Pirate MOCs

“Galleon Cartagena” by NOD

The galleon is one of the most romantic ship types in the naval history. Word alone, “galleon“, triggers a sudden stream of images. We can immediately picture a grandiose vessel of smooth hull lines and artistic curves, a heavily accessorised stern, many… many guns, and most importantly, a treasure hold bulging with silver and gold.

For any aspiring Pirate-themed MOC designer, building a galleon marks an important milestone in his or hers development. Why? Because it is a damn hard and intimidating undertaking! It is more than a milestone, it’s an accomplishment, an unofficial degree, if you want, and every once and a while someone pulls it off, successfully, and leaves the whole LEGO Pirates community in amazement and envy (of a good kind). This happened with NOD’s second galleon, The Cartagena.

Cartagena in full sails

Galleon Cartagena in full sails, pillages and plunders the open digital waters of Brethren of the Brick Seas


NOD writes:

LEGO Barracuda Bay (21322) was the main inspiration to build a galleon. It was the main reason I started building with LEGO again. I bought and built it. After that I wasn’t satisfied. That’s why I built a MOD. I still wasn’t satisfied. After that I learned to build digitally.

I learn with every ship I build. The mistakes in building are becoming less and less while my ships are getting better and better. One day I plan to build a galleon with real LEGO bricks.

Buildiers shipbuilding learning curve

Here we see NOD’s shipbuilding learning curve through several selected ship designs, from Esperanza, the obvious derivative from Barracuda brig, to the custom hull galleon design

Who would have guessed that such a splendid LEGO Ideas set (Pirates of Barracuda Bay) would actually make a customer so dissatisfied that he would turn into Hulk and go on a design rampage to create, not one, but a dozen outstanding MOCs over the course of two years.

Perhaps this can explain the question on everyone’s mind as to why the LEGO Ideas Team disappoints without fail during the review of 10K LEGO Idea submissions. Apparently, they intentionally reject promising and playable designs and green light sitcoms, and other nonsense, which in turn drives more AFOLs into building their own creations. With that being said, we can only wonder how many more outstanding builders and awesome custom designs will emerge from other utterly unplayable not so splendid LEGO Ideas sets in the future.

But enough of the doldrums, let us turn our attention to pictures and other juicy details of this masterpiece.


The Build, The Pictures, The Details

Cartagena viewed from above

You can get far in your MOC-ing career with the perfect symmetry and curvature, just ask NOD. This design got him invited in the exclusive club of Ship-Expert builders inside the Eurobricks.

Broadside view of Cartagena

The devil is in the details. The rigging was all done inside the Studio with LEGO strings. This is by no means an easy feat to accomplish since it requires vast patience and foresight.

While the LEGO Barracuda Pirates of Bay (21322) served as the main inspiration, it was far from the sole inspiration for this build. Another was the English galleon “Revenge” from 1577, and the other was a booklet series “Seewölfe, Korsaren der Weltmeere” roughly translated “The Sea Wolf, Corsairs of the World’s oceans”, which were based on Fox novels by Adam Hardy.

Just reading the intro of the first book will make you stop and think:

George Abercrombie Fox decided, not particularly rationally and not at all calmly, that he would first shoot the Master-at-Arms and cut off his head and boil it, would string up the cook and all the bosun’s mates he could lay hands on, would in various gory and unbecoming ways dispose of most of the other petty officers, and then would set fire to the ship and dance about in glee as she burned to the waterline and sank.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Who knows what happens next…

A bow view at Cartagena

Traditionally the toughest section to pull off during a build of this scale is the bow which makes or breaks the design. (In this case, it made it!)

A stern view at Cartagena

All the skills and hard labour come together at the stern which is real beauty to watch. Extraordinary craftsmanship!


Technical details

  • Parts: 5682 parts in digital version without sails – the real version would require additional bricks to strengthen the hull
  • Width: 22.4cm (8.8″) The widest point on the cannon deck
  • Length: 105.6cm (41.5″)
  • Time needed: 3 months approx. 180 hours for the digital design
An isometric view at Cartagena

A very important technical detail: the ship does not float! But we already somehow knew that.


The Backstory

Early in the morning, as the sun began its usual climb, a merchant caravel flying the Mardierians flag sailed towards the galleon Cartagena. Fernando, who was a boatswain on the caravel, called “Ahoy! We have bananas on board that are already ripe and our crew is too small to eat all them all. If you want them, you can have them for free!”

Capitano Don Raphael de Velázquez of the Galleon Cartagena was intrigued, to say the least. Ever since the reduction of daily ration of rum the crew’s moral was low, and there were even whispers of mutiny heard here and there. He didn’t take those rumours too seriously, after all this was a navy ship packed with seasoned soldiers who would easily prevail in any violent conflict with the unsatisfied crew of common sailors. But why risk it when he could easily raise the spirit of everyone on-board with a load of delicious bananas.

Galleon Cartagena in the Charlatan Bay

The plot thickens as the Capitano Velázquez, unbeknownst to him, finds himself in the outskirts of Charlatan Bay, the pirate capital.

