Reinette had said that, or she would say that in one of her letters, historically. France's Navy was far from powerful, and that was well known. They weren't an attacking nation, not since Napoleon. A navy wasn't necessary.
Which was, of course, why this small but very direct pirate ship decided to attack the wealthy-looking French vessel sailing from England back to France. The captain and sailors were more concerned for the large chunks of ice and the falling snow than the possibility of pirates in English waters. And then, there they were.
The commotion caused by the attack woke the Doctor, who had been snoozing over the captain's logs, and by the time he had his senses about him, he was huddled on deck in a fur coat that was two sizes too big with the rest of the male crewmembers. He didn't know where the females were, and therefore didn't know where Reinette was.
He remembered studying pirates in his youth. He was terrified for her safety. Even if they believed her ransomable, they might not be so delicate with her in the voyage back to France.
Snow fell in his lengthening hair, and he bundled himself tighter against the spray of the icy sea water. The pirates appeared to be searching for treasure and staying warm below, while the crew they kept alive froze on deck.