This is an Official Player's Guide from the Pirates Online Website.
What is Privateering?
While the term "Privateer" was first documented in the 17th century, officially sanctioned Pirates have been around for centuries. Privateering allows a Pirate to become an agent of a government and become a "legitimate Pirate," if you will. Pirates are issued a "private license" by the government they side with, which grants the holder rights to attack the enemies of that government.
Garcia de Avaricia and Pierre le Porc
Garcia de Avaricia is a Spanish Pirate and the self-proclaimed "Lord" of Isla De La Avaricia. Avaricia spends the majority of his day plotting the demise of his rival Pierre le Porc. In between swigs of rum, he counts his fortune while recruiting Pirates to his cause.
Pierre le Porc is a French Pirate "Lord" and rules over Ile D'Etable De Porc. le Porc prefers to refer to himself as a "refined gentleman of acquisition" - with his focus constantly on acquiring more territory, more gold, and more men to take up arms against his rival Garcia de Avaricia.
The first order of business is to get to one of the privateer islands. You can choose from either Ile D'Etable De Porc (French) or Isla De La Avaricia (Spanish). Bear in mind that once you have a ship, you can always teleport those islands. Sailing out to these islands can be somewhat dangerous given the tendency of Jolly's army to haunt that area.
Feel free to talk to the inhabitants on the islands, the folks with question mark icons give you useful hints and tips about Privateering, while others will sell you valuable ammo and items you'll need for ship combat. You can even take quests to defeat other players in ship combat.
Captain Garcia de Avaricia dispenses good advice - like don't return to his island empty-handed, always bring something nice, like a crate of gold.
It is recommended that you gather a crew going to sea. Having other people on board allows the captain to concentrate on maneuvering and broadsides. This gives your ship a powerful punch with special ammunition that only talented cannoneers can use. Moreover, having more Pirates on board allows you to repair your ship faster, which will come in handy -- trust us on this one mate.
At any time, you can press "~" in order to see how many ships are currently Privateering, as well as, their score and bounty. (See Bounty and Scoring) Chances are you'll want to find an ocean with a lot of Pirates already playing in it as it'll make for a more exciting and challenging battle. Keep in mind, you will not be able to launch Privateering for the French or Spanish side if either team already has more ships at sea and is too powerful.
Launching and Crews
Playing as a Privateer is as simple as launching your boat from one of the Privateer islands. You'll be on the same team as everyone else that launches from that island. You'll also notice your boat is already facing the enemy's island.
Pierre le Porc keeps the Ile D'Etable De Porc running smoothly with a steady supply of rum and gold.
When launching, you'll have a protective field around your ship. However, be aware that after a few minutes or when you sail away from your island you'll lose this protective field. If there are enemies nearby, it's best to chase them off before you lose the protective field.
Once you have several ships on your team, you might find that it is advantageous to sail in fleets, privateering teamwork is extremely powerful.
You can also set "Looking for Crew" in the Lookout panel at any time (Press the 'L' key to toggle the Lookout Panel). This will help fill missing spots on your deck if you're looking for help.
You should know that you will not get rewards for sinking Navy or EITC ships, but that doesn't mean that you can't hide behind them. They aren't looking for trouble with privateers … so they won't attack you without good reason (generally the "good reason" being that you shot them first).
Bounty and Scoring
You might notice as you sink enemies -- or they sink you -- that two things happen: first, you'll receive some salvage for sinking an enemy, depending on how much damage you do. This will be used to repair the boat over time. Next, you'll gain some gold for sinking them, based on how many enemies they have defeated … and your bounty will go up. Keep an eye out for ships with high bounty … most likely they are dangerous, but moreover, rewarding targets for the brave. (To see bounty, press the "~" key to view the scoreboard).
Now, with sea battles being what they are, they will most likely be leaving your ship wanting for repairs. You can dock to repair … but you'll lose the score you've racked up. Better to just repair at sea, you'll see stacks of wood around your deck showing where to repair once you've taken damage. If you're captaining the ship, you'll have to get off the wheel to repair. Remember, the more hands repairing the ship, the faster it'll go!
Sometimes your friends will need to restock on ammo or supplies. Easily done … they can teleport off the ship (though the captain cannot) to pick up more stock, and come right back.
And, of course Pierre and Garcia, gracious as they are, will cover your basic expenses. If you sink while fighting for their cause, you'll immediately be repaired and respawned back at their island. They'll get you back into the fight as quickly as possible.
Now, when it comes time, you'll want to leave Privateering to take a break, play cards, or embark on Quests. You cannot drop anchor unless you haven't taken damage recently … so if you're under fire, lose the enemy first and then make for port.
Good luck and good hunting!