As standard practice, we always ensure our ship’s stores have plenty of tobacco. We will many times pickup tobacco that has already been spun into a rope. It’s tobacco leaves that have been tightly wrapped and twisted into a rope, then dipped in rum. In our case its rum from Barbados some of the best available in the Caribbean.
HISTORY NOTE: The rope tobacco is also known as Navy Plug, it was given the name because sailors would fill a long canvas tube with Tobacco and flavorings (rum, fruits, spices), then twist the tube tight: mimicking the Pressing process. This technique created a dense "rope" of Tobacco about an inch thick. When a piece of the Tobacco is sliced/cut off it is called a Plug.
Many of the crew will cut it and chew on it during their 4 hour watches, others will smoke it out of their pipes. Myself, I’ve also secured a few pounds of a ribbon cut blend that Lord Mardsen has brought and given me that I’m finding I quite enjoy, but more on that later.
The typical method of my crew when we don’t have rope available is to gather lose tobacco leaves, wash them, leave them out overnight to dry on a clean canvas.
The next morning they would sort them, arrange them lengthwise on a piece of canvas, would then pour rum, brandy, and sometimes include some sort of fruit extract or spice and then wrap the canvas tight with a rope, tying it tight into what resembled somewhat of a hammock.
My crew will wrap many of these up and leave them until they are ready to chew or smoke. Many of them simply take their talon blade knives and cut a small piece and place it in their mouth to chew for the next several hours.
I also enjoy my stops in New Orleans where I can acquire a spice tobacco called Perique. It’s only made near New Orleans and is a technique the local Indians had of fermenting the tobacco over a year to be strong and spicy. The Indians would put the tobacco leaves in a log and press it but today the local farmers use old wine or whiskey barrels. I like to use a hint of this perique along with my regular tobacco to give it a kick of pepper and fermented fruit.