with patched eye. They found they had big problems with the bright light eye and much less problems when they used the low light eye that was unpatched after entering the dark area. They were more than surprised at the difference.

Today the military uses red lights at night so that the eyes are dark ready and they now have electronic night scopes that see in the dark. I was nicely surprised that the pirates also had a night vision tactic.

I got to thinking about people who use one contact lens to see far and one to see near. I wonder which eye they would patch.

Our big sail boat has one cabin light that has a red bulb in half of it and the navigation desk area has red LED lights in it for when you are sailing a night, but our small boat is not so equipped. I think I will get pirate eye patches with skull and crossbones on the patch and put them in the navigation box for the small boat. Maybe a cutlass and a flintlock would go well just in case... Arrrg me hearties Yo ho Yo Ho

They also discussed the myth that Rum would clean most stains from their clothes. This was not true, so don't waste your rum on that. I need rum for the navigation box, me thinks. Drink up me hearties Yo ho Yo ho...

There is a bit of truth in the myth that eye patches made the pirates better fighters and gave them an advantage in a fight.

Daniel Sprague, owner of http://www.digitalcompassshop.com, is a sailor, cruiser and internet entrepreneur. Our goal is to provide the mariner with good quality products and information. My partner and I also have a website featuring nautical lighting for the home. We often find we can integrate our boating experience with our home. It lets us think outside the box...and that has opened up new ideas.

Source: EzineArticles
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