There are numerous ways to communicate from one vessel to another when at sea: maritime radio, lights flashing Morse code, semaphore flags, flaghoist signals, and gale pennants and hurricane flags. But when facing down a Johnny boat full of pirates motoring through light chop toward our stern, the Captain improvised his own communication. He snatched the shotgun from my hands and held it over his head like a victorious minuteman. After the pirates got a good look, he grabbed the weapon by the forearm, again with one hand, and pumped a round into the chamber with a flick of his arm. Without aiming, he discharged a single shell from his hip over their heads.