Fernando, the boatswain, shouted to Capitano Velázquez to send a rowing boat for the free bananas as the distance was not too great between two ships. Capitano Velázquez complied eagerly, or perhaps too eagerly for his own sake, forgetting that there was no such thing as a free lunch. The rowing boat was lowered into the water and the men rowed. Aboard the caravel, merchant sailors looked very busy as they carried bananas from the hold onto the deck. Completely mesmerised, Capitano Velázquez and the gathered crew on the main deck watched with joy and hunger as the first boat rowed back with the delicious cargo.

A loud shout READY! boomed across the water and violently snapped them from the spell. Capitano Velázquez’s eyes flashed in general direction of that shout, while his mind reeled behind, vainly searching for any plausible explanation for the purpose of that shout. But the eyes were quicker, and the eyes saw the merchant’s gun ports opened and the swivel guns on the ship’s deck swung. He had only enough time to open his mouth with sincere intention of issuing a command when they all heard the second, more dreadful shout FIRE! The words never left his mouth.

A rain of cannon balls descended upon them, accompanied by the deafening sound of roaring thunder. Panic spread and mayhem took command. Those who survived the first volley of guns took cover, or jumped overboard. Again the shout was heard FIRE! and Capitano Velázquez had a clear view of the man issuing shouts. On the caravel quarterdeck there was Captain Kane, a notorious pirate, in other words a cunning scoundrel who had balls cojones.

A close up on Cartagena Poop Deck

And what would Bartholomew Roberts have to say about so many women on-board? It appears that Captain Kane is operating above the Pirate Code… what a scoundrel!

The caravel set sail from the windward side to the galleon. On her main deck pirates were getting ready for boarding. When the galleon was in pistol range, a large number of bottle grenades (mainly bottles were filled with gunpowder and nails) showered the galleon deck. The horror and the misery were beyond belief. Grappling hooks flew and pirates armed with sharp cutlasses jumped over. It was a short fight. Beaten and wounded, Capitano Velázquez surrendered and pledged for lives and safety of his men.

Mercy was granted, and quite a few sailors (bribed with rum) happily turned sides and joined the Sea Rats – a pirate life for them. As for the Capitano Velázquez, he was left with the rest of the crew on the island, along with the crates of bananas which turned out to be more rotten than ripped.

Galleon Cartagena in the Charlatan Bay

Capitano Velázquez rowed for the shore with ripened rotten bananas.

With not a fatality on his side, and now in possession of a formidable galleon (which was due for serious overhaul), Captain Kane set course for Tortuga? Aye Tortuga where his prize ship, and his lustful men, could receive tender care they craved and needed.


Brethren of the Brick Seas

NOD continues:

When I finished building the Bahía de la Cascada I thought it would look even better with a ship. I like the ships class on Brethren of the Brick Seas, and I like galleons because they are harder to build than a frigate.

Galleon Cartagena in the Charlatan Bay

Here we see Cartagena sailing smoothly along the Bahía de la Cascada in the outer skirts of the Free City of Charlatan Bay, the capital of the Sea Rats, on the volcanic island of Infero Pordejon, located somewhere in the Sea of Thieves.

Let’s assume for a moment that you have not been a long time reader of Classic-Pirates and you know nothing Jon Snow about the Brethren of the Brick Seas. If you found the backstory intriguing then some explanation is needed as you have just stumbled on the most spectacular pirate game ever made for MOC designers.

What is it?

Brethren of the Brick Seas is a role-playing building game set in the age of discovery. It is the world of the four factions, where all factions interact, cooperate, compete and struggle for power, just like the players inside the faction do.

How do players and their factions compete?

Mainly by building MOCs through the official challenges, mini-challenges, and the free builds. Every player has a role in the development of the Brick Seas and the potential to alter geopolitics, and eventually history.

Who are the Sea Rats?

The Sea Rats, aka the Pirate faction, are men and women who have gone their own way. Some are fierce pirates, making a living terrorising the Brick Seas, others are peaceful merchants who have refused to bend the knee to any King. United under the common cause of self-determination, and defiance of Imperial rule, this folk heed no laws but those of the Pirate Code.

The Sea Rats are open for members. Any man, woman, child, or what-have-you can be a sea rat, so click and JOIN NOW or, if you want to learn more, dig your way through a quick start guide to BoBS.

The Sea of Thieves Region

The map is a part of the storytelling mechanism where the Sea of Thieves region represents only a fraction of the known New World. New portions of the New World (and some of the Old) will be uncovered through events, challenges, and other parts of the project


About the Builder…

A pioneer of the digital frontier and the Sea Rat, NOD is a Ship-Expert and MOC-expert builder who enriches the LEGO Pirates community, more specifically the Brethren of the Brick Seas, regularly with both land and sea digital designs. You can view and follow his tireless and impressive MOC record via his Flickr account.

Other than the aforementioned invitation to join BoBS, we also invite you to share your thoughts, praise or critique of this MOC in the discussion taking place in the LEGO Pirates MOCs subforum by clicking the big red shiny button bellow. Don’t miss the adventure!