Hi, everyone!

Till the end of the year, I want to write more about the everyday food of the sailors in the 17th century and illustrate why there was so high mortality rate on a fleet.

We are starting from the largest fleet in the 17th century, the Spanish. Here is a fragment from the sailor diary: “Hunger, thirst, nausea, cold, impossibility to stay alone and pitching. The ship is full of small rodents, which are feeding by cookies and biscuits and reproducing so fast, that very soon the rodents will run not only in cabins, beds and plates (from which people eat) but also on the people themselves. Flies are falling in the plates with soup, where flow worms of all kinds. On “fish” days we eat rotten fish, boiled in the seawater. At the dinner, we eat soup with beans containing so many maggots that they are floating on the surface.”

Sounds delicious, yer? Let’s turn to England. The situation in the Royal Fleet was better, they had corned beef and lemon juice, but I would love to see the foodies exist on this diet for at least one week. The one who will do it is ready for serving in the Royal Fleet.

The French - the nation of the scientists and philosophers decided to do it their own way: on the military and trade ships they were making «fazendas». Some cabins have been given for growing onion, garlic, salad, dill, even lemons and oranges representing the vitamins and diversity. However, it is great only from one side, as «fazendas» became a breeding ground for insects, worms, maggots who caused many diseases, such as fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, etc.

Besides all this, you have to keep in mind the climate in the colonies. Just try to visit Cuba without vaccination today. Taking into account our full inadaptabilities of the organism to the climate conditions - the probability of death is really high.

And some illustrations-examples for this data. In 1701 the French fleet of Admiral Alain Emmanuel de Coëtlogon arrived on Martinika, but it had to move back, because of the losses in the crews (nearly 450 people died from diseases). Also, they lost 200 people on the way back.

Or even more grandiose example from Royal Navy: the fleet of Admiral John Leake after providing support to the army near Barcelona went back to Cadiz (app 800 km). It took 13 weeks and 3 days! From the memories of Steven Martin (the Captain of “Prince George”): “For this time all we had was only one cracker a day without any bread. We had a real shortage of water most of the time, so for survivals, it was hard to watch when some of their crewmates were getting mad. They were falling on the deck and tried to eat themselves. On “Prince George” 50 people have died during this trip and nearly 300 people counting from the departure date.

Now you can see how hard it was. Was it informative? If it was, please like the post and share feedback with us!

Hello, guys!

This year we will be wrapping up with crew management mechanic in Maritime Law, which we’ll present you in a video dev diary in January. As for now, I’d like to go through the crew management from the historical point of view, including its organizational structure. We’ll be reviewing the common folk path, avoiding the gentlemen for now.

What is important for us? That a sailor was a prestige profession in the 17th century (especially in England and Netherlands), primarily due to the high wages. Common folk, like farmers or craftsmen, were barely making a living, while the sailors earned 2-3 times more than them. The second important reason was that anyone could join the royal fleet. However, the first two or three years were awful for most of them. They were called Landsmen. The main task for them was not to die in the dangerous sea and to mop the deck.

After these two or three years passed, the sailor became an ordinary seaman. These crew members could work with masts or sometimes they can help with the guns, but still, their role was mainly an assistant. Now their job was to learn the craft and become more experienced in one of the professional areas on the ship.

In two years, the sailor finally became an able seaman. These guys were the core and foundation of the ship. Most of the work was done by their hands. Experienced and mature, they were looking after the masts, guns, supplies and everything else on the ship. For the most non-gentlemen sailors, it was the top of their career, as it was really hard to learn more. After this stage, the sailor had two paths of progression. First is to prove your magnificent abilities to an officer which was nearly impossible. The second way was to be an irreplaceable assistant to a sub-officer and it was quite realistic because sometimes sub-officers knew less than their assistants.

Finally, the last stage for non-gentlemen sailors was a petty officer rank. Only a few exceptional sailors could become for example a boatswain, but these people were crucial assistants for the captain himself. If the able seamen are the core of a ship, the petty officers are the nerves. The only way to make the ship moving is to give the order to these people. They were the most respected crew members and they were organizing the life and discipline on the ship. Yet sometimes they were also the first one who rebelled against the captain when something goes wrong.

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Hello, everyone!

Today we are going to look through ship’s hold. It was a difficult task to maintain it in good condition. Few people loved to clean it, so in the 17th century, most of the ships had poor sanitary conditions. As a result, protecting supplies from the problems was a real issue and a headache for the Captain.

What are the main problems with the ship’s hold? First, the water has been going out of condition very fast. Normally it takes 5-7 days water to sour in wooden barrels. There were a lot of ways to clarify water, but none of those was a long time solution. For example, the main cheap method was to add some rum in water and it helped to decontaminate water for 5-7 more days, but not more. Or to make a simple sand filter, but it it was very difficult in the open sea and still not effective. The second problem was the food supply and absence of vegetables and fruit. Main food on the ship of that time was corned beef, which has been soaking in water and then it was possible to eat it. Anyway, it was an unappetizing meal without vitamins, so here it is the problems with scurvy. Third, a really impressive problem were rats. Little bloody bastards eat everything from food to rigging. Besides this damage, they were the disease spread factor. Sometimes this disaster could start during the night when the sailors were sleeping in the hold, the rats became more aggressive and they occasionally bite people.

These and hundreds of other problems take place in a hold of the ship and many sailors were dying, because captains in the 17th century were not able to solve them. We want to project these difficulties to Maritime Law. Wherefore, we think it is really important for a Captain to watch after the ship.

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